Biographical / Historical
Matthew Williams Stirling (1896-1975) was educated at the University of California (B.A., 1920) and George Washington University (M.S.,1922). He was awarded a D.Sc. by Tampa University in 1943. From 1921-1924, Stirling was a museum aid and assistant curator in the Smithsonian Institution's Division of Ethnology. In 1928, after several years absence from the Smithsonian staff, he became the chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology. He continued in the position until 1957, his title changing to director in 1947. After his retirement, Stirling was a research associate of the Smithsonian, a collaborator in archeology with the National Park Service, and a member of the Committee on Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society. In addition to his career as an administrator, Stirling was active in the field, carrying out excavations in Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, New Guinea, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Mexico. He is best known for his discoveries relating to the Olmec civilization.