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Alice-Mary Talbot

Oral History Interview with Alice-Mary Talbot, undertaken by Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent at the Dumbarton Oaks Guest House (Fellows Building) on August 5, 2009. At Dumbarton Oaks, Alice-Mary Talbot was a Junior Fellow of Byzantine Studies (1966–1968), a Senior Fellow of Byzantine Studies (1978–1983), an Associate for Academic Affairs, Center for Byzantine Studies (1978–1980), a Byzantine Studies Visiting Senior Research Associate (1991–1992), the Advisor for the Hagiography Project (1992–1996), the Advisor for the Hagiography Project and Advisor for Byzantine Publications (1996–1997), the Director of Byzantine Studies (1997–2009), and a Senior Fellow (ex-officio) of Byzantine Studies (1997–2008).

JNSL: Good afternoon.

AMT: Good afternoon, Jeanne-Nicole.

JNSL: Today is August 5, 2009. My name is Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent and I have the honor today of interviewing Dr. Alice-Mary Talbot. Thank you for coming.

AMT: It’s a pleasure to be with you today.

JNSL: I would like to begin with the beginning and if you will think back to the first time you heard about Dumbarton Oaks, how you came to come here in the beginning, and the circumstances of your first involvements as a young scholar.

AMT: That’s a very easy question for me to answer because I first heard about Dumbarton Oaks through my professor, Ihor Ševčenko. I was taking my very first course in Byzantine studies with him at Columbia University, which was a seminar on Byzantine epigraphy, a very strange way to begin the study of Byzantium, but that’s the course he was teaching that spring, and it was a very small seminar of four students, and in the springtime he invited three of the students to accompany him to Dumbarton Oaks for the annual spring symposium. And I still remember it was on Byzantium and the Arabs, a topic I knew nothing about. In those days you couldn’t just sign up for the Byzantine symposium, you had to receive an official invitation, and basically students were not encouraged to come, they had to be essentially invited and escorted by their professor. So, this was necessary in order for me to attend it, and it was a truly remarkable weekend. The weather was superb, I still remember the white azaleas in flower, the amazing buffet lunch that was served –  a whole salmon with scales of cucumber slices – and meeting so many people whose names I just knew from the bibliography. And the symposium itself was the first time I had ever attended any kind of scholarly symposium, so I think I would have been impressed by almost any such event. But obviously the Dumbarton Oaks symposium was of unusual quality and it was a truly thrilling experience and I think it did have a major impact on making me decide to become a Byzantinist.

JNSL: And so at that point you hadn’t even chosen your thesis topic yet.

AMT: At that point I was a first year graduate student and I was actually planning to concentrate in Ottoman history, so I was still very much searching for my field. But, as a result of beginning to study with Ševčenko, I decided to change my priorities and to make Ottoman history into my minor field and Byzantine studies into my major field.

JNSL: Was he a demanding supervisor?

AMT: Oh, extraordinary. He is certainly one of the most brilliant scholars I’ve ever met. His knowledge of foreign languages is unparalleled, and I remember at this first symposium sitting at a table with him and hearing him switch into at least six different languages during lunch. I was just astonished at his facility with modern European languages, and his knowledge of Greek was amazing. He had very high expectations of his students, and he had a rather unusual way of teaching, in that he was not very good at presenting introductory materials but he liked to plunge right into the middle of things with an actual text and then he would pretty much leave it to the students to develop their own bibliography and to figure out how to deal with it. When he taught paleography, for example, he just handed us a – in those days there weren’t even photocopies – it was something called a thermofax, of a text and essentially said start reading it, with absolutely no introduction to things like abbreviations or ligatures or whatever. But we supported each other, and he obviously would answer questions if you asked him. But he, I think – he was a much better teacher of very advanced students and would not have been successful with undergraduates. I don’t think he ever taught undergraduates as a matter of fact.

JNSL: And then you later came back as a Junior Fellow?

AMT: Yes, once I decided on my dissertation topic, which was to edit the letters of the patriarch Athanasios I, by that time Ševčenko had already sort of begun the process of leaving Columbia and taking a position as a permanent faculty member at Dumbarton Oaks. And so, it made a great deal of sense for me to be a Junior Fellow there because he had been away from Columbia for already one full year at that point, and so it gave me an opportunity to take advantage of Dumbarton Oaks and to be close to my mentor. So, it was a rather unusual situation in that my mentor was here, and I ended up staying two years, which was very common in the ‘60s. Most Junior Fellows, in fact, did have a renewal of their fellowships, and so I was here from 1966 to 1968.

JNSL: And that was – who was the director at that time?

AMT: Well, it was a time of transition. Ernst Kitzinger had stepped down as the Director of Byzantine Studies at the end of the spring of ‘66. And there, I think – I’m not sure there actually was a Director of Byzantine Studies when I first came. And then Ševčenko held the position, but only for three months and then they appointed Romilly Jenkins. I’m not quite sure of the chronology but, well, certainly when I was a Junior Fellow Romilly Jenkins became director, but he only lived for three more years, so that was a very short tenure. He died very suddenly of a heart attack.

JNSL: And Mr. Tyler was –

AMT: No, Jack Thacher was still the director, the original Director of Dumbarton Oaks. He was nearing the end of his tenure, he stepped down in 1969, I believe. I did get to know him a little bit because he was an art historian and since my husband was an art historian he was interested in getting to know us perhaps a little bit more than some of the other Fellows. And Mr. Thacher was very helpful to us. We were planning a trip to Europe and he helped us to gain entree to some private collections, which was wonderful, and just in general gave us advice on our travels in Europe, so we were grateful to him.

JNSL: And then – so Mrs. Bliss died in 1969, so you would have seen her.

