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Sirarpie Der Nersessian Papers

Sirarpie Der Nersessian Papers

Sirarpie Der Nersessian and, left to right, André Grabar, Paul Alexander, and Father Francis Dvornik. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.218


Anne-Marie Viola and James N. Carder (February 2013)

The Armenian art historian Sirarpie Der Nersessian (1896–1989), a specialist in Armenian and Byzantine manuscripts, held appointments at Dumbarton Oaks at a time when the young institute was striving to become a research center of national importance. Serving first as a Resident Scholar in 1944 and then as Senior Scholar in 1945, she became Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology in 1946. She held this position until 1953 when she became the Henri Foçillon Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology at Harvard University. She retired to Paris in 1963. At Dumbarton Oaks, Der Nersessian was instrumental in mentoring scholars, organizing and overseeing symposia, and publishing books and articles on medieval manuscripts. Dumbarton Oaks has two collections of papers related to Sirarpie Der Nersessian, one in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) and the other in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives (DOA). Unlike the administrative papers held by DOA, ICFA’s holdings comprise personnel records, annual reports of Der Nersessian’s research and publications, and a sizeable number of handwritten letters detailing her project goals, research findings, and travel details to such far-flung locales as Moscow and Aleppo. Collectively, these papers give researchers a clear picture of the resident scholarly community in the early days of Dumbarton Oaks as well as the personality of one of the world’s most accomplished early female Byzantinists. Because of the importance of these holdings, metadata and cataloguing specialist Anne-Marie Viola (ICFA) and archivist James Carder (DOA) have begun to explore the possibilities of “virtually reuniting” the Der Nersessian and other similarly shared materials by using the collections management software AtoM. Once implemented, this software will allow researchers to locate subject holdings across the Dumbarton Oaks departments and, in the case of Sirarpie Der Nersessian, gain a more comprehensive picture of the scholar and her work during her time at Dumbarton Oaks. Look for more details about the development of this online inventory in the year ahead.

Professor Gabriel Millet (seated at center) with his students at the École des Hautes Études in Paris. Standing, left to right, are Ivan Radenkovic, Celina Osieczkowska, I.D Stefanescu, Vénétia Cottas, Rose Valland, and André Xyngopoulos. Seated, left to right, are Alexandra Tomiline-Larionov, Juliette Renaud, Gabriel Millet, Sirarpie Der Nersessian, and an unidentified woman. The identifications were provided by Sirarpie Der Nersessian.
Professor Gabriel Millet (seated at center) with his students at the École des Hautes Études in Paris, 1929. Standing, left to right, are Ivan Radenkovic, Celina Osieczkowska, I.D Stefanescu, Ivan Zdravkovic, Vénétia Cottas, Rose Valland, and André Xyngopoulos. Seated, left to right, are Alexandra Tomiline-Larionov, Juliette Renaud, Gabriel Millet, Sirarpie Der Nersessian, and an unidentified woman. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.219

Speakers at the 1948 Byzantine Studies Symposium, "Byzantium: The Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople." Sirarpie Der Nersessian, seated, and, left to right, Milton Anastos, Glanville Downey, Albert M. Friend, Francis Dvornik, and Paul Underwood.
Speakers at the 1948 Byzantine Studies Symposium, Byzantium: The Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. Sirarpie Der Nersessian, seated, and, left to right, Milton Anastos, Glanville Downey, Albert M. Friend, Francis Dvornik, and Paul Underwood. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.216

Sirarpie Der Nersessian (Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.090)
Sirarpie Der Nersessian, ca. 1961. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.090

Sirarpie Der Nersessian and her Sister Arax Der Nersessian, ca. 1962 (Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.217)
Sirarpie Der Nersessian and her Sister, Arax Der Nersessian, ca. 1962. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.PH.Misc.217

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