Hester Ashmead Davis was an active participant in the development of Cultural Resources Management legislation and programs in the United States. Born June 4, 1930 in Ayer, Massachusetts, she took an unconventional route to a career in Archeology at a time when few opportunities existed for women.
After receiving a B.A. in history from Rollins College in 1955, an M.A. in Social and Technical Assistance from Haverford College in 1955, and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina in 1957, Hester became preparator at the University of Arkansas Museum in 1959. This began a lifelong association with archeology in Arkansas, first at the Museum until 1967, and then as State Archeologist with the Araksnsas Archeological Survey from 1967 to 1999, when she retired.
At Arkansas, Hester became associated with Charles R. McGimsey III, and they were both involved for more than a decade in CRM issues and activities. She participated in the foundational Airlie House Seminars and co-edited the subsequent report in 1977. She was a founding member of the National Association of State Archeologists, the American Society for Conservation Archeology, and the Society of Professional Archeologists, and served in numerous committee and officer positions, including President in the latter two organizations.
In Arkansas, Hester extended her role in public archeology and CRM through several organizations. She was a member of the Arkansas State Review Board on Historic Preservation from 1969 to 2000, and served terms as Vice Chair and Chair. She taught a Public Archeology course that included CRM at the University of Arkansas between 1974 and 1991. She was a founding member of the Arkansas Archeological Society, and served in several officer positions including 20 years as editor of the Bulletin, and 40 years as editor of the newsletter.
On the regional level, she was a long time member of numerous organizations, including the Southeastern Archeological Conference and the Southeastern Archeological Conference and the Southeastern Museums Conference, serving as President of both. Nationally, she was a member of the Society for American Archeology, the Socity for Historic Archeology, the Coordinating Council of National Archeological Societies, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Association for Field Archaeology, and served on boards and committees in all of them. She was a consultant for several Federal Agencies, including the National park Service and Bureau of Land Management, and was a CRM program reviewer and/or consultant to a long list of agencies and Universities.
Along with her election to the Board of Trustees for US/ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), the US’ committee for UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites, her most important internationally ranked role and one that she was especially proud of, Hester was also appointed (by Bill Clinton) to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, a committee appended to the US Department of State, that advises the president and USIA on matters of cultural property ownership and repatriation that arise through UNESCO provisions and actions.