Timeline

1800s

1871 Thomas Whittemore is born in Cambridgeport, MA, on January 2, 1871.

1889 Whittemore begins his undergraduate studies at Tufts College.

1894 Whittemore graduates from Tufts College with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. The College appoints him as an Instructor of English, a position he holds until 1899.

1895 Whittemore enters Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he likely takes courses in and develops a passion for the Fine Arts. However, he does not obtain a graduate degree. Additionally, Tufts renews his contract and gives him “charge of more than one half of the work in Rhetoric and Composition.”

1898 Whittemore is promoted to Assistant Professor of English at Tufts College and is given charge of “all required Composition.”

1899 Whittemore introduces a Fine Arts course focusing on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into the Tufts curriculum. While still primarily affiliated with the English department, Whittemore is also named “Instructor in the History of Art.”

1900s

1900 Whittemore develops another survey course on the art of ancient Greece and Egypt.

1904 Whittemore is promoted to Professor of English at Tufts College, a position he holds until 1911.

1908 After being granted a leave of absence from Tufts, Whittemore travels to Paris in order to study architecture at the Sorbonne. In the summer of 1908, Whittemore serves as an instructor at Columbia University, lecturing on ancient Greek and Egyptian history, art, and architecture before setting sail for Europe.

1910s

1911 In January 1911, Whittemore is appointed the American representative at excavations conducted by the British-run Egypt Exploration Society (formerly known as the Egypt Exploration Fund). He joins the excavation team at Abydos and works under field director Edouard Naville. He spends the majority of his time in Egypt until December 1911.

1912 Whittemore officially resigns from Tufts in order to devote himself more fully to his archaeological pursuits. He also makes his first trip to Bulgaria to conduct “archaeological studies.” In November 1912, he again travels to Abydos, Egypt, where he participates in excavations throughout the 1912–13 season.

1914 Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Whittemore spends his time in Europe, particularly Paris, where he coordinates a program aiding Russian boys. He also spends time at Sawama and Balabish (sites near Abydos, Egypt), where he helps coordinate independent excavation projects. By the end of the year, Whittemore is working with the Red Cross in France.

1915 Beginning in January 1915, Whittemore dedicates himself to the Army Medical Service in France. He also continues excavations at Balabish during the spring of 1915. In November 1915, Whittemore joins Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna’s war relief efforts at Petrograd (modern-day St. Petersburg).

1916 Whittemore creates the Committee for the Relief of Refugees in Russia. Mrs. Elizabeth Carrington Read Cram, wife of architect Ralph Adams Cram, is named president, and the American Red Cross recognizes the new relief organization.

1919 The “Committee for the Russian Refugees” is renamed the “Committee for the Rescue and Education of Russian Children.”  Soon thereafter, it acquires its final name, the “Committee for the Education of Russian Youth in Exile.” During this time, Whittemore also travels to Turkey to aid the significant number of Russian refugees living there. Whittemore meets Boris N. Ermoloff in Istanbul (also known as Constantinople) while attempting to deliver clothing and foodstuffs to the refugees.

1920s

1920 Whittemore continues his relief work in Turkey, focusing his efforts on “the uprooted youngsters taken from schools and universities or who joined freely the anti-red ranks.” He creates a committee based in Istanbul that selects promising young refugees to be sent to universities in Europe and the Near East. In September 1920, Whittemore may provide financial and administrative support for early archaeological endeavors by Ivan Velkoff and André Grabar at the Messemvria Basilica in Bulgaria.

1923 On May 26, 1923, Whittemore and George D. Pratt travel to Mount Athos, Greece, in order to deliver food and supplies to Russian and Bulgarian monks who were in need following the Russian Revolution. Between November and December 1923, Whittemore assists the Egypt Exploration Society with excavations at Amarna. At this time, the Society is working to unearth the Main Town Site and the North Palace.

1924 In December 1924, Whittemore once again joins the Egypt Exploration Society excavation team at Amarna. Following the sudden death of field director F. G. Newton, Whittemore becomes acting field director and oversees the completion of Newton’s final project, the excavation of the North Palace.

1927 Whittemore returns to the realm of academia for a short time after being invited to lecture on Byzantine art at New York University (NYU). He was soon promoted to Assistant Professor, a position he held until 1930.

1930s

1930 Whittemore founds the Byzantine Institute.

1931 On March 2, 1931, The New York Times announces that the Byzantine Institute, directed by Thomas Whittemore, had just concluded its study of the Monasteries of Saints Anthony and Paul along the Red Sea. During this period, Whittemore may have also visited the White Monastery in Sohag, Egypt, after his trip from the Red Sea Monasteries.