Cressman, Luther S., 1897-1994

Alternative names
Birth 1897-10-24
Death 1994-04-04

Biographical notes:

American anthropologist Luther Sheeleigh Cressman (1897-1994) was an authority on prehistoric man in the Pacific Northwest and founded the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oregon, which he chaired from 1935 to his retirement in 1963. Cressman discovered sagebrush bark sandals determined to be 10,000 years old at Fort Rock in Lake County, Or. He was deeply involved in regional anthropology organizations, including the University of Oregon's Museum of Natural History, the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology, and the Oregon Coast Prehistory Program. Cressman's major publications include his memoirs, A golden journey; Klamath prehistory; and Prehistory of the far West.

From the description of Luther Cressman papers, 1930-1990. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 123233490

Luther Sheeleigh Cressman was born on October 24, 1897 outside of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He began his education at Pennsylvania State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1918 majoring in the Classics and minoring in English poetry. He later studied at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University simultaneously. By 1925 he had been ordained an Episcopalian priest, received his Ph.D. in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology and had married Margaret Mead. In 1927 Margaret Mead met another man and asked for a divorce. The following year he married his life-long wife Dorothy Loch. In 1927 Cressman renounced the ministry and in 1929 took a position as Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon. Six years later his anthropological research became extensive enough to found the Department of Anthropology. Luther Cressman remained chair of the department from 1935 to his retirement in 1963.

Luther Cressman is known for many accomplishments throughout his career. He helped to organize the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural History and was the founding director of the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology. He is most known for his discovery of the sagebrush bark sandals at Fort Rock in 1938. The sandals were radiocarbon dated from 10,500 to 9,300 years old. In 1950 he founded the Oregon Coast Prehistory Program based on his interest in the prehistoric man and his migrations through Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Cressman’s major publications include A Golden Journey, Klamath Prehistory, and Prehistory of the Far West. Among his other numerous accomplishments were a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Alsop King Fellowship, and the Charles E. Johnson Memorial Award. He continued to be active in his writing and research until his death in 1994.

From the guide to the Luther Cressman papers, 1930-1990, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)


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