Barry Bainton, 2017
“6 days ago, December 12th, Dr. Giddings died – as the result of an automobile accident. I have lost a great teacher and even greater friend. I only hope that I can be half as good an anthropologist as he. God – how I wish IT hadn’t happened,” (p.32, of My Peace Corps Journal, Friday December 18th 1964).
Dr. Giddings (the only Brown Professor I had who was always “Doctor” to me) was a teacher, mentor, and friend during my undergraduate career at Brown. After I graduated, a year after my entering class, I joined the newly created Peace Corps and was sent to Peru. Dr. Giddings encouraged me to make a collection of ethnographic artifacts for the Museum while I was there. I left for Peru a month after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (August 7th, 1964). This marked the formal start of the United States’ involvement in the Viet Nam War. Three months later, I received a letter along with a newspaper clipping from Judy Huntsman, Dr. Giddings’ graduate student and fellow worker at the Museum, announcing his death. Two years later, I returned to Rhode Island with the collection. Continue reading
Field team of the Archaeological Project of the Kaq’chik’el Area in Tecpan, Guatemala (2011). From right to left: Juan Pablo Herrera, Marlen Garnica, Alfred Bartlett, and Eugenia Robinson.
The Haffenreffer Museum was seminal to my development as a professional, academic archaeologist. During my completion of an independent major at Brown in astronomy (with Dr. Charles Smiley), anthropology and art, I met Douglas Anderson. One of my interests was Maya astronomy and iconography, but exposure in my archaeology classes to technical drawings of stone artifacts led me to ask Doug if I could try drawing some objects. He was delighted to show me arctic projectile points stored at the Haffenreffer and shared with me how to observe and represent lithic technology with line drawings. After finishing my degree, I continued to work at the Haffenreffer with its director, Jane Dwyer, and helped with the Cashinahua project by illustrating and designing the book The Cashinahua of Eastern Peru. During this work I had an opportunity to actually handle weavings, baskets, feather headdresses and even an armadillo tail trumpet from the rainforest. Bets Giddings and the staff at the Haffenreffer introduced me to their outreach programs for children at the museum. Working at the Haffenreffer, I learned about the anthropological perspective and material culture and I knew I wanted to pursue a career working in anthropology. Jane guided me to focus on Mesoamerican archaeology, the best fit for my interests.
I arrived at Brown in the fall of 1970, intending to pursue a Ph.D. in historic archaeology. But in my second year of studies, as a result of Jane Dwyer’s graduate seminar, my interest was re-directed and I began to understand the potential for museum collections to serve as a significant resource for understanding societies through their material culture. This newfound interest suggested a career path that I decided to explore. Continue reading