Katherine Carlton

Concentrations/Minors: Anthropological archaeology, minor in Museum Studies and Native American studies

Why did you decide to pursue the museum studies minor?
I decided to pursue the minor because I was interested in majoring in archaeology and minoring in Native American studies, which led me to an interest in repatriation and I was really drawn to those ethical aspects of archaeology. And I first heard about the minor when I was doing a dig in Arizona with professor Lisa Young and we were working there and I was really interested in issues of ownership and tribal involvement and repatriation, and Ray Silverman came out to the field that summer and that’s when we heard that they were thinking about creating the minor. And it fit perfectly with what I was interested. They launched the minor when I was going into my senior year and I fit it all in. And I was able to complete my trifecta of interest.

How did the museum studies minor impact your other fields of study?
It just really helped to give a more holistic picture. In archaeology, there are obviously a lot of issues related to museums. I was able to pursue a thesis in the anthropology department that focused on my interests in Native American studies and museum studies. It really helped me round everything out.

What was your favorite class that you took for the minor requirements and why?
Definitely Museums 401, Ethical Issues in Archaeology. I took that last semester of my senior year. It was perfect because I kind of had law school in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t sure. I knew I didn’t want to work in a museum or do archaeology, per se, but I thought that I could hopefully tie all my interests together through practicing law. Issues of repatriation, protection of historic sites, museum aquisitins, etc. - it gave me a focused direction for my life in general. So it helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life.

How was your internship experience?
I worked at the museum of anthropology photographing the baskets from the Great Lakes collection, which was perfect because I was working on my thesis at the same time and my thesis was about digital representation of artifacts and the whole concept of digital repatriation. So my thesis was about how is knowledge-sharing different in the virtual environment. As part of my thesis, I got to do this internship where I took photographs of these objects and put them online on a database and study how tribes used the databases and communicated their knowledge about the artifacts.

How do you feel your life at the university and beyond has been and will be affected by pursuing a museum studies minor?
The minor has affected me in lots and lots of ways. After I graduated, I got an internship at the NAGPRA office in D.C., which is the office that facilitates repatriation. And they said that they hired me specifically because of my museum studies background. It’s very rare for that to be area of study, so that gave me an edge in applying to those internships. I think one of the reasons I got in to the law schools I did and Michigan’s law school in particular is because of my diverse background. It helps to have that diversity. Actually, the admissions office to the UofM law school wrote a personal note on my acceptance letter, saying “you have such a cool background, I love that you worked at all these museums.” And then I chose to attend law school at the University of Michigan because I can pursue the graduate certificate program in museum studies. So the minor really led me on that path.

Why would you recommend a student to pursue a museum studies minor?
I would recommend it because I think it could help you in anything you choose to go into. It doesn’t have to be museums. I’m in law school and somehow I managed to use the minor. I would recommend the minor to anyone because it’s so holistic and helps you think about issues.

Where do you see museums fitting into your future?
I want to do museum law, so hopefully I’ll be working with museums for the rest of my life. I hope to work with museums and their legal department. As a lawyer, I hope that I’ll have involvement with museums for the rest of my life.