"My experience has prepared me to train a new generation and impart an appreciation for our cultural heritage."
Crider graduated with a Ph.D. in anthropology from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. In addition to her coursework, she gained extensive experience in collections management working at a federally funded repository for Arizona archaeological materials housed at the university.
She conducted basic inventory to describe and catalog artifacts from the prehistoric Hohokam culture, organized information for an online database, prepared materials for research and tribal visits, and helped develop materials for K-12 teachers and public outreach. “After receiving my degree, I was an instructor in anthropology at a community college and learned to work with students of differing cultural and religious backgrounds, ranging from high school age to retirees,” she says. “My experience has prepared me to train a new generation and impart an appreciation for our cultural heritage.”
“I teach Introduction to Museums and Collections Management courses within the museum studies program,” Crider says. “Each semester, students work directly with campus and local museum collections to research objects, develop exhibits around campus and the local community, and learn proper care and appreciation for all of the work and planning that goes into caring for our cultural heritage objects.”
She believes that objects in the collections help students learn to connect locally with global concerns. “An excellent example is the study of our recently acquired Hmong textile collection and associated archive of documents relating to the Hmong resettlement program occurring in Northeast Iowa in the 1970s and 1980s,” Crider says.
At the core of her own research, Crider strives to understand community in transition. She learns how people respond locally and regionally to economic or political collapse and community response and reorganization. She also examines how migration plays a role, what changes occur due to local environmental conditions, and how shifts in circumstance are reflected in material culture in the household, village, city, or state.
“My research is qualitative, quantitative, and interdisciplinary and can provide multiple points of access of engagement,” she says. “There is a beautiful complexity in deciphering the interplay of technology, expressions of ideology and identity, and basic economic functions exhibited in a simple bowl used for daily meals or a handcrafted skirt passed along from mother to daughter.” It also helps her determine how and why the disruptions of circumstance affect beliefs and traditions of a community.
In addition to teaching in the museum studies program, Crider serves as the anthropology lab and collections manager. “In this role, I supervise the daily operations of the lab and more than a dozen students who serve as collections assistants,” she says. “Most of the students are working toward degrees in anthropology and/or museum studies.”
Crider provides structure and guidance in setting priorities for documenting and caring for Luther’s cultural collections. Her primary goal is for students to develop a diverse set of professional skills in anthropological research and museum practice. “We strive to work together as a team to accomplish both short- and long-term projects,” she says. “I make every effort to encourage an environment where everyone is engaged in the activities of the lab. Ultimately, I want students to graduate from Luther with confidence in their intellectual abilities and experience in creative problem-solving, and along the way gain an appreciation for our shared cultural heritage.”
The liberal arts gives me the opportunity to learn alongside students. We tackle problems together and experiment with new approaches to understanding our collection objects and explore effective ways to share our ideas with others on campus. It’s exciting to find intersections between our lab and museum projects, local history, and significant world events.