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Who's Who in ICFA Collections

Learn about the main protagonists in ICFA's archival collections. This page includes links to related resources for each individual or organization.

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Margaret A. Alexander

Margaret Alexander portraitMargaret Eloise Ames Alexander (1916-1996) specialized in late antique mosaics of Tunisia. She received her PhD in 1958 from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. She was a junior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks from 1942-1945. From 1967 to 1996, in collaboration with Mongi Ennaifer, she co-directed the Tunisian-American project Corpus of the Mosaics of Tunisia, which was supported in part by Dumbarton Oaks. She excavated at major sites in Tunisia, including  Carthage, Dermesh, El Jem, Thuburbo Majus, and Utica. The first fascicle of the Corpus des mosaïques de Tunisie appeared in 1973 and the final volume under her direction was published posthumously in 1999. ICFA holds a collection of Margaret Alexander’s research notes, field books, drawings, correspondence, budget reports, negatives, slides, and photographic prints.

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Nicholas V. Artamonoff

Nicholas Artamonoff in the Robert College yearbook, 1930Nicholas Victor Artamonoff (1908-1989) was an electrical engineer who lived in Istanbul, Turkey from 1922 until the late 1940s. He took photographs documenting life in Istanbul and other sites in Turkey from 1935 to 1945. He also photographed archeological sites in western Turkey, such as Ephesus, Hierapolis, Laodicea on the Lycus, Pergamum, and Priene. Artamonoff studied and worked at Robert College in Istanbul, before moving to the United States in 1949, where he worked for the federal government. The collection in ICFA contains 542 black and white photographs, which are also available in an online exhibit. Additional photographs documenting Ottoman sites in Istanbul, as well as daily life in the city, may be found in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, as part of the Myron Bement Smith Collection.

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Hans Belting

Hans Belting at the 1990 Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies SymposiumHans Belting was born in Germany in 1935 and studied at the universities of Mainz and Rome. Trained as a historian of Medieval and Renaissance art, Belting has also written widely on contemporary art and image theory. He was a professor at universities in Hamburg, Heidelberg, Munich, and Kalrsruhe. He was a Visiting Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks four times in the 1960s and 1970s, and a Senior Fellow in the 1980s. ICFA holds a small collection of photographs of manuscript illuminations and late Byzantine manuscripts, as well as a selection of related research notes and correspondence.

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The Byzantine Institute, Inc.

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Thomas Whittemore (bottom left) observes conservation workers on scaffolding in Hagia Sophia, 1935.

Thomas Whittemore, educator, amateur archaeologist, humanitarian relief worker, and globetrotting socialite, founded the Byzantine Institute in 1930. The Institute’s mission was to conserve, restore, study, and document Byzantine monuments, sites, architecture, and arts in the former Byzantine Empire. Beginning with the examination of the wall paintings at the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, the Institute then undertook the conservation and restoration of the mosaics in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, as well as at neighboring Kariye Camii. ICFA holds the records of the work of the Byzantine Institute, including fieldwork notebooks, photographs, drawings, correspondence, moving images, and other administrative and financial records.

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Sirarpie Der Nersessian

Sirarpie Der Nersessian at the 1954 Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies SymposiumSirarpie Der Nersessian (1896-1989) was a scholar of Byzantine and Armenian art who was born in Istanbul and moved to the United States in the 1930s. She served as the director of the Wellesley College Art Museum before embarking on a nearly twenty year career at Dumbarton Oaks, where she held positions as a Fellow in the 1940s, Acting Director of Studies in 1954 and 1961, Professor of Art and Archaeology at Harvard University in 1954, and Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology until 1963. ICFA holds a small collection documenting Der Nersessian’s professional life and research conducted at Dumbarton Oaks, including correspondence, lists of projects, and photographs and negatives of Armenian manuscripts.

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Josephine M. Harris

Josephine Harris portraitJosephine Marie Harris (1911-1992) was an archaeologist and art historian who specialized in Coptic sculpture. She received her PhD in Latin and Greek from Washington University in St. Louis. Harris was a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks in the 1940s. ICFA holds a collection of Josephine Harris’ documentation of Coptic sculpture from Oxyrhynchos, Egypt, including notes, drafts, correspondence, photographs, and negatives.

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Nathalie Scheffer

Image of Umilenie Madonna and Child from the Nathalie P. Scheffer collectionNathalie P. Scheffer (1889-1981) was born in Russia and later moved to Washington, D.C. Specializing in Russian icons and ecclesiastical art, she served as the head of the Slavic Division of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection from 1945 until 1965. ICFA holds a collection of Scheffer’s research notes about Russian art and iconography, including an index of iconographic types of the Virgin and correspondence on Russian icons and artifact evaluations.

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Paul A. Underwood

Paul Underwood at the 1960 Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies SymposiumPaul Atkins Underwood (1902-1968) graduated from Princeton University and taught at Cornell University before becoming a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. He subsequently assumed the position of Assistant Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology at Dumbarton Oaks in 1946, becoming an Associate Professor in 1951, and Full Professor in 1960. Underwood also served as the Field Director of the Byzantine Institute from 1950 to 1961. ICFA holds a collection documenting Underwood’s work as a Junior Fellow in the 1940s, including research notes, papers, drafts, bibliographies, and photographs, as well as his work with Albert Mathias Friend on the Church of the Holy Apostles.

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Robert L. Van Nice

Robert Van Nice at work, ca. 1960s.Robert Lawrence Van Nice (1910-1994) was born in Portland, Oregon, and received a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He worked at Dumbarton Oaks from 1955 until the 1980s. From 1937 to 1985, Van Nice conducted a large scale architectural survey of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The survey was sponsored by both William Emerson, Dean Emeritus of the School of Architecture at MIT, and Dumbarton Oaks. Van Nice and his assistants produced detailed architectural plates from their fieldwork, publishing them in two installments entitled Saint Sophia in Istanbul: An Architectural Survey in 1965 and 1986. ICFA has a collection of Van Nice’s papers and the fieldwork materials he produced while conducting the survey of Hagia Sophia.

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Thomas Whittemore

Studio portrait of Thomas Whittemore by Maurice SeymourThomas Whittemore (1871-1950) was born in Massachusetts, attended Tufts College, and was hired to teach English there after graduating. He taught intermittently at Tufts, Columbia University, and New York University, directing plays and teaching English and Fine Arts. He became interested in archaeology and assisted with expeditions sponsored by the Egypt Exploration Society from the 1910s to 1930s. He also did much humanitarian work in Russia in the 1910s, and his experiences with both relief work and archaeology in Egypt and Bulgaria led to his creation of the Byzantine Institute in 1930. ICFA has a collection of Whittemore’s papers related to his teaching career, correspondence, and personal photographs, as well as a collection of correspondence, fieldwork reports, photographs, drawings, and research notes related to Whittemore’s early archaeological activities. ICFA is also the repository for the records of the Byzantine Institute.

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