Shirley J. Schermer

Honored by:Joseph A. Tiffany
Brick location:G:7  map

Since 1981 Shirley J. Schermer has served in an exemplary fashion as an archaeologist and skeletal biologist for the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) of The University of Iowa, and from 1987 she has been Director of the Burials Program for OSA. For many years Ms. Schermer has been responsible for coordination of comprehensive scientific study and repatriation of Native American human remains for the State of Iowa. This is time-consuming and difficult job requiring considerable patience and personal acumen to keep the various and often competing entities involved (Native Americans, scientists, government officials, and university faculty) working together towards a common end. She has performed these duties with intelligence, sensitivity, professionalism, and a dedication to public service that is as noteworthy as it is remarkable.

Ms. Schermer’s commitment to public service and professionalism extend beyond her job responsibilities and include: appointment by the Governor to the State Preserves Advisory Board in 1991, a body she has chaired since 1993; membership on the Blood Run National Landmark Advisory Committee; the Mines of Spain Scientific Advisory Board; Chair of the Anthropology section of the Iowa Academy of Science (1987); membership on the Jackson County Conservation Board (1984 to present); and the Maquoketa Historic Preservation Commission (1987 to present). Ms. Schermer is also a member of six state, regional, and national organizations including Chair of the Association of Iowa Archaeologists (1991 to present) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Iowa Archeological Society (1983 to present).

Ms. Schermer is an Iowa native from Red Oak. She received her B.A. in Natural Science from North Park College in Chicago in 1968. Initially trained as a public school teacher, she began her career teaching math, science, and social studies for two years in Chicago inner-city schools. Later, when she and her husband returned to Iowa, Ms. Schermer began a new career in archaeology and biological anthropology. She completed her M.A. in Anthropology at The University of Iowa in 1982, and has been affiliated with that institution through the OSA since that time.

Professionally, Ms. Schermer has 16 years of field experience in the Midwest and Plains. She has served as Principal or Co-principal Investigator on over 20 projects. She has taught courses for The University of Iowa and the University of Dubuque, including five field schools for the OSA and the Iowa Archeological Society at such places as the Coralville Reservoir, the Blood Run National Historic Landmark site, the Mines of Spain and the reconstructed loway village at Living History Farms. Ms. Schermer has authored or co-authored 73 articles and technical reports and has presented 23 papers at state, regional, and national conferences. Among these publications is one representing her continued interest in public education with the highly regarded Discovering Archaeology An Activity Guide for Educators. Others are listed below in the Selected Bibliography.

Ms. Schermer is the mother of three and an avid conservationist. Since taking the position at OSA in 1981, she has regularly commuted over 150 miles round trip a day to Iowa City from her home in Maquoketa where her husband works in the public school system. It is hard to imagine anyone working in state government so dedicated professionally and so committed to public service who could or would maintain such an arduous schedule, and yet be able to balance their time to raise a family as well. Shirley J. Schermer is a native Iowan who has established herself professionally among her peers in a discipline dominated by men. She has accomplished this and much more with a quiet competence that has garnered respect from all who know her. Ms. Schermer's research record, personal and professional integrity and commitment to public service deserves the recognition of all Iowans.

Selected Bibliography of Shirely J. Schermer

1985- Turin: A Middle Archaic Burial Site in Western Iowa. Co-author with W.D. Frankforter, J.A. Tiffany, and D. C. Anderson. Plains Anthropologist 30:195-218.

1985- Environmental Variables as Factors in Site Location: An Example from the Upper Midwest. Co-author with J.A. Tiffany. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 10:215-240.

1987- Preliminary Report on the 1986 Limited Survey at the Blood Run National Historic Landmark Site, Lyon County, Iowa. Contract Completion Report 248. Office of the State Archaeologist of Iowa.

1988- The Hanging Valley Site (13HR28): A Stratified Woodland Burial Locale in Western Iowa. Co-author with J.A. Tiffany, J.L. Theler, D.W. Owsley, D.C. Anderson, E.A. Bettis III, D. M. Thompson. Plains Anthropologist 3:219-259.

1990- Atresia of the External Auditory Meatus in Prehistoric Populations. Co-author with D.C. Hodges and L.A. Harker. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 83:77-81.

1992- Discovering Archaeology: A Guide for Educators. Special Publication. Office of the State Archaeologist of Iowa.

1994- Endemic Treponematosis in Prehistoric Western Iowa. Co-author with A. K. Fisher and D.C. Hodges. In, Skeletal Biology in the Great Plains: Migrations, Warfare, Health and Subsistence, edited by D.W. Owsley and R.L Jantz. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

1995- Reports on Iowa Burial Projects: Osteology and Archaeology. Co-editor with R.M. Lillie. Research Papers 20. Office of the State Archaeologist of Iowa.

Submitted on 4/17/95