Allen P. McCartney (1940-2004)


  • D.W. Veltre
  • J.M. Savelle



Aleuts, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arctic Institute of North America, Biographies, Canada. Thule Archaeology Conservation Project, Education, McCartney, Allen P., 1940-2004, National Museum of Man (Canada), Native peoples, Neoeskimo culture, Research, Science, Scientists, Thule culture, Universities, Alaska, Canadian Arctic, United States, Aleutian Islands, Hudson Bay region, Nunavut, Roes Welcome Sound region, Somerset Island, Pribilof Islands


Northern studies lost one of its most esteemed practitioners on June 15, 2004, with the death of Allen P. McCartney, who had suffered from Parkinson's-related disease for several years. He was 63. For over four decades, Allen pursued an especially broad range of anthropological and archaeological research interests: he was perhaps the only recent scholar whose work spanned the North American Arctic, from the western Aleutian Islands in Alaska to the eastern Canadian Arctic. Allen was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on August 8, 1940 .... He graduated [from the University of Arkansas in 1958] ... with a B.A. and high honors in Sociology and Anthropology .... It was also while an undergraduate, when he studied the World War II internment of Aleuts in southeastern Alaska for a class paper, that Allen first became interested in the North. For assistance with his paper, Allen wrote to biological anthropologist William Laughlin, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin and the foremost Aleutians scholar of the time. This led, ultimately, to Allen's entrance in 1962 to the graduate program in anthropology at Wisconsin .... In the summer before Allen's first semester at Wisconsin, Laughlin invited him to take part in the 1961-63 Aleut-Konyag Prehistory and Ecology Project. ... Allen's part in Laughlin's project - which continued during the summer of 1963, when he served as excavation supervisor - centered on excavations in the Nikolski village area of southwestern Umnak Island, which included the important sites of Chaluka and Anangula. Allen earned his M.A. in 1967 from Wisconsin, with a thesis entitled "An Analysis of the Bone Industry from Amaknak Island, Alaska." ... In 1968, Allen took part in the Northwest Hudson Bay Thule Project, which focused on the Kamarvik, Silumiut, and IgluligardJuk sites. In the following year, he served as the principal investigator for excavations at the Silumiut site, under contract to the National Museum of Man. His 1971 doctoral dissertation, "Thule Eskimo Prehistory Along Northwestern Hudson Bay," was based on this fieldwork. Over the span of his graduate student years, Allen held instructor and lecturer positions at various campuses of the University of Wisconsin Center System. In 1970, he joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville as an assistant professor of anthropology. He was promoted to associate professor in 1974 and to professor in 1979. He remained at Arkansas for his entire professional career, retiring because of illness in the spring of 2003. In addition to his service as chair of the anthropology department for six years, Allen was instrumental in establishing the Ph.D. program in Environmental Dynamics, an interdisciplinary specialty emphasizing the study of complex human and environmental interactions and change. He served as its first director from 1998 to 2002. ... With such an active research career and varied interests, Allen's academic output was prodigious, ranging from short notes to full, single-authored monographs. However, one of Allen's most notable strengths was his ability-and indeed great enthusiasm-for bringing together archaeologists of various theoretical and analytical approaches. ... As equally impressive as his writings was another, sometimes unrecognized contribution that Allen made that was crucial to the development of northern anthropology .... This came in the form of his editorship of the journal Arctic Anthropology in 1981-89 and 1996-2000 and his role as Associate Editor in 1989-95 and in 2001. Additionally, Allen served on the Board of Governors of the Arctic Institute of North America in 1977-79 and as Associate Editor of the Alaska Journal of Anthropology in 2001. ...