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Byzantine Institute, Inc. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork records and papers, circa late 1920s-2000s: Finding Aid

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard Library, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MS.BZ.004
Repository: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Byzantine Institute, Inc., 1930-1962
Creator: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1940-
Title: The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork records and papers
Date(s): circa late 1920s-2000s
Quantity: 1 collection
Quantity: 1 Collection
Language of materials: Coptic, English, French, German, Greek, Russian, Turkish

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Between 1993 and 2012, ICFA received the rest of the Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork files from the Dumbarton Oaks Archives and Research Library. Items were arranged in folders by the name of the individual, institution, or project in alphabetical order at the time of receipt. Overall, because there is little documentation, it is difficult to determine the collection's overall acquisition history.
ICFA received additional Kariye Camii materials from Robert Ousterhout in September 2012. Materials include oversize drawings, architectural building plans, notes, and reports.

Custodial History:

The fieldwork records and papers of the Byzantine Institute were transferred to Dumbarton Oaks in two shipments in the 1950s and were initially stored in various locations, such as Paul Underwood's office, Dumbarton Oaks Archives, and the Research Library. From the Byzantine Institute Library in Paris, the first shipment in May 1952 included archaeological papers, notebooks, photographs, negatives, diagrams, and drawings. In January 1957, the second shipment contained oversize plans and drawings from the Red Sea Monasteries, cramp charts from Hagia Sophia, films, negatives, Coptic textiles, and specimens of mosaic cubes. In December 1995, it was discovered that 14 fieldwork notebooks were stored at the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT-Istanbul). The transfer of the notebooks from ARIT to ICFA was finally approved in January 1997 by the Board of Directors and Anthony Greenwood, Director of ARIT-Istanbul.
In the mid-1990s, Professor Bentley Layton, Goff Professor of Religious Studies (Ancient Christianity) and Professor of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations (Coptic) at Yale University, returned the water-color copies of Egypt's St. Anthony Monastery, which he had requested in order to conduct a photographic survey of Coptic paintings in churches with Fr. Leroy and Professor Paul van Moorsel in Egypt.

Processing Information:

Inventory, collection arrangement, and processing were initially undertaken by Jeff Schlosberg, ICFA Intern, between 1981 and 1982. The collection was organized in chronological order and then by site. Between 1990s and 2000s, the collection was re-organized and re-processed by former staff members and interns of ICFA, including Natalia Teteriatnikov, Gerrianne Schaad, and Rebecca Bruner. The collection was re-ordered by the author's last name and then by location.
In the Summer of 2010, Rona Razon, Archivist, Anna McWilliams, and Sharon Ke (former ICFA interns) completed digitization of the Kariye Camii black and white photographs to provide better access to the images. They have been cataloged in ICFA's legacy cataloging software called OLIVIA.
In September 2010, Rona Razon, Archivist, and Laurian Douthett, Archivist Assistant, evaluated the existing finding aid and collection arrangement. The ICFA staff decided to re-organize the collection, once again, in chronological order and then by site based on Schlosberg's inventory and original transfer lists from the Byzantine Institute. The ICFA staff believe that the collection should be organized chronologically or by the order of fieldwork projects in order to bring back the items to its original arrangement and to fully highlight the organizations' administrative and fieldwork history.
Collection assessment, arrangement, inventory, and a draft finding aid were completed in September 2012 by Razon and Douthett. Archival processing was completed by Elizabeth Bayley, Archivist Assistant, in February 2013. The finding aid was edited by Rona Razon, Shalimar White, Manager of ICFA, Günder Varinlioğlu, former Byzantine Assistant Curator, and Fani Gargova, Byzantine Research Associate, and was finalized in April 2013.
In February 2014, Gargova, and Megan Cook, ICFA Research Associate, completed digitization of the Red Sea Monasteries photographs from the Site Books nos. 18-20 to provide better access to the images.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access to the collection is unrestricted. It is available for research purposes. Appointment is required for access because researcher space is limited: http://www.doaks.org/icfa-appointment-request-form. For research queries, contact the staff of Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (icfa@doaks.org).

Conditions Governing Use:

Duplication of the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Existence and Location of Copies:

For digital copies of materials in this collection, see the following:
  • Red Sea Monasteries, Egypt (photographs) - See the online exhibit entitled "Before Byzantiium: The Early Archaeological Activities of Thomas Whittemore (1871-1931)," http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/icfa/special-projects/online-exhibitions/before-byzantium/red-sea-monasteries-gallery
  • Red Sea Monasteries, Egypt (motion picture film) - http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/icfa/moving-image-collections/red-sea-monasteries and the online exhibit entitled "A Truthful Record: The Byzantine Institute Films," http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/icfa/special-projects/online-exhibitions/a-truthful-record/history/red-sea-monastery
  • Conservation of Mosaics at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (photographs) - http://via.lib.harvard.edu/via/deliver/deepLinkResults?kw2=byzantine%20institute%20of%20america&kw1=hagia%20sophia&bool1=and&index2=Name&index1=Title&repositoryLimit=Dumbarton%20Oaks
  • Conservation work at Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii, Istanbul (motion picture films) - http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/icfa/moving-image-collections and the online exhibit entitled "A Truthful Record: The Byzantine Institute Films," http://www.doaks.org//icfa/truthful-record
  • Preferred Citation:

    The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. late 1920s-2000s, MS.BZ.004, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

