Adjunct Feature: Dr. Terry Martin

terry martin in lab

Dr. Martin instructing MSU undergraduate Yiru Gao (Photo courtesy Doug Carr)

Dr. Terry J. Martin joined the MSU Department of Anthropology as an Adjunct Professor in 2016 shortly after his retirement from the Illinois State Museum where he had been a Curator for 31 years. He completed his PhD. in archaeology from MSU in 1986 under the direction of Dr. Charles Cleland. A Michigan native, Dr. Martin’s interest in archaeology was sparked in junior high school when he visited his first archaeological excavation at a plantation over summer break. The interest that would one day become his career continued through high school, his undergraduate years at Grand Valley State University, and his graduate years at Western Michigan University. The opportunities afforded him at Michigan State University gave him the methods and museum experience that formed the foundation for his diverse career in anthropological archaeology and archaeozoology.

Although he has worked at many sites around the Midwest, Dr. Martin considers his most important work to be the years spent working on the archaeology of African-American sites in Illinois, some of which functioned in the Underground Railroad. He was co-director of the New Philadelphia project in Pike County, Illinois from 2002-2011; the principle investigator for the Jameson Jenkins Lot in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois from 2013-2015; and currently works on the Springfield Railroad Relocation Project examining city lots of African American homes destroyed in the Springfield Race Riot of 1908. He and his wife Clair enjoy sharing these projects with the public at venues such as The Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum and the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D. C.

Over the past thirty years as a zooarchaeologist, Dr. Martin has focused on the historic uses of animals throughout the Midwest, particularly late prehistoric and early historic Native American and eighteenth-century French colonial archaeological sites. These sites provide unique perspectives on diverse topics such as the history of Lake Sturgeon within cultures of the Great Lakes people. This fish’s common appearance in prehistoric sites ignited his curiosity about the current conservation status of these ancient fish as well as their economic and spiritual significance to Native American populations around the Upper Great Lakes. While this work sparked his interest in the natural history of sturgeon, his interdisciplinary methods allowed him to work with fisheries biologists in the Muskegon River to learn firsthand about these magnificent, endangered, ancient creatures.

Now, as Curator Emeritus for Illinois State Museum and Adjunct in Anthropology at MSU, Terry has a great deal more flexibility when establishing his own priorities, such as traveling. He is currently enjoying working with Dr. O’Gorman and graduate students at the Morton Village Archeological project in central Illinois and working once again with the MSU Museum to re-establish and expand their zooarchaeological reference collection. Currently, he is working on three manuscripts and a book about the importance of zooarchaeology within anthropological archaeology. We look forward to the continued and expanding relationship between Dr. Terry Martin and the department.

Click here to read the full newsletter.