AMT: Yes, I pretty much literally just saw her. She was very elderly by the time I came, not in good health. She would come to the symposia and sit in a huge sofa which was put at the front of the rows of chairs and would sit there during the symposium and listen to the papers, and then she came every Friday afternoon for tea, a rather formal tea which was served to the Fellows and she would pour for us. But she had very little interest in the Junior Fellows as far as I could tell, and she was more interested in chatting with the faculty members. So, I may have told her that I wanted a slice of lemon in my tea, but that was about the extent of my interaction with her. Still, I did have a chance to see her and to gain the impression of her as a true grand dame. We were, of course – we all were very aware of the role she played in the establishment of Dumbarton Oaks, and so we were – we felt that she was responsible, in a way, for our being there. So, we were very excited to have the opportunity at least to lay eyes on her as we were, but she never, by that time – she never entertained at her home. So, earlier Fellows did have a chance to go to her home in Georgetown and meet her more informally, but by the time I came it was sort of too late for that.

JNSL: Did you have further responsibilities as a Junior Fellow in addition to working on your project? Were there other things you were expected to do?

AMT: No, in the mid-’60s our only responsibility was to work on our dissertations, it was in the earlier period that you had assigned work projects.

JNSL: And did you interact closely as a group? Was there a lot of sort of social interaction or was –?

AMT: Well, I would say that the group of Junior Fellows was very close, there were seven of us, so it was a substantial number, in fact, we outnumbered the regular Fellows. And we all lived in the same apartment building up on Wisconsin Avenue at 2702, and we all sat in the reading room on the second floor, and we did develop very, very close friendships. I would say of the – during the two years I was there I developed really lasting friendships with three of my colleagues, George Majeska and Jaroslav Folda, who are – I still count among my very close friends today. And then Margaret English Frazer, who tragically died a number of years ago, and she developed early onset Alzheimer’s and it was a great tragedy, but she was a wonderful friend for a while at least. And we had, I would say, less contact with the older Fellows. And then there was the permanent faculty of whom there were about six – it was a very hierarchical arrangement then. You were very conscious of this strong difference between the faculty and then the regular Fellows and the Junior Fellows, and it was also a very small, relatively small group, because only Byzantinists, for example, went to lunch, and we all had lunch at the same time every weekday at – seated at a table, served by a waitress. So, it was very different from the quite informal come-when-you-want, serve-yourself, buffet style, sit-with-whomever-you-want that you have now. And then after lunch there would be coffee – was served in this room here with – usually one of the faculty members would pour, and we would try to have more general conversation. And Francis Dvornik never came to lunch because he had a weight problem and had to always watch very carefully what he ate, but he would always come for coffee because he enjoyed the company. And so, we always enjoyed when he would come and he would – he was very friendly with the Junior Fellows. And he actually made a point of inviting us to his home for a meal at some point during the year. In some ways, he was the most outgoing of all the faculty members, so – but I did certainly have a chance to get to know obviously Ševčenko, my own professor. Cyril Mango was there the entire time and had incredible respect for him; Paul Underwood who was working on Kariye Djami, and then Robert Van Nice, who technically was not a faculty member – he was more of a staff person – but he did come to lunch every day and he was working on the drawings of Hagia Sofia, and I did get to know him quite well and enjoyed him very much because he lived in Istanbul for many years and he was a great raconteur of stories of life in Istanbul and what it’s like to work in a great church like Hagia Sofia for many years. So, I did feel privileged to get to know these people, but it was a very, very different atmosphere from what it is today, and there were no Garden and Landscape or Pre-Columbian Fellows.

JNSL: None at all?

AMT: None at all, yeah.

JNSL: And you came back, then, in – did you continue to come to the symposia after you finished your Ph.D. and before you came back in –?

AMT: I came to some of them. We moved to Cleveland in 1968, and I finished my dissertation there and started teaching as an adjunct at various colleges. And I was not able to teach Byzantine studies – I was teaching mainly modern Middle Eastern history, and I began to feel that I was quite isolated from the field and I was not at all sure I could continue because there was no library in Cleveland and it was a very difficult time. But I did come back occasionally and I guess a very important event was the symposium of 1972 because this was a major departure in the tradition of symposia at Dumbarton Oaks. Because, up to that date and after that date, symposia, Byzantine symposia, were always on a theme and all the speakers were invited and it was usually only senior scholars in the field, and so there was no opportunity for junior scholars to participate in any way except as in the audience. And in 1972, I think through the wisdom of the Senior Fellows, they decided as a one-time innovation to invite mostly some recent Junior Fellows and recent post docs and also a few scholars who had not been at Dumbarton Oaks and were also recent post docs. And they invited about ten, eleven of us to give papers on our research at Dumbarton Oaks, and so that was a really very exciting opportunity, a bit terrifying, to be, to give – this was my first conference paper ever, and to give it in the Music Room at Dumbarton Oaks before a Dumbarton Oaks symposium audience was really quite intimidating, I can tell you. But it was a wonderful opportunity to meet sort of all my – a cohort of all of the young scholars, most of whom I knew but not all. I’d never met Tom Matthews, for example, or Angeliki Laiou before, and they were participating in that, and it also, I think, gave me encouragement to stay in the field – the fact that I was invited, and then was invited to publish my paper in the Dumbarton Oaks Papers. And that was my second publication, I guess, in the Dumbarton Oaks Papers, so that was really, it really gave me a boost when I really needed it.

JNSL: Then it wasn’t too long after that that you were part of the founding of the Byzantine Studies Conference.

