Dr. David R. Starbuck in 2019
Dr. David Robert Starbuck (1949-2020)

Dr. David R. Starbuck: A Remembrance

David Robert Starbuck, archaeologist, professor, and author, was born on 2 October 1949 in Chestertown, New York, the son of Samuel L. and Frances C. (Barkley) Starbuck. His father was the fifth generation of Starbucks who lived and worked on the family’s 400-acre farm. During his high school summers, David  (with his brother James) planted what seemed to him to be an endless number of Christmas trees that were the mainstay of the farm income in those days, along with apples, beef cattle, and thousands of white Leghorn chickens. David had an egg route, which earned him the nickname “Eggman” in high school. He graduated from Central High School in Chestertown in 1967 (with an overall four-year average of 95.63 percent) and attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, for two years before transferring to the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, where he received a BA summa cum laude (Archaeology) in 1971. He later received an MPhil and a PhD (Anthropology) from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

He was a lecturer and assistant professor at Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College, University of Vermont, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Boston University, Yale University, and, most recently, professor of anthropology at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire, from 1992 to 2020.

David’s enthusiasm for local history, especially that of the French and Indian War, was inspirational. He conducted countless archeological digs in northern New York, including Fort William Henry and Battleground Park in Lake George, Rogers Island and the Sutler’s (merchant’s) House at Fort Edward, and Saratoga National Historical Park in Saratoga. His favorite areas also included the Shaker Village sites in Canterbury and Enfield, New Hampshire, and sites in Loch Lomond, Scotland, the home of his maternal ancestors. David finished his last dig at Fort Edward in November 2020 while fighting stage IV pancreatic cancer. He had been ill for about 18 months. David Starbuck died on 27 December 2020 in Chestertown, New York.

David was the archaeologist on the New Hampshire Historical Resources Council from 1980-to 2020 and at the time of his death served as its Chair. He was the editor of publications of the New Hampshire Archeological Society and of the New York State Archaeological Association; President of the Adirondack Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association; Newsletter Editor for the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology; Newsletter Editor of the New England Chapters of the Society for Industrial Archeology; Research Editor: Northeast, for the Society for Historical Archaeology; and past editor of IA, The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (for 13 years).

He was a Fellow of the New York State Archaeological Association (elected in 1995), the first “Distinguished Fellow” of Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc. (2011), recipient of the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award, awarded by Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York (2000), recipient of the Norton Prize of the Society for Industrial Archeology (1988), and recipient of the Chester B. Price Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Archeology in New Hampshire (1987). He also received an Award for Distinguished Scholarship, Plymouth State University (2008).

David’s legacy includes the 22 books that he published or edited, over 130 articles, chapters in books, and book reviews; and nearly 500 papers and talks at local, regional, and national conferences and meetings. But he felt that his most important legacy was the fact that during the course of his career he taught thousands of students and led thousands of students and volunteers at 70 archaeological field schools. His many friends at Enfield Shaker Museum will miss him.