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Taylor, Walter W. (Walter Willard) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Taylor, Walter W. (Walter Willard)

Historical Note:

Southern Illinois University anthropology professor Walter W. Taylor was born in 1913 in Chicago, Illinois.  He moved with his family to Greenwich, Connecticut as a child and graduated from Yale in 1935 with a BA in geology.  That same year he took part in his first archaeological excavations, working for the Museum of Northern Arizona where he was influenced by the environmental philosophy of Lyndon Hargrave.  He was also influenced by anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn who encouraged him to enroll in Harvard’s anthropology doctoral program in 1938.  By 1940, anthropologist Leslie Spier whom Taylor met at Yale, encouraged him to undertake fieldwork in Mexico which led to his studies in Coahuila.

Taylor was an influential archeological and anthropological thinker.  He developed the conjunctive archeology approach which combined practices from both disciplines and aimed to provide a holistic view of the past.  His most famous publication was A Study of Archeology (1948).  After living in Santa Fe and then Mexico, Taylor moved to Carbondale, Illinois where he taught from 1958-1974 and helped develop the anthropology department.

Walter Taylor died on April 15, 1997 at his home in Rockaway Beach, Oregon.  In addition to his career in higher education, he served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.


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