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The Office Of The State Archaeologist Celebrates 60 Years

The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) has now been documenting and preserving artifacts significant to Iowa's history for 60 years.

The OSA, which is based at the University of Iowa, employs 23 full-time archaeologists and historic preservation specialists in addition to many students and volunteers.

During an open house  in celebration of their 60th anniversay last Friday, IPR Producer Matt Alvarez stopped in for a tour from State Archaeologist John Doershuk. 

Doershuk says the office was founded on April 7, 1959 through an Iowa legislative act. The OSA then grew from just one full time staff member to its current size over the decades. He says the office now acts as a repository for all artifacts discovered across Iowa, housing approximately four million objects from 14,000 archaeological sites. The items span from the late 19th century to present day. 

"Everything is very carefully packaged for curation," Doershuk says. "We are trying to make this stuff available down the line, not just for ten years but for a century or more."

OSA Research Director Cindy Peterson also joins Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe to discuss the history of the OSA. 


  • John Doershuk, director and state archaeologist at the Office of the State Archaelogist
  • Cindy Peterson, research director at the Office of the State Archaelogist
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa