Don Stephen Rice
BT: Thanks so much for speaking with us today.
DR: You’re welcome.
BT: To begin with, just the simple stuff, could you go over how you came to Dumbarton Oaks?
DR: Well, that’s a pretty good question, I’ve been thinking about that. I joined the, what’s it called, the Senior Fellows’ panel in 1984, and Gordon Willey was the head of the panel at the time; I don’t know how long he had been head of the panel. But my wife is an archaeologist, and I had interactions with Gordon regarding some archaeology done by a colleague of his, William Bollard, and after Bollard’s passing my wife was following up on excavations of ceramic data, so I knew Gordon. And I can only assume that he suggested I might be a panel member. But to be honest I hadn’t really spent any time at Dumbarton Oaks, except for maybe at one of the autumn conferences, until I was actually on the panel. I wasn’t a Fellow or anything like that.
BT: We went through the directory and record, and it had you as a Senior Fellow from ’84-’85, then obviously chair from ’86-’90, but there was that gap in ’85-’86?
DR: Yeah. Was there really? [laughing] To be honest I don’t remember a gap, but it could well be we were in the field at the time. My wife and I were working in the Central Lakes area, the department at the time, Guatemala, we may have had a grant to put us in the field during that period. I honestly don’t remember.
BT: So, you’re a Senior Fellow, obviously a little more involved. How did you become chair? Who approached you?
DR: [laughing] I don’t know. You know it’s funny, I don’t know whether that was a decision that Gordon and Elizabeth Boone made, I don’t recall being approached and asked, “Will you do this,” or if there was a vote among the panel or anything like that, I really don’t know. There was a bit of changeover when I became the head of the panel, I mean Gordon rotated off, and I think Jerry Sabloff replaced him on the panel, but I don’t really know. Some of the panel members at that time were, if not friends, at least academic colleagues. Jerry Sabloff was one, Mike Moseley was another, and you know together with Gordon and Elizabeth they may have said something. To be honest I’m not all together – I’m not sure how that process works. I know when I rotated off I had a conversation with Elizabeth Boone about suggestions for who might replace me, and that may have been the same kind of conversation that took place when I was put on, and also took place when I became the head of it.
BT: You mentioned Gordon Willey; he was obviously chair for a bit. Did you interact with him a lot, because he’s obviously a very big name –
DR: Well, yeah. I never worked with him in the field, I wasn’t a student of his, nor was my wife. Our initial contact with him, or academic contact, was, again, work, and following up on William Bollard’s work. I visited Harvard a couple of times, he had a student who’s since become a very close friend as well as colleague of mine, Richard Leventhal, and Richard and I had interacted in the field when Richard was a student, and that reinforced the relationship with Gordon. But I only saw him socially a couple times, in Cambridge, and really our interaction was at Dumbarton Oaks, when they – there was a period when Harvard was interviewing people to fill various positions, and my wife interviewed for a position that was to be created that was largely focused on technology and production of goods and ceramics and glyphs and all that kind of stuff. And she interviewed there, and I actually interviewed there at one point when – no, they were looking for Gordon’s position or somebody to come in after he retired, but I interviewed there. It wasn’t a very good interview, I remember that, and that was pretty much our contact. He was always very, very nice to us, very helpful, to the degree that we helped him fulfill his concerns about William Bollard’s material. I hope we did that.
BT: Could you talk about your time as chair of the Senior Fellows? Responsibilities? What exactly the job entailed?
DR: Well, it was actually – I have to say a heady experience, because I was relatively young compared to a number of the people who had been on the panel and were on the panel, and you know Dumbarton Oaks already was a force in Mesoamerican archaeology and Latin American archaeology generally. It was prestigious to be on the panel and it was prestigious to be a Fellow there, and being the chair of the panel was relatively easy. I don’t recall ever having conversations during the panel meetings or afterwards that reflected any discord. Usually the agendas were set out, if not by Elizabeth, with Elizabeth Boone and I talking about it, and I kind of served as a moderator. You know, we had a number of things we wanted to talk about. We wanted to talk about the health of the collections to the degree that there were any acquisitions, or to the degree we lend materials from the collections to exhibitions. For me one of the, I guess, most important things was the selection of Fellows, senior Fellows and Junior Fellows, and also during the time I was on the panel, I don’t know whether it started before me being chair, but we started talking about project grants – you know, small project grants to help specific kinds of things that other grants might not cover – and so that became a great interest of mine. But the panel was remarkably cordial, like Dumbarton Oaks itself, it had a great deal of decorum. We went through our agendas really quickly, we took breaks, there was a lot of side talk, about what this person or that person was doing. I don’t recall it ever being an onerous task, and I guess my effort was largely to make sure we covered all of the topics and everybody on the panel had an opportunity to say what they felt and to make sure we kind of stayed on schedule; you pack a lot into a day. And you know the panel meetings that were held at the same time as an autumn conference, well that was always fun, because you had the dinner with the people who came in for the conference, and before the conference, and met a lot of new folks. You’d also have a chance to really talk with the Fellows. It was neat.
BT: The application process, is that – when you would all get together in person, you would do it like that, was it just rifling through papers in a room?
DR: You’re talking about the reviewing of the proposed fellowships?
DR: You know, I’ve been on NSF and NEH panels and those are very different. I mean, in those panels you get all the proposals ahead of time and you have to write out your comments, your marks, your feelings, and those are submitted well before you meet, and then you meet, and it’s an all-day affair, just going through papers. I don’t remember it being that way at Dumbarton Oaks. I can assume, but I have no paper or memory to confirm it, I would assume that Elizabeth let us know ahead of time who was applying and we probably received the applications, although I honestly don’t remember – I’m assuming. And when we got together to talk we not only talked about individual fellowship proposals in terms of the quote unquote “importance” of the work, whether or not Dumbarton Oaks funding a fellowship would have an impact on a particular project that was of a broader interest than just the individuals’ book or dissertation, but we also talked about the mix of Fellows at Dumbarton Oaks. We wanted not just to have a representative of each culture or area or anything like that, but we wanted people who looked like they would thrive in the environment and benefit from the other people there. Each fellowship application on its own meant something, most certainly, but in the context of all the others, what kind of group we would get together, was important. I used to say, “Do people do lunch well?” When they got together were they just going to sit silently and not say anything, or do they have interests that were sufficiently broad or in concert with the others where lunchtime was an activity that was fun. Or being a Fellow, that there was some synergy between the individuals, and also during that time we wanted to make a strong effort to start bringing Latin American scholars into the mix, increasingly, and it didn’t start with me, but we certainly paid a lot of attention to that. So, that didn’t really answer your question, but that’s pretty much what I remember about the process.
BT: No, that’s enlightening, because Dumbarton Oaks as an institution has tended to go through periods when it’s more insular, when it’s kind of opening up to other things, and it sounds like you described a period when there was an attempt at grabbing more diversity. I was wondering – for example, the Senior Fellows, at that time nobody that was a Senior Fellow had been a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, a Junior Fellow before, and I think Richard Townsend might have been one of the first ones. Could you comment upon the desirability of that, having people who had been more involved in the past with Dumbarton Oaks?
DR: You know I don’t recall that ever being a topic. You’re correct, I don’t recall anybody, except maybe Richard, and actually he was involved in some other things at Dumbarton Oaks after I was on the panel. But whether someone had a strong connection with Dumbarton Oaks prior to the time they became a Fellow didn’t really seem an issue, except in the sense that people already knew who that person was, and what they were going to do, what they would propose to do. There was going to be a predictable outcome, that is. Whether Dumbarton Oaks was insular or not, we, the panel, always reflected archaeology and art historians, and we tried to find – just as the panel represented common ground – we tried to find common ground in the mix of the Fellows who might be archaeologists versus those who were art historians, and we also didn’t want to get into either site-specific topics for the conferences, or the quote unquote “new archaeology” at that time, where you debate what we were supposed to be doing in the first place and how we were going to do it. Dumbarton Oaks was not the place for that; that was not what we were all about. Studies were much more substantive, as opposed to theoretical or methodological. We didn’t track or move to try to bring in theoretical topics, and so, yeah, in a sense “insular” might be a good word. But it was productive. It had a course and it had a mission, and we tried to stay close to that.
BT: You mentioned the – obviously archaeologists and art historians – was there a similar divide between Mesoamerican and South American interests?
DR: Um – no. Not on the panel. Not that I recall. I mean, South American colleagues that I remember, Mike Moseley was certainly one, and he was at the Field Museum then, when I was at the University of Chicago, and part of my time at Dumbarton Oaks I was either in Chicago, and then the latter few years I was at the University of Virginia, but I already knew Michael. I had been an adjunct at the Field Museum, and I actually worked in South America under his auspices for a while, but he and John Rowe and – I don’t recall if we had another Peruvianist or not, I’d have to think about it, maybe Heather Lechtman came on a little later. But they were pretty ecumenical, you know, we talked about – somebody made a proposal for something going on in South America, and I didn’t know anything about it, the other panel members who weren’t Andeanists didn’t know anything about it, and we relied on them to say whether the situation was right for that particular kind of study, whether it would be valuable to the field. But there wasn’t any combativeness in that sense, because we were looking for a mix. I mean, we didn’t want to have – I don’t recall us wanting to have all Mesoamericanists as Fellows one year, or whatever, or necessarily that all the Fellows should be either archaeologists or art historians. I think I was lucky that way, in the sense of whom my colleagues were. I don’t remember anything like that.
BT: Well, just to shift directions a little bit, but obviously the symposia are very important, and as a Senior Fellow, you have a say in deciding topics and things like that. In particular, could you talk a little about the Latin American Horizons, which I guess you lead or organized?
DR: Yeah, well, that was a conference – Gordon Willey published a great deal on the great horizons and talk about civilization, and I think the Latin American Horizons volume was a topic that he probably proposed, with the benefit of hindsight. Quite frankly, it was a session that he should have chaired, but he didn’t. He suggested I do it. This was at a time when Gordon was also working in, or a participant in, various symposia at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, and there was a Maya Settlement Pattern volume which he should have chaired as well, but he picked a young scholar, Wendy Ashmore, to take the lead on that, to her benefit and I think to the benefit of the volume, because then he could just do his great synthesis discussion. And I wish he had been part of that Latin American Horizons group, if not having led it; I wish he would have been willing to participate, but he wasn’t. He said, “You take it.” So, it was relatively easy to organize. I mean, there were questions about are there really horizons in some places, like the Maya area, and who should represent these various areas, and most of the people who were selected were already known to me, certainly known to the panel members. I went outside the group of people who kind of were familiar with Dumbarton Oaks, in the sense that I picked a different person to do the Inca than John Rowe, and I picked a different person to do the middle horizon than a couple people who had been Fellows at Dumbarton Oaks. Benefit of hindsight, again, that probably wasn’t the best idea, not because they didn’t do a very good job, but I caught some flak from John Rowe and from William Isbell for not including them. But, you know, that’s the way life is. It was, I thought, a good session – not everybody did – but I don’t think I brought a great deal personally to it that was insightful or new. Gordon, who had been thinking about these kinds of things for a long, long time, relative to a relatively new scholar, would have done much more with it, and I’m sorry for that.
BT: As the organizer of the symposium, you were in charge of gathering it together for publication. Could you talk a little bit about that process? Because the symposium was I believe 1986, and the volume wasn’t published until the early ’90s.
DR: Right. Before I answer that, let me say something again about the conferences, at least the time I was on the panel. It was six years. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but the panel would select an individual to be the chair of the conference, and it wasn’t necessarily somebody on the panel. I happened to be on the panel for the Horizons one, but we talk about kinds of topics that might be fruitful and might be engaging, and then we say, “Well, who can do this well?” In other words, we weren’t taking applications from people to do the conferences. That may have changed, but conferences done during the time I was on the panel we usually picked the individual and then gave them their lead to pick the individuals they wished to have, and also to take the lead in publication of the volume, which gets me back to your question. The conference was done in ’86, and I, during that period, was in a transition between the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia. I moved to Virginia, I actually was working with Virginia, knew more about Virginia, or was participating in some of their activities, before I actually moved there. But that move was disruptive to me, personally, and it was also a time when I was moving from largely work in the Maya area to work in the Andes, trying to get a grasp of a three-year field project that I had had with – under Moseley’s auspices, a project that I had with Geoffrey Conrad, and we had NSF funding. So, I had a lot on my plate, and I’m going to admit that I’m not a great manager of time, at least then, it was hard for me to do three or four things at once, and so there was a delay on the volume, one because the papers were slow coming in, most of the people who were in the conference had projects of their own and other things they were doing. And I wanted them to keep in mind when they did their presentation then and when they did their papers, the theme of the topic, the theme of the conference, which was horizons, and what they meant, and what do we imply when we talk about horizonal features. And so, the papers took time, and then I was very slow to edit them. In fact, to be honest, I owe a great debt of gratitude to Elizabeth Boone, because she did keep me on track. That’s the only way I can put it. So yes, the delay was due to multiple factors, but part of it was my fault.
BT: Mhm. Yeah, that’s – sorry if that came out like asking for reasons for the delay, I was mostly just interested in the process of publication –
DR: Oh no, no, no. It’s something I’ve thought about and that’s because I was going to have a phone call with you. I’m retired, and the last twenty years of my career I was an administrator, I wasn’t really – I hadn’t been in the field very much, although my wife and I continue to publish together. You know, it’s one of these situations when you look back at things, you realize, “God, I could have done that so much better, now that I know what I know.” I could have, in the case of the Horizons volume, I could have managed that much better, now that I know that I had to manage things that are even bigger, with greater implications for faculty and staff. But you know the process itself was relatively easy, when you selected people to be participants in the conference you selected people who not only knew what they were talking about and had thought about these topics, but also people who have a track record. And so it was rare for a conference to have somebody who was a totally, you know, off-the-wall or an unknown individual in terms of, are they going to produce, are they going to give us the papers. But after the conference was over, I communicated with the participants, and made sure that they knew what we wanted in terms of the chapters and how long the papers should be approximately, and how many illustrations and yadda, yadda, yadda – and I think Elizabeth was the guiding force in that for me, but I contributed my two cents as the editor and I was the one who communicated with the participants. And then as papers came in I read them, Elizabeth read them. Elizabeth really, I think probably singlehandedly, copyedited the whole volume, because when I read, I read for substance and other kinds of things. So, you know, we probably should have coedited it, but anyway, that’s how it went.
BT: Talking about Elizabeth Boone, who I guess would have been Director of Studies the entire time you were there, could you talk about her as an individual, as a person, the way she managed Pre-Columbian Studies? Because I saw from your letters, there’s a lot of friendly correspondence.
DR: Elizabeth was the only permanent director that I interacted with. There was a year I think she took a sabbatical and Janet Berlo was in for a while, and Janet was also very nice. I liked Janet a great deal. Elizabeth and I became friends and I enjoyed her company, and she certainly was not a heavy-handed manager of the Pre-Columbian Studies program. She, I think, had cordial relationships with – I can’t think of any instances where they weren’t – with everybody who was there at Dumbarton Oaks and with people on the panel. She was a very gracious hostess when we had the conferences and the dinners and so on, and she was a good scholar – she is a good scholar, I shouldn’t speak in the past tense, because I’m sure she hasn’t retired yet, although she probably deserves it. And she knew, because she was interacting with people from all kinds of fields and interacting with people from all kinds of culture areas, she had an ability to, and has an ability to ask important questions of data and purpose and style, the kind of maturity that came with having experiences in lots of different cultures and lots of different formats, and so I can only say good things about Elizabeth. Again, other than the conference and being on the panels we didn’t work together. But she was very, very good. I’m sitting here trying to think of who the Associate Director was, the Assistant Director, and I don’t know. I guess it was – was it Gordon McEwan?
BT: Gosh, it’s not coming to me.
DR: I don’t know whether I’m thinking of the last name of your current Director – I don’t think it was Jeff Quilter, because I think Jeff Quilter followed Elizabeth. But anyway, she had a good relationship with that person, I think it was Gordon McEwan, but the staff was, kind of uniformly supportive, made it easy.
BT: Going back to symposia, obviously we talked about the Latin American Horizons. Were there other big symposia you knew about at the time, or ones you thought were particularly successful?
DR: Well, part of the problem is I don’t remember all the symposia. I have absolutely no paperwork from the days I was at Dumbarton Oaks. I think we did the Aztec Templo Mayor then. That one went very well, whether we did it during my panel experience, I thought that was really pretty good, also Michael Moseley chaired one, and I don’t remember if it happened, I think it happened during my panel period, and it was on the Chimor in South America, that was really focused and good. But Mike is very good at that. I think we tried to do one, I’m trying to remember. I’m remembering conversations and not necessarily the actual conference. I think we tried to do one at one point that bridged North and South America, that – oh, it had a title like, something in the intermediate area [“Wealth and Hierarchy in the Intermediate Area”], that I thought was important. I thought, to the degree there were the Mesoamericanists versus the South Americanists, I think that bridged an important gap. But other than that – there was a conference I participated in, but I think it may have been after I actually stepped down, and that was the one on the Mayan civilizations that Jerry Sabloff and I think John Henderson edited, and I have a paper and did a chapter for that one. But that probably postdates my period on the panel.
BT: That’s interesting, the conference that tried to bridge North and South America, and I’m wondering if maybe you could do a characterization of pre-Columbian studies as a whole at the time? If there were any particular movements towards bringing disparate areas together or –
DR: That’s an interesting question. And I’m wondering who on the panel – maybe I’m not remembering totally correctly, but I said that we used to pick people to organize the conference, there weren’t necessarily applications. I can’t remember who on the panel actually made the suggestion, “Well, why don’t we try to do something that bridges the areas,” and whether the genesis was ongoing conversation from one panel meeting to the next, or whether somebody had actually talked to somebody who said, “This would be a great conference and I’d like to do it.” But I think Fred Lange was the editor, I can’t remember though. And, with respect to Dumbarton Oaks, I, other than the ongoing recognition that we were on the panel as largely Mesoamericanists and South Americanists, I don’t remember there being a sense of a pressing need to do this, but we thought it was something that would be productive, and at that time, we knew very little about the area. The people who were working there were largely Lange and Payson Sheets, and one or two of – John Hoopes, one of Gordon’s students. There wasn’t a great deal of work there, but there was enough work to really make the conference seem, well, to not worry about whether or not it was going to be full or not, whether there was enough to talk about. And, in a sense, Dumbarton Oaks helped the field, because I think that brought a lot of people together who hadn’t been talking, and that was a good thing. I think that was an important conference to me, maybe it’s because I ended up working both in Mesoamerica and South America, I often wondered about what was going on in between, if that makes sense. And also, let me say this: I can’t remember when that conference was actually formed, or organized, and exactly when it was held, it’s probably after Gordon rotated off the panel, but I can remember one conversation in particular, during a panel meeting with Gordon talking about the area that spans Mesoamerica and South America, and it was actually a conversation when we were talking about horizons, what happens between these great civilizations, so that may have been the seed that was carried from one panel meeting to the next after Gordon stepped down. But he was right, you know.
BT: Dumbarton Oaks, as a center of pre-Columbian studies at the time – what do you consider were some of the biggest contributions it was able to make in that time period to that field of study?
DR: To what – the study of pre-Columbian? Well, I mean, what’s your field? I’m going to ask that.
BT: My field?
DR: What area do you work in?
BT: I’m actually an undergraduate in English right now.
DR: Really? [laughing] Interesting. Well, let me characterize Dumbarton Oaks this way, and it was certainly the way it was before I became a member of the panel and during, and to the degree I paid attention to what Dumbarton Oaks does, to the degree I paid attention to what Dumbarton Oaks did after I stepped down. Dumbarton Oaks is a really prestigious place, and I assume you know that. It’s a place where – well, ever since the conference was held there in 1944, you know about that, what was going on between nations, it’s been an important place for important and interesting things to happen, and quite prestigious. For me to be asked to be on the panel was not something I pushed to do, but it made a lot of difference in my career, and I think it made a lot of difference in the careers of people who are, or were, participants in the conferences. I can recall most recently as a few years before I retired, I was still telling people that when you look at a review, when you’re doing a review of somebody as in tenure promotion reviews, which, I would see sixty or seventy of these things a year, but you look for prestigious marks, prestigious in the sense that something this person has done shows that they have very, very positive peer review, and their colleagues, not necessarily colleagues in the same institution, but their academic colleagues think they have important things to say, and that they’re doing really interesting work. And having a Dumbarton Oaks fellowship, whether a Junior Fellowship or being a participant in the conferences, or being on the Senior Panel – that’s prestigious, and for folks who happen to be a Middle American archaeologist or South American archaeologist and you’re going through the vita and you look and say all of a sudden, “Well, you know, they’ve been a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks,” or, “They participated in this and that other conference at Dumbarton Oaks,” that’s a tremendous positive peer review. And I can only assume, I haven’t been working in Middle America physically for a long time, although I continue to synthesize data with my wife and publish with her, as I said, and I don’t travel very much anymore, so I haven’t been to Dumbarton Oaks in quite awhile, haven’t been invited back but I haven’t been there either for conferences or the like. But Dumbarton Oaks still stands as a marker for someone who has made, has gotten peer review and is part of a cohort that is interacting, part of whether it’s an invisible college or whatever you want to call it, Dumbarton Oaks signifies that to me, anyway – that you have something to say, that you are a good scholar and considered productive and you will be. And so, I can’t even remember now what your question was, I got on a track. But that’s what I think of Dumbarton Oaks. And I think other people would agree.
BT: Yeah, I can’t remember what my question was now, but that was a fascinating little talk about prestige. The question – because obviously the Junior Fellowship, that’s kind of a jumping-off point that could be very wonderful for starting a career, but it’s interesting because I never thought of the Senior Fellows, and perhaps that’s just the name, you think of it is as older, already established scholars, but you’re saying it was a jumping-off point for you –
DR: I was young relative to my peers.
BT: That’s – and you were there for a while, so you saw more people come on. Was there a shift in the average age, during your tenure?
DR: You know, I think – I sound like an old fart – I think there was a shift not just, well, let me back up. When I was on the panel, there was – are you there?
BT: Yeah, you cut out for a moment but you’re back.
DR: Okay. When I was on the panel, I was part of a – I guess a relatively young group of people who were working in Middle America and South America. I mean, our seniors were the likes of Gordon Willey or John Rowe, and there weren’t a lot of us, initially. I can think of people in my cohort like John Henderson, like Wendy Ashmore, Jerry Sabloff is older than we are, Mike Moseley was older than we were, but – who else? Isbell was about the same age, and he was a Fellow. I mean, there were younger people who could be selected to be on the panel, but there weren’t a lot of them. And, I am now, kind of, in the senior cohort; it’s my students and actually some students of my students who are out there doing things, and there are a lot of them. The field of archaeology and, I think in art history maybe to a lesser degree, I’m not sure, have expanded tremendously because we are generating more and more students, so for me to be the youngest person on the panel, until perhaps Richard Townsend stepped on, didn’t strike me as odd. I was extremely excited and pleased, but it didn’t strike me as odd, and since then, particularly immediately after I stepped down, I kind of watched what Dumbarton Oaks was doing, I watched the panel, more and more people who were my age group came on, and then eventually their students have come on. And so I think it was a phenomenon, a growth in the disciplines, not necessarily something Dumbarton Oaks focused on, said, “Look, we’ll have to bring more people in, younger people,” or whatever. Does that make sense?
BT: Yeah, it does. It’s strange because Dumbarton Oaks, as I said, can be insular sometimes, and I know certainly in the very early days, the forties, fifties, sixties, there was almost this sort of nepotism – you would have a scholar, and his student would become a Junior Fellow and so on. It’s not extreme these days, but you know it is nice to have somebody at Dumbarton Oaks who can recommend you for a fellowship or something of the like. Could you talk about that, was that apparent – ?
DR: Well, Dumbarton Oaks is – it’s Harvard. When I was on the panel and afterwards there was no mistaking that, it’s Harvard, and you expected to have Harvard individuals on the panel. I think it was important to the institution. Gordon was there, and I think then Jerry came on, Moseley was a Harvard student, and then at the Field Museum, but he came on. There’s always been a Harvard connection, there always will be, and I don’t think, particularly because of the importance of the chair, which Gordon held and Bill Fash now holds, I don’t think there has ever been a misconception about there being people who will be Junior Fellows and perhaps senior Fellows who are coming from Harvard. When I was on the panel and we looked at Junior Fellow and senior Fellow applications or Summer Fellowship applications, a lot of them were coming from people who knew people who were on the panel, or knew Gordon or knew somebody else from Harvard, and knew about Dumbarton Oaks. That’s the thing, when I was on the panel, it was insular in the sense that not a lot of folks out there in our disciplines knew that there were fellowships available, and so the time I was there and certainly after, there were more and more people aware of the opportunity to spend a year, a summer, and in particular they became aware of the fellowships for juniors, the opportunity to complete their dissertations. Again, I kind of forgot your question.
BT: No, that was interesting. My question was about, not exactly nepotism, but obviously Senior Fellows, their students become Junior Fellows, that kind of follow-through. I’m wondering if during the application process, and say one of the Senior Fellows, their student pops up as an application – was there a mechanism to recuse, were there things they couldn’t do with that application?
DR: That’s an interesting question. That is a very interesting question, and you know I don’t quite know the answer to that. I don’t recall, and I’d have to look back at the lists, and I don’t have the lists to look back at, whether or not we actually appointed Junior Fellows who happened to be – oh, I take that back, there were some Junior Fellows at Dumbarton Oaks who were students of John Rowe, and John used the opportunity of the panels to not only speak with us and do the work of Dumbarton Oaks but also as an opportunity to visit with his students, and I think that may have been the only case in which we had Junior Fellows who had some kind of academic connection to the Senior panel members. Certainly when you went through proposals you’d talk about who you might bring in, as Junior Fellows. You wanted a sense of predictability – that may not be the right word. You want a sense that this person is well-supervised, well-advised, very smart, knows where they are in the field, knows what they’re doing, and can get the job done. They not only have to do lunch well, as I said, but you need some predictability in that whole process, and the same thing happens when you pick a senior Fellow who’s coming for a year or even for part of a summer – are they an established scholar? Established in the sense that they produce, that they’re not just going to come in, spend a year enjoying Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and go and never be heard from again. So, it wasn’t a great deal of nepotism, reflected in the relationship between the panel members and the Junior Fellows at the time.
BT: You mentioned Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard have that connection, and Gordon Willey would have students or so on – but I’m wondering if you could characterize the relationship between Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard at the time you were there, because through Dumbarton Oaks’ history sometimes it has been shakier, sometimes more friendly –
DR: Well, you’ve already acknowledged that Gordon Willey was a force of considerable magnitude, and you know he represented Harvard, and we all knew that also whoever was Director of Dumbarton Oaks as a whole, not just the pre-Columbian program, was going to come from Harvard. And so there was a lot of conversation about, well, what’s Harvard doing, who’s out there, not only in pre-Columbian but also in studies in the middle east or wherever, and who potentially might come in as Director of Harvard. It wasn’t an antagonistic relationship, and I think part of the reason it wasn’t is that Gordon was such a strong personality, a tremendous gentleman, who really represented the field, not just Harvard. And that was important. So, when I was on the panel, there wasn’t a great deal of antagonism. There wasn’t any at all that I can think of, and when Gordon stepped down, like I say, you know Mike Moseley was there, and he was a Harvard product, and Jerry Sabloff, who had built quite a reputation when he came on the panel, was just – it seemed like absolute continuity, with Gordon stepping down and Jerry coming on. The other Harvard person who was on the panel when I was there was Lamberg-Karlovsky, and I was kind of afraid of him. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a picture of Lamberg-Karlovsky, but he’s this big guy who looks like he’d star in a Dracula movie. I didn’t know him very well and I don’t recall him interacting with the panel as much as other panel members did. He certainly had opinions about fellowships and so on but he just – the force of personality wasn’t there, whereas with Gordon and then with Jerry, there was a sense of continuity and a sense of, “Okay, I’m Harvard, but I’m more than that; I’m an academic, I’m a scholar, and this is why I’m here.”
BT: Well, I believe those are all the questions we’d prepared. Is there anything else you’d like to add, a particular memory or closing statement or anything like that?
DR: No, there’s really not. I feel like I’m doing a promo for Dumbarton Oaks; I’ve painted a picture where nothing’s wrong, everybody’s friendly and everybody gets along and so on and so forth. I think at the time that I was on the panel I was very, very fortunate. There was a generational divide, but the people who were my seniors on the panel were extremely nice, and they didn’t have particularly theoretical viewpoints that they wanted to hit somebody over the head with. Again, they had opinions, and they practiced their art history or their archaeology in a particular way, but they – to the degree that they might not do something in the same way that someone else would do something, it was not a terribly great concern. I was very lucky. And I can’t say that I know anything about the panels that followed. I know some of the people that were on them in the immediate five or eight years after I stepped down, but then I became a provost and vice chancellor and I rarely thought about archaeology or art history or anything else. I had other things to do, and so I’ve lost track of Dumbarton Oaks. I had a phone call, I don’t know, maybe it was a year or so ago, maybe longer, from someone who was doing the very thing you’re doing. They were a research assistant who was working with the archives, and I was asked if I would like to be interviewed, and I said yes, and I had to go to Washington a couple times for NSF meetings, and we never were able to connect, and the phone call connection didn’t really work. Then I finally said, “Look, I really don’t know enough about Dumbarton Oaks, I don’t remember very much about it.” I didn’t pursue it any further, and then when you called, maybe it’s because I’m retired and I’m reflecting upon my mortality [laughing], but it seemed important to talk about Dumbarton Oaks. I’m glad I did.
BT: Like I said, that’s all we have, but thank you so much, Mr. Rice, for your time. And you did remember quite a lot as it turns out.
DR: [laughing] Well, you know, since your phone call, I don’t have any paperwork, like I say, from Dumbarton Oaks, and I don’t even have a picture of the panel people, although a number were taken. So, I have been kind of rehearsing in my mind how I got there, and who was there, and trying to remember maybe some of the conferences we had. It hasn’t been easy, but as we’ve talked, I get these pictures and I get these glimpses of things that were going on, and it’s been fun. I appreciate it, thank you.
BT: No problem. We’ll keep you updated on when we get this transcribed and everything.
DR: Okay, good luck with that, given I rambled [laughing]. Thank you very much.
BT: Thank you.