Pat O'Brien papers

Identity elements

Reference code

Level of description



Pat O'Brien papers


  • 1965–2005 (Creation)


Name of creator


Biographical history

Patricia J. O’Brien was born on April 1, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois to John P. O’Brien and Edna M. Massow. She attended Nicholas Senn High School, graduating in 1953, and then worked at the Illinois Bell Telephone Company as a plant engineering clerk from 1953 to 1960. Concurrently, Pat attended Wright Junior College and graduated in 1960 with an associate’s degree in art. She then attended the University of Illinois, graduating with a bachelor’s of art in anthropology in 1962 and a Ph.D. in the same subject in 1969. Her dissertation was, “A Formal Analysis of Cahokia Ceramics: Powell Tract”. O’Brien was an interim anthropology instructor at Florida Atlantic University in 1966-1967, and became an assistant professor of archeology and sociology at Kansas State University (KSU) in September 1967.
O’Brien worked at KSU for 31 years, retiring as a professor emerita in 1998. She has published seven books and over forty articles, and has presented regularly while at KSU. She has been involved professionally, including in the American Anthropological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi. In 1989-1990, O’Brien was an Honor Lecturer at the Mid-American State Universities Association, and the following year she received the Conoco Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award and Sigma Xi deemed her a Distinguished Research Lecturer. She was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in 1994-1995 at Würzburg, Germany, and was a guest professor in 1996 at Munich, Germany. In 2009, the Plains Anthropological Society recognized her lifetime achievement of Plains-related research, teaching, scholarship, and service by awarding O'Brien with the Distinguished Service Award.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Materials held in this collection pertain to professor emerita of archeology and anthropology Patricia "Pat" J. O’Brien and her nearly 31-year career at Kansas State University. The collection includes proposals for expanded curricula within the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, reviews of this department from the Kansas Board of Regents, and documentation of events relative to the 500th anniversary of Columbus reaching the New World. Other contents include photographs from 2005 razing of the Kansas Artificial Breeding Service buildings that were on the original site of Bluemont Central College (K-State predecessor and the first site of K-State), documentation related to the Bluemont Central College monument, recorded and scripted correspondence between Pat and her friends, her latest curriculum vitae (2004), and limited correspondence with other renowned archeologists and anthropologists. Also included are oral histories with Abby Lindsey Marlatt in September 2005.

System of arrangement

This collection is made up of eighteen boxes and the original arrangement was kept which was chronologically within folders.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English
  • German

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

The accession numbers are included in this description: U2002.19, U2003.27, U2006.03, 2017-18.020, 2017-18.021, and 2017-18.022. See accession records for further information.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Patricia J. O'Brien
Acqusition Method: Donation.
Acqusition Date: 20020101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

This collection aligns with the university archives' faculty papers collecting policy and documents academic committees, department information, and institutional history.


09/01/2003; 09/02/2005; 01/30/2006; 12/17/2008; 10/23/2017

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related Materials: Related materials in the same repository include: News and Communications Services faculty files, O'Brien, Patricia J.

Related descriptions

General note

A Historical Archives Program grant (GOSA 003611) from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc., funded the processing of these papers.

Specialized notes

  • Citation: [Item title], [item date], Pat O'Brien papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.
  • Processing information: Dr. O'Brien's 2009 Distinguished Service Award plaque from the Plains Anthropological Society was originally part of the materials accepted by the Morse Department of Special Collections. It was offered by Dr. Lauren Ritterbush to the University of South Dakota for transfer to their collection of the Plains Anthropological Society. The plaque was accepted by Doris Peterson, archival assistant, to be added to the PAS collection. (June 1, 2023)

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Amy Wedel
Processing Info: Student assistant Amy Wedel processed the collection and university archivist Cliff Hight reviewed it in 2017.
Publication Date: 2017-12-01

Archivist's note

Finding Aid updated with new accession materials by Meghan Ward and AJ January.
January 2023 - August 2023
Publication date: 2023-10-30

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