AMT: Yes, and there’s a definite connection, I think. What happened was that this 1972 symposium was an absolute – like a lightning bolt for young Byzantinists, because I think up to that point we hadn’t – we just sort of accepted the fact that there was no possibility for Byzantinists to get together and give papers and talk to each other and meet each other, and when we had this symposium in 1972 with the young people giving papers, a lot of the younger people who were at that symposium said, we should do this every year. But we realized that Dumbarton Oaks was not going to do it every year, this was a one-time event, and the next year they went back to their normal routine. And so, that, I know, is what gave the impetus to a group of people to get together and decide we should start an annual conference. And I honestly don’t remember how I got so involved in it, I just don’t remember – it’s possible that Walter Kaegi would remember – all I know is that he and I ended up being the co-organizers of the first Byzantine Studies Conference and that, for reasons which I also don’t remember, I agreed to host it in Cleveland, which turned out to have been a foolhardy move because I had no real institutional affiliation as an adjunct. I had no university I could hold it at, so I had to go to the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, where my husband was a curator, and I essentially asked the director of the museum if he would be willing to host it, because the Cleveland Museum has one of the great collections of Byzantine art. And I obviously pointed that out, and he very graciously agreed to host it. I, looking back on it, I’m amazed that he agreed to do it, and I’m very grateful to him, and it was very difficult because I had absolutely no support in Cleveland to do it. So, I had to do virtually everything myself except that some women from the local Greek church did help me. But I had no students to – the place I was an adjunct was an hour from Cleveland – so, I had no students who could help, and fortunately these ladies from the Greek church agreed to do things like help set up the registration table. And they very kindly hosted a dinner for the participants. Anyway, we had said that if seventy-five people came we would think it was a great success, and to our amazement one hundred twenty people came, and that was the beginning. We then drew up a constitution, and it’s been going ever since. But I think it was founded in reaction to the symposia at Dumbarton Oaks as a place where it would be for – primarily for younger people, although obviously anyone was able to offer a paper – where you volunteered to give papers, there were no invitations, it was always a shoestring operation. Everyone paid his or her expenses for everything, and it was always intended to be as sort of informal and un-intimidating, in contrast to the Dumbarton Oaks symposium.

JNSL: And were there any, at that first conference, were there any Fellows or faculty members from D.O. who came over as a gesture of support for what you were doing or were they –?

AMT: I don’t think so, no. There might have been some Fellows, but certainly none of the faculty came. There were very few senior scholars, it was definitely a project of the younger generation, which it has continued to be, which I think is the way it should be.

JNSL: And looking at your work, how did you become interested in the history of women, how did you develop that focus of Byzantine women?

AMT: Well, it’s an interesting story, I think, actually. When I was working at Lake Erie College, which is another of the schools where I was an adjunct teacher. I started teaching there in 1970, if I remember correctly, and that was the era when women’s studies were just beginning, maybe more around ‘72-’73, and it was a women’s college. And so, I remember the dean calling me into his office and saying that we’re a women’s college and I think it really important that we start offering women’s studies here, which we never have, he said how would you like to teach a course in women’s studies. And I told him that I really didn’t feel comfortable with doing a course on the entire history of women in the world, and I’d never done any modern history, but that I would be happy to do a course on women in classical antiquity and the middle ages, and said that maybe someone else could do the Renaissance to the present. So, he was happy with that, and so I put together a course, I believe in the fall of 1973 for the first time. It was all completely new to me. I mean, obviously I’d never – this topic was not discussed when I was an undergraduate and in graduate school. And I was quite fascinated by the topic, and I only devoted one week to Byzantine studies, most of it was classical Greece and Rome and the western middle ages, because that’s where more secondary materials were available for the students. But when I was doing the preparation for the course I read a wonderful book by, dear me, now I’m going to go blank on the woman’s name, a very famous Oxford historian, on medieval nunneries in England, and I was absolutely fascinated by this book. It was maybe – very fat book – five hundred pages long, based on – I think it was mainly on sort of very late middle ages, based on episcopal visitation documents to women’s convents, and I just thought the material was fascinating. And I began thinking, I don’t know anything about nunneries in Byzantium, and this might be an interesting topic to research. So, I began to do research and to find the surviving typika – which survive, the six surviving typika – and at that point I really didn’t have any time to pursue the subject, but that’s what triggered my interest. And it was only in the early ‘80s with the typikon translation project, which I became involved in, that I then had the opportunity to follow through on that interest and to translate the six, and to really develop more detailed knowledge of the phenomenon. But it was definitely that course at Lake Erie that sparked my interest.

JNSL: And did you return often in the ‘70s to Dumbarton Oaks or were you more really out in Cleveland at that time?

AMT: I was very much based in Cleveland. I had two small children so it was difficult for me to travel very much, and I didn’t have very much connection with Dumbarton Oaks. I did publish my dissertation at Dumbarton Oaks, and so I did come back a few times in connection with preparing the final manuscript and checking proofs and that sort of thing. That book was published in ‘75, so I would come very occasionally, but I had pretty minimal contacts until 1978 until I came back as a staff member for two years.

JNSL: So, let’s move to that period.

AMT: Okay. What happened was that when Giles Constable became the Director of Dumbarton Oaks in 1976, he decided to abolish the position of Director of Byzantine Studies. It’s something I’ve never understood completely.  It was – whether it was a cost cutting move, whether it was because of supposed difficulty in identifying an appropriate candidate – I’ve never really understood why that decision was made; I think it was a very bad decision. In any case, Giles assumed the duties of the Director of Byzantine Studies, but he very quickly realized that it was very difficult for him to do both jobs, and so he and his successors, as Director at Dumbarton Oaks, had to make a series of accommodations over the years to try to get help in carrying out all the duties of the Director of Byzantine Studies. And so, the first such effort was hiring me on a half-time basis to help with organization of academic events. So I, for example, organized public lectures, and I organized the symposia, and I also helped with the publications program with reviewing manuscripts.

