Carolyn White, Ph.D.

Mamie Kleberg Chair in Historic Preservation; Professor, Anthropology; Director, Historic Preservation Program; Director, Anthropology Research Museum



Carolyn White's research interests center on historical archaeology in the Americas and as a global endeavor, material culture, the construction of identity, gender, and archaeological method and theory. She is interested in engaging new theoretical and methodological perspectives to understand material culture and to approach the past. Her recent research explores personal adornment as a class of material culture and as a means for exploring the construction of identity along gender, class, age, and ethnicity. She is currently engaged in several projects: daily life in 19th-century multicultural Aurora, Nevada; the trans-Atlantic trade in personal adornment, the study of ranching on the Big Island of Hawaii; the exploration of Depression-Era rural landscapes in the Black Rock Desert; the archaeology of Burning Man and a collaborative project on the Archaeology of Artists' Studios.

She is the director of the Anthropology Research Museum and work with ethnographic and archaeological collections in this context. She is co-editor of the Guides to Historical Artifacts Series (with Timothy J. Scarlett, Michigan Tech). This series presents comprehensive guides to classes of historical artifacts commonly found in excavations, archives, museums, and private collections in North America.

White directs the Historic Preservation program and is the advisor for the undergraduate minor in Museum Studies.

She welcomes enquiries from prospective masters and doctoral students in historical archaeology and material culture studies.


  • Historical archaeology
  • Historical archaeology of the West
  • Archaeology of the contemporary world
  • Archaeology of the ephemeral and temporar
  • Material culture
  • Museum studies
  • Historic preservation
  • North America, Hawaii and England


  • Historical Archaeology
  • Historic Preservation
  • Seminar in Archaeology and Prehistory
  • Material Culture Seminar
  • Archaeology of Gender and Identity
  • Archaeological Laboratory Methods
  • Museum Studies
  • Collections Research
  • Museum Training for Anthropologists

Selected Publications

  • 2014  Objects of Personal Adornment at VOC Sites at the Cape, in Historical Archaeology in South Africa: Material Culture of the Dutch East India Company at the Cape. Carmel Schrire, editor. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA., pp. 205-213, 269-276.
  • 2013  The Burning Man Festival and the Archaeology of Ephemeral and Temporary Gatherings. Rodney Harrison, Paul Graves-Brown, and Angela Piccini, eds., Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Archaeology. Oxford University Press, London, pp. 591-605.
  • 2013  Faith in the Familiar, Hope for Change: Trans-Atlantic Perspectives on 18th-Century Clothing, in Historical Archaeologies of Cognition, James Symonds, Anna Badcock, and Jeff Oliver, eds. Equinox Press, London, England, pp. 57-71.
  • 2013 The Paradox of the Paniolo: An Archaeological Perspective of Hawaiian Ranching. With Peter Mills and Benjamin Barna, Historical Archaeology. Vol. 47(2), pp. 110-132.
  • 2012 At Home During the Depression in Rabbithole Springs, Nevada, US. Home Cultures, Vol. 9 (1), pp. 57-76.
  • 2011 Chinese Export Porcelain. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA. With Andrew D. Madsen.
  • 2010 Trade and Exchange: Archaeological Studies from Prehistory and History. Springer Press, New York. Editor with Carolyn D. Dillian.
  • 2009 The Materiality of Individuality: Archaeological Studies of Individual Lives. Springer Press, New York. Editor.
  • 2009 Knee, Garter, Girdle, Hat, Stock, and Spur Buckles from Seven Sites in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Vol. 13, pp. 239-253.
  • 2009 "Artifacts and Personal Identity" (co-authored with Mary C. Beaudry), in The International Handbook of Historical Archaeology, Teresita Majewski and David Gaimster, eds., Springer Press, pp. 209-226.
  • 2008 Personal Adornment and Interlaced Identities at the Sherburne Site, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Historical Archaeology, Vol. 28(2), pp. 17-37.
  • 2008 "Reading Industrial Sites, " in American Industrial Archaeology: A Field Guide, by Douglas C. McVarish, Left Coast Press, p. 11.
  • 2005 American Items of Personal Adornment, 1680-1820: A Guide to Identification and Interpretation. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, CA, April 2005.
  • 2004 "What the Warners Wore: An Archaeological Investigation of Visual Appearance." In press, Northeast Historical Archaeology, pp. 39-66.

Related projects

Archeology of Artists' Studios


  • Ph.D., Boston University