Diane Curewitz, anthropologist & long-time staff member, retires

By Shannon Tushingham and William Lipe

Diane Curewitz and students.
Diane Curewitz, center, with WSU Museum of Anthropology internship class students, 2014. (Photo by Shannon Tushingham)

Congratulations to Diane Curewitz upon her retirement this past summer as manager of Archaeological Collections for the WSU Museum of Anthropology! We deeply appreciate her contributions to the department and her dedication to the Museum of Anthropology and its collections.

A native of Bronx, NY, Curewitz graduated in 1968 from Barnard College with a BA in anthropology from Columbia University. Although for many years she worked primarily in health and social services, she maintained an interest in anthropology and archaeology, and in 1993 returned to study these subjects part-time at the University of Southern Maine. She entered the graduate program at WSU in 1996 and earned an MA in 1999 and her PhD in 2008.

As a graduate student, Curewitz served as a research intern at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (2000), and as editorial assistant under Tim Kohler for American Antiquity (2000-2003). In 2005, Curewitz was awarded the prestigious Lister Dissertation Fellowship from the Crow Canyon Center. She also received dissertation support from the WSU Graduate and Professional Student Association (2004), the Field Museum of Natural History (2004), the National Science Foundation (2004), and a Bureau of Land Management/Museum of New Mexico Research Fellowship (2004). While collecting information for her dissertation, she worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to help manage cultural resources on the Pajarito Plateau in New Mexico.

Tim Kohler, Curewitz’s primary PhD advisor, noted that her dissertation, Changes in Northern Rio Grande Ceramic Production and Exchange, Late Coalition through Classic (A.D. 1250-1600), “helped to fill in the emerging outline of the vast changes in exchange practices taking place among Pueblo societies in the northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico after the AD-1280 depopulation of regions to the north and west. These changes included more specialization (both within towns, and between towns), much greater volumes of exchange, and exchange of more different kinds of things. Diane worked to source ceramics involved in these networks. One of many reasons these exchange practices were important is that they may have helped to reduce levels of conflict among towns, and likely helped to raise standards of living within these towns.”

After earning her PhD, Curewitz was primarily employed by the WSU Museum of Anthropology, under Director Mary Collins between 2006-2011, and most recently as collections manager under Director Shannon Tushingham from 2013-2022. During her tenure at the Museum, she made numerous contributions toward the rehabilitation, stewardship, and preservation of records from major archaeological projects conducted by WSU researchers throughout the Columbia Plateau. Her institutional knowledge about these collections was remarkable. She also provided order and access for the complex records and collections from important legacy collections associated with the Cedar Mesa Project in SE Utah conducted by William Lipe in the early 1970s.

Curewitz’s specialties in the archaeology of the American southwest, ceramics, and museum studies led to publications in Kiva, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Heritage Management, and the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. We wish her well in her future endeavors and trust that, among other plans for the coming months and years, she will enjoy participating in the Koppel Farm community garden in Pullman.