Since joining the OHS staff in 1961, Martha Otto has served in a variety of capacities from Student Assistant to Senior Curator of Archaeology. During her tenure, she has participated in numerous excavations of Adena, Hopewell, Late Woodland, and Late Prehistoric sites in central and southern Ohio. She has participated in the development and installation of all the exhibits at the Society's archaeological site museums as well as the archaeological exhibits at the Ohio Historical Center, including The First Ohioans and Windows To Our Collections: Ohio's Ancient Past.
As a steward of the Society's extensive archaeological collections, Martha works with OHS staff and volunteers to physically maintain the collections and to make them more accessible to the public. Martha coordinates loans of OHS artifacts for exhibition at other institutions, most recently with the Art Institute of Chicago to which the Society loaned a number of objects for the critically-acclaimed, multi-venue show, Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand. She also enjoys working with colleagues from other museums and universities who frequently examine portions of the archaeological collections as part of their own research projects. The Society's Late Woodland collections formed the basis for her Master's degree in anthropology from the Ohio State University.
In the area of public education, Martha teaches DISCOVER ARCHAEOLOGY!, a program that introduces elementary school classes to the science of archaeology in an interactive, hands-on program including both field work and laboratory experience. She assisted in the production of and provided content for two CD-ROMs produced by the Society, The Hopewell Mound Group: Its People and Their Legacy, and What's the Point? Identifying Flint Artifacts.
Her personal research interests focus on the development of ceramics and of agriculture in the Ohio Valley. Her study of the effigy pipes from the Tremper mound is documented in: Masterworks in Pipestone: Treasures from Tremper Mound, Timeline, 1(1), Ohio Historical Society, Columbus (1984); A Prehistoric Menagerie: Ohio Hopewell Effigy Pipes; Proceedings of the 1989 Smoking Pipe Conference: Selected Papers, Rochester Museum and Science Center Research Records No. 22, Rochester, NY (1992)
She also recently contributed a chapter, A Brief History of Archaeological Investigations at Fort Ancient, Warren County, Ohio, in The Fort Ancient Earthworks: Prehistoric Lifeways of the Hopewell Culture in Southwestern Ohio, edited by Connolly and Lepper, and published by OHS (2004).
Martha and her husband, Frank, are active in a number of local ASO chapters. Leisure-time activities include traveling with Frank, particularly to other museums and archaeological sites.