JNSL: What was your title?

AMT: I was called Associate for Academic Affairs, and then in later years – I only did it for two years because I had to commute and with my small children that turned out to be very difficult. In later years, at one point, there was a troika of very junior professors here including Henry Maguire, I think, and John Duffy and Irina Andreescu. And they divided up the duties of the Director of Studies among the three of them, but none of them held that title. They also hired a man called Peter Topping who was here for maybe ten years and he was responsible, completely responsible for publications and also was very involved in advising the library on acquisitions. So, there were a number of these what I would consider makeshift efforts to carry out the responsibilities of the position, but there was no single person who was really responsible, and I think that was very unfortunate. But I did myself have two wonderful years back here and they were absolutely key in enabling me to continue in the field because at that point, as you can see, I was teaching as an adjunct – I was teaching Middle Eastern history – I had had no library, and it was very difficult for me to continue as a Byzantinist – and being here in Washington on a regular basis meant that I could return to serious research. I began to work very seriously on my second book which was on the posthumous miracles of the patriarch Athanasios, and what I did was I would work during the day on the Byzantine studies job and then at night I would work on my book, and I was able to publish that in the early ‘80s. So, that was extremely important and it also meant that I began to get back into the field and to be able to network again and sort of catch up with what was going on. But having access to the library was just extraordinarily important.

JNSL: Who were some other Byzantinists who were there at that time?

AMT: Well, the most important figure was definitely Alexander Kazhdan, who arrived in February of 1979. So, that was the first year that I was in that position, and I, because of my position, Giles essentially asked me to help him with his, shall we say, his acclimation and adjustment, which was a very difficult one, to Dumbarton Oaks. His English was very poor, he had no familiarity with the American academic system. And he did need a lot of support, I think, in those early days, but for me it was an extraordinary privilege to get to know him. And it was the beginning of a very long and fruitful both friendship and collaboration. I, in that early period – my main collaboration with him was that we did teach a course together. He was very anxious to start teaching, even though his English was really not adequate to the task, and this was very unusual since Dumbarton Oaks is not a teaching institution and it’s not accredited, but we did work out an arrangement with local universities that they would send their students to Dumbarton Oaks and the universities would give the credit. But what happened was that Kazhdan organized this course, and then he informed me that he couldn’t be there for the first four weeks because he was going to be in Europe. So, he asked me if I could teach the first four weeks of it, which I think was a good thing, because I, being more familiar with the needs of American undergraduates was able to give a rather general introduction before he came and began giving much more sort of detailed presentations. Then he had some serious health problems at the end of the semester and – very serious health problems – and I had, in fact, to read all the students’ papers and do the grading, which I also think was a good idea because I think he actually wouldn’t have had any idea what the normal standards of American undergraduates are and it would have been difficult for him. And then the third thing I did was I took notes as he lectured and afterward we would go over all the mistakes he’d made in English and I tried to help him improve his English. So, I learned a lot from his lectures, and that was the genesis of the book he wrote with Giles Constable on, again I’m going blank, on the Homo Byzantinus, and I was fairly involved in editing the early drafts of that book. So, that was the beginning of our association. We, obviously – we were very complementary figures to each other and could help each other in various ways. And so, that I think led him to call upon me when he began to work on the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium.

JNSL: And before you began that project, you began your work on the typikon? Is that right – that was first?

AMT: Yes, I actually did all that work in Cleveland. Since it was a translation project, I was able to do it completely at home, which was wonderful, because all I needed was essentially the photocopies of the text and a dictionary. And then Angela Hero, who served as the editor, was in New York, and I would just mail my text to her and she would correct them. We did have, I believe, two meetings of all the translators in Washington where we all, at the early stages – where we got together and discussed guidelines for the project. And those were wonderful, wonderful meetings, too, to launch the project, but after that we all worked very much in isolation essentially, but in close contact with the two editors, John Thomas and Angela Hero.

JNSL: And then, am I correct, you started work on – as the director of the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium in 1984, is that right?

AMT: Correct, yes. What happened was that I went back to Cleveland essentially full time for four years and went back to the adjunct teaching, and worked on the typikon project and also finishing this book on the miracles of Athanasios. And I was increasingly unhappy with the adjunct teaching being underpaid and not being able to teach anything in Byzantine studies. And so, when Kazhdan approached me in the fall of 1983 – what had happened was he had always – for a long time – had a dream of doing what he called a dictionary of Byzantine studies, even in the Soviet Union. And when he came to Dumbarton Oaks he hoped that he could realize this dream. He had – he was not a very practical man – and he had very little concept of the amount of money it would take to do it, or the amount of organization it would take. And he also didn’t understand the ways in which funding agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities operate. And he assumed that all that needed to happen was for Giles Constable to phone the head of NEH and Dumbarton Oaks would be given the money. And so, before I got involved Kazhdan had actually submitted an application to NEH which was rejected because it was inadequate, and I think that was sort of the wake-up call for him. He realized that he just didn’t have sufficient familiarity with the American system of doing things and getting funding for projects. And so, he invited me to work with him, and I had almost no experience myself except that the typikon translation project had received NEH funding. I hadn’t been involved in that application, but I knew how it had happened, but I was very tempted because of my dissatisfaction with my teaching arrangements in Cleveland. But I did insist that I couldn’t commute on a weekly basis, and so we worked out an arrangement whereby I was hired on a half-time basis and I came one week a month to Dumbarton Oaks, funded by NEH, when we got the grant, and then I, in theory, worked one week a month at home on editing and doing my own research and writing. Of course it turned out to be much more than that, but at least it meant that I was only away from home one week a month and that proved to be a very manageable schedule which I continued for seven years. And so, we formed an editorial board of five, and with Kazhdan as editor-in-chief and I was the executive editor, and then Tony Cutler was the chief editor for art and Tim Gregory for archaeology, and originally Gary Vikan was sort of the assistant art editor. But at that year, in 1984, he was hired away from Dumbarton Oaks by the Walters, and they would not give him leave to work on the Dictionary, so he had to resign. And at that point, we decided to replace him with Nancy Ševčenko who was my former elementary and high school classmate and life-long friend. And so that proved to be a very good choice. She, like me, was working a lot sort of as an independent scholar, so she welcomed the opportunity to become involved in this project and did a superb job.

JNSL: You were aware when that began – or how long did it take for you to realize what would be required to complete a project like that? I just think it must have seemed like a tremendous undertaking.

AMT: It did. We actually did manage to complete it within the projected time, which I guess in hindsight is pretty extraordinary. I think we had projected seven years, and we actually submitted the manuscript after five years and it took two years to go through the press, but it was a tremendous job of coordination because of the very large number of contributors – I think it was one hundred seventeen contributors – and it would have been so much easier to do it today with email. But in those days we did everything by snail mail, and we had several contributors in Australia and it took three weeks for the mail in each direction. So I just – I often fantasize about what it would have been like to do that same project now. I bet we could have done it in maybe three or four years, certainly much, much less time.

JNSL: And at that time, then, was Angeliki Laiou, or was Thomson –

AMT: There were actually three directors at D.O. during the course of preparation of the ODB. Giles Constable was there at the beginning and was very, very helpful in getting, helping to arrange for the publication with Oxford University Press. He was very involved in those negotiations and actually signed the contract. He also did help a bit with the original planning process and initial contact with NEH although he didn’t have anything to do with the actual application. Then in the middle years Robert Thomson was there from, so let’s see, Constable left just as it started, but was very involved in getting it launched, then Thomson was there for the heart of the project, ‘84-’89, and he was a key author himself, he wrote all the entries on Georgia and Armenia, and was a model contributor. It was my great privilege to work very closely with him on editing his entries and it was so easy to work with him because he – everything was in such good shape the first time around. And he was very conscientious about meeting deadlines and very reasonable about doing revisions and it was just a great pleasure to work with him. And then Angeliki Laiou – by the time she came it was really at the very end, when we were sending it to press and reading the proofs. So she – she herself was on the advisory board, and did contribute some entries, but by the time she became Director, it was winding down, essentially, so she was not so involved with it.

JNSL: I’d like to ask you a question about the beginnings of your Greek reading group with the Fellows? Did that start under Kazhdan or were you the beginner of that?

AMT: I would say that it did begin under Kazhdan, although it was called a seminar then. He called it his weekly seminar, and he – since he was a full time researcher – he very much enjoyed having ways of interacting with the Fellows on a more sort of formalized basis, and very often volunteered to give courses of various sorts or to meet somewhat less formally with the Fellows. To tell the truth, during the ‘80s, I was so busy working on the Dictionary of Byzantium that I was not able to attend most of these sessions. I just felt I had – my time was so limited here that I couldn’t take the time off to do what would have been a great pleasure for me. But it wasn’t part of my job, so I actually did not attend any of his seminars in the ‘80s. I did attend in the ‘90s when he presented essentially his history of Byzantine literature as a series of, really, lectures over the course of a year. But in the ‘80s I just would hear about them from colleagues. I know he did, for example, a Psellos reading course, and he would pick texts and they would read with a group, but unfortunately I can’t tell you very much about it since I didn’t personally participate in that.

JNSL: In what year did you become a Senior Fellow?
AMT: I was appointed a Senior Fellow the year I became Associate for Academic Affairs, which was perhaps a little bit strange because I was a staff member and I was quite junior, but the director Giles Constable was for some reason very anxious that I be on the Board of Senior Fellows, and so he did appoint me and I stayed on for five years.

JNSL: And were the duties at that time similar to what they are today, I mean in terms of selecting people? What were your responsibilities?

AMT: Yes, it was primarily the selection of the Fellows and very much advising on academic policy and various types of problems which emerged. In those days, when Dumbarton Oaks was very involved – I’m talking now about the late ‘70s and very early ‘80s – Dumbarton Oaks was still involved, to a certain extent, in field work. It had actually – it wasn’t as much still actively engaged in field work but with the aftermath of these projects and ways of publishing them or dealing with the materials, and there were a lot of problems with various projects. Kalenderhane Djami, for example – there were grave difficulties in its publication – dissension and disagreement between the two chief editors, and great delays, and so the Senior Fellows spent a great deal of time trying to remedy that situation. There were also many difficulties with the San Marco project, which was more a project to photograph mosaics and publish them. That’s what I have, you know, very distinct memories of, spending a great deal of time on that kind of issue.

JNSL: And were there many women involved in the field when you first began? Or how has that changed through the year? You mentioned Angela Hero was also a student of Ševčenko.

