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Moreau Sanford Maxwell
1918-1998

Maxwell photo Moreau Sanford Maxwell (Max), emeritus professor and curator of Anthropology at Michigan State University, died January 30, 1998, after a short struggle with cancer. An intrepid field archaeologist and a consummate teacher, Max's legacy remains indelibly imprinted on all who knew him.

Moreau Maxwell's archaeological career was fostered by the New York Archaeological Society. Following his junior year in high school, he matriculated at the University of Chicago, where he received his A.B. (1939), M.A. (1946), and Ph.D. (1949). His Works Project Administration fieldwork in Illinois was interrupted by World War II, when he served as a U.S. Navy pilot in the Pacific as Lieutenant. He then joined the faculty at Beloit College, excavating at the Diamond Bluff and Aztalán sites.

From 1952 to 1957 Max worked for the U.S. Air Force Arctic, Desert, and Tropical Information Center, where his effort was primarily devoted to arctic projects. He engaged in Defense Early Warning (DEW) system siting as a member of the U.S. Air Force Eclipse Project, and as assistant project officer of the DEW Line Ice Survey Team. He traveled by dogsled with Inuit guides, assessing ice at landing strip locations for DEW Line construction, and observed archaeological evidence of pre-Dorset and Dorset occupation in the high arctic.

In 1957 Maxwell joined the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the museum at Michigan State University. He became the first curator of anthropology, and first chair of the independent Department of Anthropology, applying his administrative skills to build a new department.

Maxwell's arctic research began in 1958. As a member of a Defense Research Board group participating in Canada's International Geophysical Year, he surveyed the Lake Hazen vicinity on Ellesmere Island. Max then spent over 15 seasons in the arctic applying ecological and ethnoarchaeological approaches to the prehistory of Baffin Island, and received a Fulbright Foundation Fellowship to the National Museum of Denmark. He subsequently emerged as a dominant synthesizer of eastern arctic archaeology. While arctic research was his forte, Maxwell periodically returned to midwestern research at Fort Michilimackinac and other sites, pioneering anthropologically oriented historical archaeology.

Max's career led to several significant publications, including Woodland Cultures of Southern Illinois (1951), an edited SAA Memoir (1976), a review for Annual Review of Anthropology (1980), Excavation at Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinac City, Michigan, 1959 Season (with Lewis Binford, 1961), and Prehistory of the Eastern Arctic (1985).

Moreau Maxwell's achievments earned him the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award, and an SAA award for Outstanding Contributions to American Archaeology. On his retirement in 1986 the Department of Anthropology implemented a graduate student research competition in his name. In retirement he continued to read proposals, review articles, and correspond with his arctic colleagues and new generations of students. He also continued his life-long friendships with the Inuit with whom he had worked and whom he respected.

Max is survived by Eleanor, his wife of 54 years, his children Moreau Jr., Alan, John, and Tia, and his four grandchildren. He will be missed by all who knew him--friends, students, and colleagues.

The Department of Anthropology has established the Moreau S. Maxwell Memorial Lecture Series in his memory. Donations should be made to Michigan State University and mailed to the Department of Anthropology.

William A. Lovis is curator and professor of anthropology at Michigan State University.


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