The late Pat Ritzenthaler

The late Pat Ritzenthaler

Mrs. Robert Ritzenthaler established the Dr. Robert Ritzenthaler Memorial Scholarship to honor her husband’s legacy. Robert Ritzenthaler was born in Milwaukee in 1911. He grew up in Wisconsin and obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He went on to receive a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University in 1950. He worked at the Milwaukee Public Museum from 1938 to his retirement in 1972, serving as Anthropology Curator. He remained very active at the museum after his retirement and was a significant contributor to the educational, intellectual and cultural life of the Anthropology Department at UWM up until his death in 1980.

Dr. Ritzenthaler was well known for his contributions to Midwestern archaeology, specifically the Old Copper Culture of Wisconsin, publishing several books and articles on the subject. He also traveled extensively with his wife, conducting field studies all over the world including the American Midwest and Southwest, Micronesia, Mexico, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Cameroon.

He was devoted to his work as an anthropologist and museum curator, saying that it was the nature of the museum field that allowed him to explore a wide range of anthropological research and collecting endeavors.


To honor the long career and impact of Dr. Robert Ritzenthaler, his memorial fund continues to be used decades after his death to support a strong partnership between UWM’s anthropology department and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Students are supported so that they can gain hands-on experience at the Museum.