AMT: For the M.A., she was a Meyendorff student, she went to Columbia for her M.A. and to Fordham for her Ph.D., but I first met her when we were in the same seminar at Columbia with Ševčenko. There were almost no senior women in the field when I was a graduate student and in my early years as a post doc researcher. Certainly Serarpie Der Nersessian, who had been the great exception, had retired by the time I came to Dumbarton Oaks, so I don’t think I ever actually met her. She was somewhat of a legend, but I never got to know her personally. She moved to Paris so she didn’t come back to Dumbarton Oaks after she retired. At the symposia, there were, at first, no women speakers, as is very readily apparent if you look at the photographs of the symposia of the ‘60s and ‘70s. And I know that we always were very conscious when a single woman would be invited to speak, and that was another way in which the 1972 symposium was so earthshaking, because when the young people were invited to speak, many women were included in that, so that was another sort of consciousness raising event. Now there were many junior women and we were very supportive of each other and I think most of us have done fairly well in the field, but we did not have many role models to follow. At Harvard as an undergraduate, I only had one female professor in four years and that was in astronomy. At Columbia, I had no female professors. I had one female instructor in Turkish. At Dumbarton Oaks, there were no female members of the faculty, so it was a very, very different situation.

JNSL: Did your work in the ‘70s and ‘80s – did you ever have opportunities to travel to Greece and Turkey through your connections with Dumbarton Oaks?

AMT: No, I had absolutely no opportunity to travel, except any just personal trips I arranged on my own. I, in fact, didn’t go to Greece I think for a period of, well, there were long gaps in my visits to Greece, unfortunately, and to Turkey.

JNSL: But Dumbarton Oaks always had a very international –

AMT: I certainly met people from all these countries, definitely, yes.

JNSL: And let’s move on to the beginnings of the Hagiography Database project, if you could remember. Was that an idea of Kazhdan’s originally?

AMT: It was, yes. Maybe I should backtrack to talk a little bit about my own emerging interest in hagiography, because this is a topic which I knew really almost nothing about as a graduate student. When I worked on my dissertation I did use two saints’ lives of the patriarch Athanasios as a major source, but I didn’t think of them as saints’ lives really, I thought of them more as historical sources, and I’d never read any other saints’ lives, believe it or not. So, I was not aware of how they were typical or atypical of the genre or anything like that. I had nothing to compare them with, and really a sort of a series of coincidences, I think, led me into the study of hagiography. The first and absolutely key event was while I was here at Dumbarton Oaks working on the letters of Athanasios. Ševčenko mentioned to me that in the microfilm collection was a manuscript from the Halki Library in Istanbul which included not the letters of Athanasios but it was devoted to the cult of the patriarch Athanasios, and he was aware that there was an unpublished text of the posthumous miracles of Athanasios, and he suggested that I look at this to help me with the biography of the saint which I would need to write for the dissertation. So I did find it and, you know, read enough to realize that it very important and interesting text. But I had little time to do anything with it because I had to focus on the letters for my dissertation. But after I finished the dissertation, I decided that I really wanted to work on this unpublished manuscript, again, not that, at that point, I was particularly interested in saints’ cults or thinking of it as hagiography, but because it was connected with Athanasios, and I was really interested in the afterlife of this historical figure whom I’d worked on so much. But as I worked on the text, which included the account of the translation of his relics and thirty-nine of his posthumous miracles, I became absolutely fascinated by the text itself, and this was the beginning of my very strong interest in healing shrines and the development of saints’ cults. But I still, I would say, was not reading more broadly in hagiography at that point. Then when Kazhdan came to Dumbarton Oaks I discovered that he had a very strong interest in hagiography and he had been extremely frustrated in the Soviet Union because this was a verboten topic, and he was unable to pursue research on it and he was only able to publish one article on the life of the patriarch Euthymius of Constantinople and he was able to get away with it because that particular text closely resembles a historical chronicle. And he called it the “Chronicle of Psamathia” instead of the “Life of the Patriarch Euthymius,” and titled his article something like “Two Tenth Century Chronicles.” And he got away with it because there was this woman who had to read everything he wrote and give the imprimatur before it could be published. But that was the only thing he could do, so when he came to the United States he felt this extraordinary sense of liberation that he could now read whatever he wanted and write on whatever he wanted and he set himself a regiment of reading the life of every saint before the tenth century and taking copious notes on these vitae on these little tiny cards about this big. And he was primarily interested in the information these texts revealed on realia and every day life, although he did read the texts extremely carefully and he noted down all kinds of information. And he was interested in the date of composition, and he was interested in the authors, and he had all kinds of interests. But his primary focus was on the information on everyday life, and he put together a work which is unpublished but available in the Dumbarton Oaks library which he called a bio-bibliography in which he assembled an account, an entry for each vita in which he wrote a brief – a paragraph on the saint, the author of the work, the date of composition, and then a complete bibliography. And it’s an extraordinarily piece of work. Someone someday should revise it, update it, and publish it, or do it on the website or something, because it’s still a very valuable piece of research. So, that’s one thing he did, but while he was doing this and writing many articles on the lives he read, he began to think about ways in which he could make what he called his little cards more widely available to Byzantinists. And he himself was not very comfortable with computers. He started using a computer as a word processor around maybe 1990, I would say, but he used it only as a word processor. And so he had to rely completely on others to understand how a relational database could be developed and disseminated.

JNSL: And I have one last followup question. Who else was involved in, who else worked on that project?

AMT: The two primary staff members were Alexander Alexakis and Lee Sherry. Lee worked for it for I believe five years, Alexander maybe for three years. And then we had three other sort of shorter term employees, Stephanos Efthymiadis, and Stamatina McGrath, and Beate Zielke, so there were six altogether who worked on it, and the project lasted, I believe, from 1991 to 1997.

JNSL: And so that was during Angeliki Laiou’s time as Director?

AMT: Yes, that’s right, and also while Henry Maguire was the new Director of Byzantine Studies.

JNSL: When was that position restored?

AMT: In 1991, yes.

JNSL: That must have been an exciting time.

