Gary Stanton is a material culture scholar with a Ph. D. in American Folklore. He was raised in desert parts of California and attended the University of California at Santa Barbara where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Sociology. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1968 and attended the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. His first and only duty assignment was as a teacher in the Psychological Operations Department of the John F. Kennedy Center for Special Warfare. He did not see duty in Vietnam. Following his honorable separation from the military he moved to Bloomington, Indiana where he began his graduate training in Folklore in 1974. He received both his Masters of Arts (1977) and Doctor of Philosophy (1985) degrees from Indiana University.
For most of his professional life he has been employed as a teacher at the undergraduate level. Because of the substantial classroom requirements of his work he has focused on topics in close proximity to his school and sought to serve the larger educational goal by making available public records to the general public through electronically facilitated databases. This included research in Indiana, South Carolina and for the past twenty-one years in Virginia. He has been, and will again this year assume the role of the Chair of the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington. Professionally he has been a participant and board member of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and a member in good standing of the American Folklore Society. As a teacher he emphasizes the periodic reformulation of basic principles within any profession or discipline and he asserts that a re-configuration of historic preservation as heritage activity is a contemporary example of this need to re-focus and re-value.