The Donald J. Ortner Papers, dated 1963 to 2013, document his research and professional activities while working in the Division of Physical Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. They primarily deal with his contributions to the field of paleopathology and his work with specimens from Bab edh-Dhra, Jordan and Chichester, England. The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence, files related to Ortner's publications, specimen observations and analysis, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The Donald J. Ortner Papers primarily document his projects, research, and correspondence working as a biological anthropologist in the Division of Physical Anthropology of the Department of Anthropology from 1963 until his death in 2012. The bulk of the projects represented relate to his work in paleopathology, such as the Near Eastern skeletal biology program in Jordan and the medieval skeletal disease project in England. The collection consists of notes, research materials, correspondence, data and data analysis, transcripts of specimen observations, maps, blueprints, artwork, negatives, slides, photographs, CD-Roms, floppy discs, and sound cassettes.
This collection is arranged in 8 series: Series 1. Correspondence, 1966-2012; Series 2. Subject files, 1965-2013, undated; Series 3. Near Eastern Skeletal Biology Program, 1977-2010, undated; Series 4. Medieval Skeletal Disease Project, 1988-2006, undated; Series 5. Other publications, projects, and research, 1963-2011, undated; Series 6. Professional activities, 1971-2007, undated; Series 7. Biographical and office files, 1963-2011, undated; Series 8. Artwork, 1978, undated
Donald J. Ortner was a biological anthropologist in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). By the time of his death, Ortner had served in many positions at the Museum, including Acting Director (1994-1996). His areas of expertise included human paleopathology, human health in medieval England, bioarcheology of the ancient Near East, and the history and evoluton of human infectious diseases. Ortner was a founding member of the Paleopathology Association.
Ortner was born in 1938 in Stoneham, Massachusetts and arrived at the NMNH in 1963, working primarily with J. Lawrence Angel who had recently started as Curator in the Division of Physical Anthropology. While working at the Museum, Ortner completed his Master's in Anthropology in 1967 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1970. His doctoral dissertation was on The Effects of Aging and Disease on the Micromorphology of Human Compact Bone.
Ortner worked with Walter G. J. Putschar, a pathologist based at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, on a series of short-courses (1971-1974) on paleopathology at the Smithsonian. During the summer of 1974, Putschar and Ortner traveled to Europe (London, Edinburgh, Zurich, Strasbourg, Vienna, Prague) studying and photographing examples of skeletal pathology in museums and other repositories. The result of this research was the book Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains published in 1981, with later editions in 1985 and 2003.
In 1977, Ortner joined the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain directed by archaeologists Walter E. Rast and R. Thomas Schaub, focusing on the site of Bab edh-Dhra. Ortner studied the tombs and skeletons for data indicating cultural and biological changes, especially urbanization and connection to the development of other "Western civilizations." Ortner participated in two more field seasons in Bab edh-Dhra in 1979 and 1981. From his research at Bab-edh-Dhra, Ortner published many scholarly articles and recreated two tombs for the Hall of Western Civilization at NMNH.
In 1988, Ortner began his collaboration with the University of Bradford in Bradford, England, teaching short-courses on paleopathology. While a Visiting Professor at the University, he also participated in a project on human health and disease in Medieval England. The project focused on leprosy and syphilis in skeletons from St. James Hospital's leprosarium cemetery in Chichester, Wharram Perry, and Magistrates' Court in Kingston-upon-Hull. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University in 1995.
Donald J. Ortner died on April 29th, 2012 in Maryland.
Ubelaker, D. H. "Obituary: Donald J. Ortner (1938–2012)." American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 149 (2012): 155–156.
Arnoldi, Mary Jo and Ann Kaupp. "Donald J. Ortner, Sr. (1939-2012)." Anthropolog: Newsletter of the Department of Anthropology, Spring 2012: 1-3.
1938 -- Born on August 23 in Stoneham, Massachusetts.
1960 -- Received B.A. in Zoology from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland.
1963 -- Began working at the Smithsonian Institution.
1967 -- Received M.A. in Anthropology from Syracuse University.
1969 -- Promoted to Assistant Curator.
1970 -- Received Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
1971 -- Promoted to Associate Curator.
1971-1975 -- Taught part-time at the University of Maryland.
1974 -- Spent summer with Dr. Walter G. J. Putschar studying pathological specimens in Europe.
1976 -- Promoted to Curator in the Anthropology Department, National Museum of Natural History.
1977 -- First field season at Bab edh-Dhra cemetery site in Jordan.
1979 -- Second field season at Bab edh-Dhra cemetery site in Jordan.
1981 -- Third field season at Bab edh-Dhra cemetery site in Jordan.
1988 -- Began association with the University of Bradford in Bradford, England.
1988-1992 -- Chairman of the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History.
1994-1996 -- Acting Director of the National Museum of Natural History.
1995 -- Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the University of Bradford.
1999-2001 -- President of the Paleopathology Association.
2005 -- Received Eve Cockburn Award from the Paleopathology Association in recognition of his contributions in the field of paleopathology.
2012 -- Died on April 29 in Maryland.