AMT: It was indeed. What I am told had happened is that Robert Thomson, when he stepped down as Director of Dumbarton Oaks after only one five year term, and I am told that he strongly recommended that the position of Director of Byzantine Studies be reinstated, but then they hired Angeliki Laiou as the new Director. And since she was the most specifically byzantinist director that Dumbarton Oaks ever had, I think that perhaps some people thought well maybe it’s not necessary since she’s the director. But she herself came to realize fairly soon that she felt that the position should be reinstated, and so she hired – she came in 1989, and Henry Maguire started in 1991, and was here for one five year term. He was on leave from the University of Illinois and that’s all, that’s the maximum leave he could get.

JNSL: And you became Director of Byzantine Studies in 1997.

AMT: Correct.

JNSL: Can you maybe speak a little bit about that era?

AMT: Well, first of all, there was a transitional year that Henry left Dumbarton Oaks in 1996 and for again reasons that I do not understand, although it was well known that he would be leaving that year, no search was mounted for his replacement. And so Angeliki became the de facto Director of Byzantine Studies once again in ‘96-’97. But at that point I was working two thirds time, I think, for Dumbarton Oaks, at that point and she – or six tenths time, I can’t remember, something like that – and she asked me to take on all the responsibilities for publications and work full time at Dumbarton Oaks and move to Washington, and so my husband took early retirement from the Cleveland Museum of Art and we moved here in 1996, and so during that transitional year I did do all of the work that the Director of Byzantine Studies does in terms of publications, and Angeliki was involved with the primarily the organization of academic events – she retained those duties for herself. And then in the spring of that transitional year, there was a search and I was hired.

JNSL: Wonderful, and it must have been very, in a way, very relieving for you to finally be here permanently and not having to – commuting must have been very tiring.

AMT: Yes, over my career I did commute for fourteen years, so it was a very, very long time. But I was very fortunate that Dumbarton Oaks always permitted me to stay here in the Fellows Building and so that meant I didn’t have to get a separate apartment. And so, it was relatively easy to go back and forth, and although Ohio, for people in Washington – Ohio sounds like it’s very far away, but the plane trip is actually only one hour, so it’s no further than going to New York and there’s no time change. So, that meant it was doable, definitely, but yes, it was very nice not to have to commute any more, and to be here on a full time basis.

JNSL: How were your responsibilities articulated when you took up the position, or what were your main responsibilities at that time? That’s changed through the years.

AMT: Well, there was a major change in the organization of Dumbarton Oaks which occurred under Ned Keenan. I became Director of Studies in 1997, and Angeliki left one year later, and then Ned Keenan was director from 1998 to 2007. At the time that I became Director of Studies in 1997, there were the three programs of studies organized much the same way. The Director of Studies had very broad responsibilities, and each of us supervised the library collection in our field and we supervised any types of collections in our field. So, when I began I had the Byzantine librarian reporting to me, and she in turn supervised eight staff people, and then the Byzantine curator, who in turn supervised two staff people, and then the curator of the, what was called the Byzantine visual resources, what’s now the Image Collection and Fieldwork Archive, and she in turn supervised about three people, so I had, as did the other directors of studies, very broad supervisory responsibilities. And we were much more involved with the collections and the library at Dumbarton Oaks, and this was the system that had been in place for Byzantine studies since the beginning. But Ned Keenan decided that it was silly, for example, for there to be three separate libraries, each having a cataloger, and that it would make more sense to integrate the libraries and have a single either cataloger or cataloging staff who would do everything, and that acquisitions should be concentrated in one or two individuals, and not have such duplication of effort in the three programs. He felt there would be efficiency of scale and that it might be handled in a more professional manner, so he began with the library and the first thing that happened was that the three libraries were integrated in name. In those days all the library, all the books were still in the Main House and there was no way of physically integrating them, so they remained physically separate. But a head librarian was hired and slowly the process began of reorganizing the library staff, and so that there was a cataloging department and an acquisitions department and then there were specialist librarians in each field who were responsible for working with the Fellows and visitors and for recommending acquisitions of books. And that system was fully instituted by the early 2000s, and so that was one major major change. Then when Susan Boyd retired in 2004, Ned Keenan made a similar decision to integrate all the museum collections and to have a museum director – such a title had never existed before here – and to no longer have the Directors of Studies supervising the collections, and so in 2004, actually we were searching simultaneously for a new museum director and for a new Byzantine curator, and Gudrun Buehl was hired as Byzantine curator and we hired another woman as the museum director, but unfortunately she, in the end, was unable to come and had to withdraw. She was living in Germany and there were complications about her pension, I believe, from the German government, and Gudrun Buehl had made such a positive impression that she was rapidly promoted to be museum director and she effectively has been serving as Byzantine curator ever since. And so, then she took over supervision of, for example, the Pre-Columbian curator and also of the photographer and the head of the docents and the museum shop, and so that was another major shift. And then the – I can’t remember the date of this, but also sometime in the early 2000s – the, what used to be called the photo collection and fieldwork archive was transferred to be under the head librarian, and so I no longer had responsibility for that. So, there was a major loss I would say of responsibilities. The Director of Studies definitely has a weaker position than in the earlier days. On the other hand, I do think that most of these decisions were good ones to make, that with the increase in the size of staff at Dumbarton Oaks and with the increasing complications of the digital age and all that, it has made a great deal of sense to do this, this reorganization, and that things are going well with the new system, and as it turns out, I’ve still had more than enough to do because of, I would say, increasing responsibilities in other areas, primarily publications and academic – organization of academic events. But that I’d say has been a very major change here in the past twelve years.

JNSL: Which parts of your job as Director did you cherish the most, did you enjoy the most?
AMT: Oh –

JNSL: apart from – I’m sure there were a lot of difficult administrative responsibilities.

