Virginia Drew Watson was born on June 17, 1918, in Tomah, Wisconsin. Her undergraduate work was completed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received a PhB in Sociology (1940). She conducted graduate work for both AM (1943) and PhD (1965) degrees at the University of Chicago. She was a Fellow of both the American Anthropological Association and the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Virginia Watson's early work was in archaeology, but later she pursued both archaeology and socio-cultural anthropology. She married James B. Watson, a cultural anthropologist, in 1943. During that year they went to Brazil, where Virginia Watson's work was primarily ethnographic among the Cayua Indians of Mato Grosso. On the trip returning from the field to Sao Paulo the Watsons stopped at the archaeological site of Ciudad Real del Guayra. From 1944 to 1945 Watson worked in the Cultural Relations Department of the American Consulate General in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Watsons made two trips to the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The first, 1954-1955, was funded by the Ford Foundation. Watson focused on socio-cultural aspects of the Tairora and Agarabi groups, and her work resulted in the 1965 publication of her dissertation, "Agarabi Female Roles and Family Structure, a study of socio-cultural change." The Watsons' second Papua New Guinea trip was in 1963-1964. It was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and focused on the Tairora and Gadsup groups. For Virginia Watson, the second trip was partly connected to archaeological work previously carried out by J. David Cole. Due to illness, he was unable to analyze the mass of material (25,000 objects) that he had collected. Watson analyzed the material and produced publications, one of which was in collaboration with Cole.
Virginia Watson often held one or more part-time positions. As a graduate student in 1942, she was a part-time Lecturer in the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. On returning from Brazil, the Watsons moved to Oklahoma University in Norman for one year. There, Watson supervised archeology students in sorting and putting in order the university collection of artifacts as well as directing them in the field. From 1948 to 1953 Watson was a Lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and she also directed students in field work. During the St. Louis years the Watsons spent two summers studying the Anglo-Spanish community in Colorado. From 1957 to 1963 she was a Lecturer at Seattle University and from 1961 to 1971 she was also an Occasional Lecturer at the University of Washington, Seattle. From 1969 to 1989 Watson held the position of Affiliate Curator at the Burke Museum, University of Washington. After she retired, Virginia Watson spent her winters in Florida and her summers in Boulder, Colorado.
Virginia Watson died in 2007.
Watson, Virgina Drew. "Curriculum vitae, 2001, For National Anthropological Archives." Virginia Drew Watson papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
"James Watson III."
Bangor Daily News
, December 10, 2009.
Born on June 17 in Tomah, Wisconsin
Earned PhB in Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lecturer in archaeology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Earned AM from University of Chicago
Married James B. Watson
Field research of the Cayua Indians, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Worked in the Cultural Relations Department of the American Consulate General in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Special Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, Norman
Lecturer in anthropology and archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis
Field research of the Anglo-Spanish community, Del Norte, Colorado
First field research trip to the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Lecturer in anthropology at Seattle University
Lecturer in anthropology at the University of Washington, Seattle
Second field research trip to the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Earned PhD from the University of Chicago
Published dissertation: "Agarabi Female Roles and Family Structure, a study of socio-cultural change"
Affiliate Curator of Melanesian Archaeology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington