Georgia’s archaeological community has recently lost one of its own. Journalist, artist, archaeologist, and ethnohistorian, Marilyn Pennington passed away on June 9, 2006 at the age of 75. Pennington was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1950. After working as a reporter for The Marietta Daily Journal, as a freelance journalist, as an antique dealer at Scott Antique Market, and as an artist who sold her well-respected work in a shop at the High Museum and at the Piedmont Park Art Festival, and after raising three children, Marilyn Pennington returned to the University of Georgia in her 40s to earn a Master’s degree in anthropology.
Her thesis, entitled ‚“A Comparison of Non-flaked Stone Artifacts from Two Early Historic Sites in Northwestern Georgia,” reflected the interest she developed in Native Americans during the contact and historic period. An example of her treatment of ethnohistoric materials can be found in her Early Georgia (6:1 & 2) article, ‚“Stone Tools in Historical Accounts, 1521-1800.” Some of her other notable scholarly contributions include ‚“Standing Peach Tree: Report of Ethnohistorical Accounts” in Archeological and Historical Research in the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area (1979), which was prepared for the National Park Service, and the Early Georgia volume (3:1) she edited entitled Georgia Prehistory: An Overview in Time and Space. When employed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, she taped an interview with Arthur Kelly in 1973 that was transcribed as a document entitled ‚“In His Own Words: An Interview with Dr. Arthur Kelly (1900-1979),” edited by Mark Williams. This effort is a fascinating and valuable account of archaeology in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States from the 1930s into the 1970s.
Although she came to Native American studies through archaeology, her interests shifted over time to ethnology and linguistics. She spent time living among the Cherokee, collecting oral history, and studying native Southeastern languages.
Ms. Pennington had been paralyzed from the shoulders down for the last three years after contracting a virus that triggered the autoimmune disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome. Nonetheless, friends indicated that she remained intellectually engaged, despite her physical limitations. She ultimately succumbed to complications from cancer. She will be missed by family, friends, and colleagues.