J(ames) Louis Giddings (1909-1964), professor of anthropology, was born in Caldwell, Texas on April 10, 1909. He received his bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of Alaska in 1932, his M.A. in anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1941, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951. From 1932 to 1937 he worked as an assistant engineer with the Fairbanks Exploration Department of U.S. Smelting, Refining and Mining Company. He began working with the Eskimos in 1934 and later excavated archaeological sites at Cape Denbigh and on the Seward Peninsula. From 1940 until 1951 (with three years off for service in World War II) he taught at the University of Alaska, where he was director of archaeological research and museum curator from 1938 to 1949. He was assistant curator of the American section of the Museum and assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, before being brought to Brown in 1956 to take charge of the recently acquired Haffenreffer Museum of the American Indian, and develop it into a teaching and research center and also a museum for the public. His appointment as associate professor of sociology reintroduced the study of anthropology to the Sociology Department. He was promoted to professor of anthropology in 1959.
After 1956 he concentrated on the area around Kotzebue Sound where he made important archaeological discoveries. His last expedition to Alaska was in the summer of 1964. He died in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on December 9, 1964 of injuries suffered in an automobile accident November 3. In 1966 a previously unnamed 10,180 foot peak about eighty-five miles from Fairbanks, Alaska, was given the name Mount Giddings by the U. S. Department of the Interior to honor “the leading Alaskan archaeologist at the time of his death.”