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Marjorie F. Lambert: Museum of New Mexico’s Curator of Archaeology, 1936-1969

July 5, 2023

Shelby Tisdale. Ph.D

Retired Director, Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO

Former Director, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM

In the first half of the twentieth century, the canyons and mesas of the Southwest beckoned and the burgeoning field of archaeology thrived. Among those who heeded the call, Marjorie Ferguson Lambert became one of only a handful of women who not only stayed and left their imprint on the study of southwestern archaeology and anthropology but flourished.

After spending time in the University of New Mexico/School of American Research archaeology field schools Marjorie became the supervisor of several archaeological projects and ran her own field school before becoming one of the first women to become a curator of archaeology in a major southwest museum. Under the supervision of her mentor, Edgar L. Hewett, Marjorie spent most of her museum career at the Palace of the Governors where she was responsible for the archaeological and historical collections, the numerous exhibitions she curated, and giving tours and lectures to the general public.

Through Lambert’s life story we gain new insight into the intricacies and politics involved in the development of American archaeology in the Southwest, the Museum of New Mexico, and the School of American Research (now the School for Advanced Research.) We also learn about the obstacles that young women had to maneuver around in the early years of the development of southwest archaeology as a profession. Dr. Tisdale brings into focus one of the long-neglected voices of women in the intellectual history of anthropology and archaeology and highlights how gender roles played out in the past in determining the career paths of young women.


Dr. Shelby Tisdale, retired Director of the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, has over forty years of combined experience in museum administration; anthropological, tribal museum and cultural resource management consulting; and university teaching. She is the former Director of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe and the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. Dr. Tisdale received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1997. Her B.A. is from the University of Colorado-Boulder where she studied anthropology and southwestern archaeology, and her M.A. is from the University of Washington where she majored in social anthropology and museum studies.

She has curated numerous exhibitions on Native American and Hispano arts, culture and history. Dr. Tisdale is an award-winning author who has published forty-five books, articles and book chapters relating to American Indian art and culture, repatriation, and women in the West. Her book, Fine Indian Jewelry of the Southwest: The Millicent Rogers Museum Collection (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2006) received the Ralph Emerson Twitchell Book Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico and the Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association.  Another of her books, Pablita Velarde: In Her Own Words (Little Standing Spruce Publishing, 2012), is a full-length biography of this famous American Indian painter from Santa Clara Pueblo. She recently edited Federico: One Man’s Remarkable Journey from Tututepec to L.A. by Federico Jimenez Caballero (University of Arizona Press, 2021), which received Honorable Mention for Non-Fiction Biography in English from the International Latino Book Awards in 2021.

Her most recent book, No Place for a Lady: The Life Story of Marjorie F. Lambert, came out on June 20, 2023 from the University of Arizona Press. This book can be ordered at


This presentation is ONLINE ONLY,  12:00-1:00 PM. Here is the link:


July 5, 2023
Event Category:


Friends of History
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In-person walking tour
113 Lincoln Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501 United States
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