    Releated units of description at Dumbarton Oaks

    Releated units of description at other institutions

    Historical Note

    The Byzantine Institute (commonly known as the Byzantine Institute of America) was founded by Thomas Whittemore in 1930. On May 23, 1934, the Byzantine Institute officially became the Byzantine Institute, Inc. when it was issued a charter from the State of Massachusetts. Its mission was to conserve, restore, study, and document the Byzantine monuments, sites, architecture, and arts in the former Byzantine Empire. The first official project undertaken by the Institute was the examination and documentation of wall paintings at the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, which occurred between 1929 and 1931. By capturing select Byzantine iconography from the walls of St. Anthony and St. Paul, Vladimir Netchetailov produced oversize watercolor paintings of saints (Saints George, Mercurius, and Theodore Strateletes) and religious scenes (The Resurrection and Deësis).
    In June 1931, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Turkey, permitted Whittemore and the Byzantine Institute to uncover and restore the original mosaics in Hagia Sophia, which had been covered in Islamic motifs when the church was converted into a mosque in 1453 by the Ottoman Turks. With approval from the Turkish government, the Institute began the conservation and restoration campaign in December 1931. While fieldwork primarily focused on sites within Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii, conservation efforts were also expanded to Cyprus and present-day Macedonia.
    In June 1950, Thomas Whittemore, founder of the Byzantine Institute, died while en route to the State Department office of John Foster Dulles. Subsequently, Paul Atkins Underwood was appointed as the Fieldwork Director of the Byzantine Institute, a position he held until his death on September 22, 1968. While this marked a transition period for the Institute, Underwood assumed the oversight of repair and restoration in Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii. These endeavors resulted in the uncovering of the 7th century pavement in the Church of the Pantocrator (Molla Zeyrek Camii), the restoration of mosaics in Fethiye Camii (Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos), and finally the repair work in Fenari Isa (Lips Monastery). The projects also led to several publications, such as The mosaics of Hagia Sophia at Istanbul, the portrait of the Emperor Alexander: a report on the work done by the Byzantine Institute in 1959 and 1960 by Paul A. Underwood and Ernest J. W. Hawkins. Because of insufficient funding, the Byzantine Institute officially terminated its administrative and fieldwork operations in 1962 and transferred its assets to Dumbarton Oaks. In January of 1963, Dumbarton Oaks and the trustees of Harvard University assumed all fieldwork activities formerly initiated by the Institute. Dumbarton Oaks directed and sponsored new fieldwork projects in Turkey (Church of St. Polyeuktos), Cyprus (Church of the Panagia Amasgou at Monagri), Syria (Dibsi Faraj), and present-day Macedonia (Bargala).



    Based on the method of creation, medium, and fieldwork order, the collection is divided into 2 main subgroups: Administrative Records and Fieldwork Papers. These subgroups are split into multiple series and the contents are arranged in chronological order (and alphabetical order, if the author's name exists). The dates listed are inclusive of the dates indicated on the archival items. Some dates, however, are based on Jeff Schlosberg's 1981-1982 inventory (mostly written on the verso of the individual items) especially if the item has no original date. For the technical dates of each fieldwork project, see ICFA's "History of the Byzantine Institute Projects."

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains fieldwork records and papers produced by the staff of the Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks, as well as Thomas Whittemore and Paul Underwood, between the 1920s and 2000s. It is comprised of correspondence, minutes, financial records, logbooks, fieldwork notebooks, research notes, ground plans, maps, oversize drawings, tracings, paintings, photographs, films, newspaper clippings, and publication materials. The collection is organized by the method of creation and medium in chronological or fieldwork order. It is divided into 2 major subgroups: Administrative Records and Fieldwork Papers.
    The bulk of the collection spans the decades between the 1930s and 1980s, with the largest portion of materials relating to projects conducted at Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii in Istanbul, as well as later projects in Turkey, Cyprus, and present-day Macedonia. The arrangement of this collection illustrates the early operations and development of the Byzantine Institute through Thomas Whittemore's death in 1950, the Institute's dissolution in 1962, and the fieldwork operations supported by Dumbarton Oaks from the 1960s to 2000s. It also captures the administrative affairs and day-to-day fieldwork activities that centered on the conservation and restoration techniques employed by the fieldworkers.
    There is an Addendum of available research materials compiled by ICFA staff.

    Addendum: Accumulated Research Materials by ICFA Staff

    These materials were compiled by the ICFA staff during the processing of this collection. These items were used to help write the acquisition history and historical note of the Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork projects. Box: 1 Collection Guides
    Box 2: Articles, Publications, and Resources Contains copies of published articles and archival materials from various repositories, such as the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives at Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard University Archives

    Other Finding Aids

    Container List

    Additional Index Terms

    Field notes
    Research notes
    Photographic print
    Virgin Mary
    Virgin Mary and Christ Child
    Art museum
    Photograph album
    Motion picture
    Wall painting
    Imperial portrait
    Donor portrait
    World War II
    Research center
    Byzantine music
    Fund raising
    Istanbul riots
    Financial record
    Archaeological site
    Monastery of Saint Catherine
    Mount Athos
    Monastery of Saint Anthony
    Monastery of Saint Paul
    Dibsi Faraj
    Aya Sofya
    Kariye Camii
    Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1940-
    Byzantine Institute, Inc., 1930-1962
    Underwood, Paul A., 1902-1968
    Whittemore, Thomas, 1871-1950