George C. Frison Institute

of Archaeology & Anthropology

Photo of George Frison at the Colby site in 1975



It is with a heavy heart that I report that Dr. George C. “Doc” Frison (1924-2020) passed away on September 7th. In his 50+ year archaeological career, he became the center of Wyoming archaeology as one of the founders of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming. He conducted groundbreaking archaeological research and was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1997. His impact on the field of archaeology has been immense. He will always be remembered as Wyoming’s “Rancher Archaeologist” as well as a generous teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend.



Following Dr. Frison's passing, the George C. Frison Memorial Fund was created by the institute in order two collect donations and gifts in honor of Dr. Frison. Donations to this endowed fund will go directly to supporting critical archaeological and anthropological research in the West, topics that were near and dear to Dr. Frison's heart over his long career. Please consider making a donation to this fund soon. If you would like to donate, please make checks payable to the George C. Frison Institute. Donations should be mailed to:

George C. Frison Institute

Department of Anthropology (Dept. 3431)

University of Wyoming

1000 E. University Ave. 82071



The mission of the Frison Institute is to enhance and promote the department of anthropology’s research and educational programs. It achieves this goal largely by funding archaeological research in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains, through student and faculty participation in international educational and research opportunities, and through public outreach, including an annual lecture (in September), volunteer participation in field and lab programs, public talks by the Director and department faculty, and cooperation with the Wyoming Archaeological Society. 

The Institute is named after George C. Frison, UW professor emeritus.  Born and raised in Ten Sleep, Dr. Frison spent his early years working sheep and cattle. But he devoted his spare time to collecting arrowheads, exploring the many caves of the Bighorn Mountains, and developing a love for the history and prehistory of Wyoming.  During World War II he joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific.  Encouraged by several professional archaeologists, he entered the University of Wyoming to study archaeology in 1962.  He then attended the University of Michigan, obtaining his doctorate in a record three years.  Dr. Frison returned to Wyoming in 1967 as head of the new Department of Anthropology;  in 1968, he became the first Wyoming State Archaeologist. 

George literally wrote the book on Wyoming archaeology (Prehistoric Hunters of the High Plains).  His many books and papers have made him an internationally-recognized figure in archaeology. He has received the lifetime achievement award from the Society for American Archaeology, the University of Wyoming’s Distinguished Former Faculty award, and the College of Arts and Sciences Medallion award.  When he retired, the state legislature celebrated George Frison Day to recognize his election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.  His commitment to quality research, his selflessness, and quiet western manners have enriched the lives of all who have known him.

George Frison 2020Todd A. SurovellDirector, Frison InstituteAnthropology, Dept. 34311000 E. University AvenueLaramie, WY 82071
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Contact Us

Anthropology Department

12th and Lewis Streets

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5136


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