The following photo lots depicting Donald J. Ortner can be found at the NAA:
Photo Lot 7D: Photograph of attendees after American Anthropological Association annual meeting, 1965
Photo Lot 7A: Portraits made at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1970
Photo Lot 77-45: Photograph of Smithsonian Institution physical anthropologists, circa 1977
Photo Lot 4822: Division of Physical Anthropology collection of photographs of physical anthropologists, undated
Sound recordings of Donald J. Ortner at the NAA:
John Lawrence Angel Papers, Sound Recordings, "How Humans Adapt: A Biocultural Odyssey," November 9, 1981
Other collections at the NAA in which Donald J. Ortner is a correspondent or creator of material:
Records of the Department of Anthropology, 1877-1980
Department of Anthropology Annual Reports, 1920-1983
John Lawrence Angel Papers, 1930s-1980s
Three films that document Ortner's work in Bab edh-Dhra are located in the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA):
Film number 2000.9.1, The Bones of Bab edh-Dhra, ca. 1970s
Film number 2000.9.3, Bab edh-Dhra Film Project, 1970-1980
Film number 2014.3, City of the Dead, 1978
The Smithsonian Institution Archives holds the original City of the Dead in Accession 05-282, Office of Telecommunications, Productions.
These papers were transferred to the NAA from the Department of Anthropology in 2014.
The Donald J. Ortner Papers are open for research.
Access to the Donald J. Ortner Papers requires an appointment.
Requests to view forensic files are subject to review by the NAA. Forensic files can only be
viewed in the National Anthropological Archives reading room. No copies are permitted unless
permission is granted by the agency the report was written for.
Electronic records are unavailable for research. Please contact the reference archivist for
Use of audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The papers of Dennis J. Stanford and Margaret A. (Pegi) Jodry document the archaeological excavations and analysis of Paleoindigenous (also called Paleoindian) sites through the United States including sites within the San Luis Valley in Colorado and those on the Delmarva Peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay region. Stanford's career as curator of North American Archaeology and Jodry's career as project archaeologist and research associate at the National Museum of Natural History from the 1970s to 2010s as well as their collaboration with other researchers and professional organizations is also represented. The collection consists of field notes, data and analysis, manuscript drafts, publications, correspondence, illustrations and maps, photographic prints, negatives, slides, and recorded film and sound.
Biographical / Historical:
Dennis Joe Stanford (1943-2019) was born on May 13, 1943 in Cherokee, Iowa. After moving to New Mexico and then to Wyoming, Stanford had in early interest in archaeology by finding artifacts starting at the age of 9. After volunteering on an archaeological dig at the Union Pacific Mammoth Site as a teenager, Stanford received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming in 1965 as a student of Dr. William Mulloy. Stanford then received a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 1967, and then subsequently began his doctoral research, which focused on the excavation (conducted in 1968-1969) and analysis of the Walakpa site in Alaska. He then received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 1972. That same year, Stanford was hired by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) as an Associate Curator of Archaeology and Director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program. By 1978, he was promoted to Curator of Archaeology and served as Head of the Division of Archaeology from 1990-1992 and again from 2004-2011. He also served as Chairman of the NMNH Department of Anthropology from 1992-2000. During his 47 years at NMNH, Stanford also conducted extensive research on topics and methods such as experimental archaeology, lithic analysis, the peopling of the Americas, and paleoecology and published over 150 works, including several books such as Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture (2012), which he coauthored with archaeologist Bruce Bradley. A few notable sites, experiments, and concepts examined by Stanford and colleagues include the Jones-Miller, Selby, Dutton, Lamb Spring, and sites within the San Luis Valley in Colorado; the Ginsberg elephant butchery experiment; and the Solutrean Hypothesis. Stanford also contributed over one million objects to NMNH's collections, comprising the Dennis Stanford National Paleoindian Collection. Dennis J. Stanford died on April 24, 2019 at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Chronology of the Life of Dennis Stanford
1943 May 13 -- Born in Cherokee, Iowa, USA
1960-1961 -- Volunteered at excavations of the Union Pacific Mammoth site in Wyoming
1965 -- B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming
1967 -- M.A. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico
1968-1969 -- Led survey and excavations at the Walakpa site near Point Barrow, Alaska
1972 -- PhD in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico Began at the Smithsonian Institution as Associate Curator of Archaeology and Director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program at the National Museum of Natural History
1973-1975 -- Excavations at the Jones-Miller Bison Kill site in Wray, Colorado
1975-1978 -- Excavations at the Selby and Dutton sites in Wray, Colorado
1977 -- Excavations at the Linger site (5AL91), Colorado
1978 -- Promoted to Curator of Archaeology at NMNH
1978-1979 -- Conducted the Ginsberg Elephant Butchery Experiment
1980-1981 -- Led second excavation of the Lamb Spring site, Colorado
1981-1983 -- Excavations at the Stewart's Cattle Guard site, Colorado
1983 -- Excavations at the Reddin site (5SH77), Colorado
1990-1992 -- Named Head of the Division of Archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History
1992 -- Coedited Ice Age Hunters of the Rockies with Jane Day Recipient of the C. T. Hurst Award for Outstanding Contributions to Colorado Archaeology, Colorado Archeological Society
1992-2000 -- Served as Chair of the National Museum of Natural History Department of Anthropology
2004-2011 -- Head of the National Museum of Natura History Division of Archaeology
2005 -- Coedited Paleo-American Origins: Beyond Clovis with Robson Bonnichsen, Bradley T. Lepper, and Michael R. Waters
2012 -- Coauthored Across the Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture with Bruce Bradley
2019 April 24 -- Died in Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains : proceedings of a seminar at the Field Museum of Natural History, organized by Jonathan Haas / volume editors, Jane E. Buikstra and Douglas H. Ubelaker, assistant editor, David Aftandilian ; contributions by D. Aftandilian ... [et al.]
Inventory and assessment of human remains and associated funerary objects from northeast Norton Sound, Bering Straits Native Corporation, Alaska, in the National Museum of Natural History / by Karen Mudar ... [et al.]