Smithsonian Olmec Legacy

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Matthew Stirling and Tres Zapotes Monument G. Tres Zapotes, 1939. stirling_19. Photograph by Richard H. Stewart, National Anthropological Archives

Marion Stirling Pugh
1911 - 2001

Portrait of Marion Stirling
stirling_089 (detail), M.W. Stirling Collection, National Anthropological Archives

Marion Stirling was born Marion Illig in Middletown, New York. She moved to Washington, D.C. after receiving her B.S. degree from Rider College in 1930. While in George Washington University graduate school, she worked as a secretary to Matthew W. Stirling, director of the Bureau of American Ethnology (B.A.E.) at the Smithsonian Institution. In 1933 Marion Illig and Matthew Stirling were married.

Marion Stirling was part of all but one of the Smithsonian/National Geographic Archaeological Expeditions to Mexico. She played an important role in the expeditions, as companion and collaborator to her husband. Following the Mexico fieldwork, she accompanied her Matthew Stirling to Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica, and authored or co-authored several articles about their research.

Marion Stirling was a member or trustee of various professional organizations, including the Association of American Geographers, the Society of Women Geographers, the National Geographic Society, and the Textile Museum. In 1974 she established the Mexican Research Fund, later renamed the Latin American Research Fund, to increase the Textile Museum's collections of ethnographic textiles from Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru.

After Matthew Stirling's death, Marion Stirling married Major General John Ramsey Pugh in 1977. Marion Stirling Pugh died at the age of ninety, in 2001.

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