The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

James Fanto Deetz


Curriculum Vitae & Personal History

Jim Deetz, from an interview in April, 1968, with The Providence Journal

This chronology provides an account of Jim's accomplishments, positions and key events in his life's work. For a list of his many books and articles over the years, see our summary of his work and publications.

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1930Born in Cumberland, Maryland, Feb. 8; only son of John Harold Deetz and Catherine Fanto Deetz.
1948Graduated from Fort Hill High School, Cumberland, Maryland.
1948-1950Attending Harvard University.
1951Enlisted in the United States Air Force, Jan. 11.
1953Married in Pierre, South Dakota, to Eleanore Joanne Kelley, Nov. 17.
1954Eldest son, James Christian Deetz born.
1955Honorable discharge from the Armed Forces, Jan. 10.
1956Eldest daughter, Antonia Deetz born.
1957B.A., Harvard University (cum laude).

Joseph Dayton Deetz born.
1957-1960Teaching Fellow, Anthropology, Harvard. University.
1958Archaeologist, Smithsonian Institution, River Basin Survey.
1958-1959Harvard Graduate Fellowship.
1959M.A. in Anthropology, Harvard University.

Kristen (Cricket) Deetz born.
1959-1960Archaeologist, Plimoth Plantation.
1960National Science Cooperative Fellowship (Harvard).

Ph.D. in Anthropology, Harvard University.

John Eric Deetz born.
1960-1961Instructor in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
1961-1965Assistant Professor, Anthropology, UCSB.
1962William Geoffrey Deetz born.
1963Joshua Andrew Deetz born.
1964Cynthia (Cindy) Deetz born.
1965-1967Advisory Panel, National Science Foundation.
1965-1966Associate Professor, Anthropology, UCSB.

Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University.

Research Fellow in North American Anthropology, Harvard University.
1966-1967Professor, Anthropology, UCSB.
1967-1968Professor, Anthropology, Brown University.
1967-1978Assistant Director of Plimoth Plantation.
1971-1972Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Fellowship.
1972-1974Society for American Archaeology, Executive Committee.

President-Elect, Society for Historical Archaeology.
1974President, Society for Historical Archaeology.
1975Kelley Deetz born.
1975-1976Society for Historical Archaeology, Executive Committee.
1976Hartman Hunawa Deetz born (grandson, adopted).
1977-1978Eminent Scholar, Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.
1978-1994Professor, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley (UCB).
1979-1987Director, Lowie Museum of Anthropology, UCB.
1981Consultant, Southside Historical Sites, Inc., Williamsburg, Virginia.
1982-1995Director of Field Programs, Flowerdew Hundred Foundation, Hopewell, Virginia and the University of California, Berkeley.
1982-2000Flowerdew Hundred Foundation, Member, Board of Directors.
1983Separated from first wife.
1984, FallVisiting Professor of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
1988-1991Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Cape Town.
1988-1991Director, Human Sciences Research Council, Eastern Cape Historical Archaeology Project, South Africa.
1988Overseas Research Fellow, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa.
1988-1989Director, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Summer Institute in the Archaeology of European Expansion 1550-1700, Flowerdew Hundred, Virginia.
1990Overseas Research Fellow, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa.
1990-1993Honorary Research Associate, Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa.
1991Director, NEH Summer Institute on the Emergence of Modern America, Flowerdew Hundred, Virginia.

Consultant, Historical Interpretation at Vergelegen, Cape, South Africa, for Anglo-American Farms.
1992Publication of festschrift, The Art and Mystery of Historical Archaeology: Essays in Honor of James Deetz, edited by Anne Elizabeth Yentsch and Mary C. Beaudry (CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida).
1993-1994Visiting Professor of New World Studies, University of Virginia.
1994James Mooney Award for Flowerdew Hundred: The Archaeology of a Virginia Plantation, 1619-1864 (University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1993). Award presented in recognition of distinguished anthropological scholarship on the South and Southerners.

Distinguished Book Award of the Society of Colonial Wars, New York, for Flowerdew Hundred.
1994-2000Harrison Professor of Historical Archaeology, University of Virginia.
1994-2000Plimoth Plantation, Trustee.
1995-2000Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Advisory Board.
1995Virginia Heritage Award, presented each year by the Directors of the Prince George County Heritage Fair to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the heritage and well being of the Commonwealth.

Publication of a second festschrift, The Written and the Wrought: Complementary Sources in Historical Archaeology. Essays in Honor of James Deetz, ed. by Mary Ellin D'Agostino, Elizabeth Prine, Eleanor Casella and Margot Winer, Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, Volume No. 79, Berkeley, California.
1997J.C. Harrington Medal in Historical Archaeology. Selection based on outstanding contributions to the field in theory, field research and teaching. Presented by the Society for Historical Archaeology, at its 30th Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology. Corpus Christi, Texas, January 10, 1997.

Divorced from Eleanore Joanne Kelley.

Married in Charlottesville, Virginia, to Patricia Elena Scott, June 6.
1999The Hornblower Award. An annual award, presented to James Deetz in November 1999. The award is to honor those persons who have made significant contributions toward the development and success of Plimoth Plantation and whose dedication to Plimoth Plantation embodies the spirit of their founder Henry Hornblower II.
2000Harriette Merrifield Forbes Award, Association for Gravestone Studies, Massachussetts, in recognition of his pioneering work with Edwin S. Dethlefsen in gravestone studies.

Died at Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville, Virginia, Nov. 25, 2000.

Buried at St. Peterís Cemetery, Westernport, Maryland.


In his extensive studies of mortuary practices and grave art over time, Jim delighted in the creativity of individuals in crafting epitaphs, from the more humorous, such as "I told you I was sick," to the following, eloquent passage:

Remember me as you pass by
As now you are, so once was I.
As now I am, soon you will be
Prepare for death, and follow me.

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Last Modified: December 14, 2007

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Patricia Scott Deetz and Christopher Fennell