AMT: Well, I think I probably enjoy interaction with the Fellows the most, but that actually is a rather small part of the job. I have gotten a lot of pleasure out of the organization of academic events, which have been hard work but I think have had good results and it’s been a wonderful way of bringing so many tremendous scholars to Dumbarton Oaks and they’ve resulted in good publications; so, I’ve enjoyed having a role in that. I’ve spent most of my time on publications – that definitely is the lion’s share of the position now. I think it may always have been fairly important, although in the early days I think fieldwork, the supervision of fieldwork was an extremely important component and that stopped completely in the 1970s, and also I think when Kitzinger was Director of Studies, for example, I’m sure he was more involved in the museum because of his interest in art, but the publications are just a constant – constantly demanding because of the need to produce an annual journal and then the fact that every year we have events such as colloquia and symposia that, in turn, lead to new publications. So, you’re just sort of finishing up publishing one symposium and then another symposium takes place and you have to immediately turn around and start soliciting papers for that and going through the review process, revision, editing process all over again. And it also has been true that we have tackled some unusually large editorial projects in the ‘90s and early 2000s. Henry Maguire realized that one of the problems about not having a director of studies for so long was that there was total neglect of the publication of Dumbarton Oaks field work, so that the projects in Cyprus, for example, which had mostly taken place in the ‘60s and very early ‘70s, were never published. And Henry started to try to pressure the responsible parties to prepare publications of the fieldwork or of the monuments on which they worked. And so, he launched that project and he should take almost full responsibility for Lagoudhera which was done by the Winfields, David and June Winfield, and he made a good start on the publication of the Episcopal Basilica at Kourion, which was the project of Megaw. But that project turned out to be particularly difficult because of Megaw’s extremely advanced age, and he was unable to serve properly as an editor-in-chief of the volume. And so, the materials were received in very unsatisfactory condition and it took literally many, many years to pull that publication together, and it was only published about two years ago. I mean, that took maybe twelve years to publish, and then Asinou has also been a very, very difficult project because two successive scholars renounced its publication, one after fifteen years and one after sixteen years, so thirty-one years later we finally started with a new team to publish it. And that is finally out in copy editing, but I have spent a huge amount of time on Asinou and Kourion, for example, just trying to pull together all the contributors and to get the manuscripts and the photos here. Then we had other huge projects like the Typikon Translation Project, which, although the translations were pretty much finished by 1990, there were great delays in doing the final editing, pulling the work together. And those five volumes were not published until 2000, and there were five volumes, so that was another very large project. And then Angeliki Laiou’s Economic History of Byzantium in three volumes was published in 2002, and these were all multi-contributor books, which just compounds the difficulties when you’re dealing with many, many, many authors. So, I think that’s one reason why the publications have been so totally absorbing and time consuming, because they have been very major publications and have had various degrees of complexity. We’ve also published – we’ve finished publishing the coin catalogs, for example. That was a project which went on for – it took almost fifty years to publish those, and the final two volumes, each in two parts, were published in 1999. So, I do feel that we made major, major strides forward in completing a lot of projects which had been underway for, in some cases, decades, and I’m very very happy that they are available now. I also was involved in the project to, for the first time, make our publications or at least some of them available in digital form on the web. And this was an idea broached, under Ned Keenan, by Glenn Ruby, who was director of publications at the time, and his idea was to make these works available at no cost to users, which was a quite revolutionary idea in 1998, 1999. And so, I was involved in the discussions of which books we would make available and getting author permissions and sort of dealing with the ramifications of that project. We didn’t put everything online that we publish but a very substantial proportion of the books we published between ‘99 and 2005 were put online, and the DOPs that were published for about five years in that time period. But then with Glenn’s death in 2005 that came to an end, and I hope it may be revived at a later time.

JNSL: At what point did the summer programs in Byzantine Greek begin, was that also during your time here?

AMT: Yeah, they started in 2000, and I had – this is something I had wanted to do since I became Director of Byzantine Studies. I found recently the letter I wrote to Angeliki Laiou in the first month I was Director of Byzantine Studies. She’d asked me to outline my goals, and I wrote down there that I felt keenly that there were very few opportunities, especially for American graduate students, to receive training in auxiliary disciplines except at a handful, well, less than a handful of universities, and that Dumbarton Oaks could provide a real service by offering a training in medieval Greek and paleography and sigillography, numismatics, epigraphy, et al. And she stepped down the next year, but I brought up the idea with Ned Keenan and the Senior Fellows and received strong support to start the summer school in medieval Greek. And so, we began that in 2000, and it ran for two summers in a row and then we decided to also institute one in coins and seals, and so that one was held in 2002, and then we began to alternate the programs. Then what happened, the coins and seals program was held in 2004 and then we began the major construction project at Dumbarton Oaks, and so for four years we had to not hold the summer schools, because either the Main House was inaccessible or the Guest House – the Fellows Building – Guest House was unavailable, so that was very frustrating, because we’d just gotten the project rolling and then we had to stop for four years. But I was approached by Maria Georgopoulou  who is the director of the Gennadius Library at the American School in Athens, and she had heard about the summer school and was anxious to launch something similar in Athens. And so, when she heard, first of all, that we couldn’t do it here because we were closed down, she asked if we would have any objection if they sort of imitated us and did something similar, and we said no of course not. And then I met with her and we agreed essentially to alternate years, so the year in which we had the coins and seals summer school here they do the medieval Greek program in Athens, and so every summer there is one available. I mean, there is also a program in Belfast, but it’s – I think ours is at a higher level. The one in Belfast starts, in some cases, with beginners, and our program also lasts a full four weeks, whereas the one in Belfast is for two weeks, each program. So, we were able to resume that program of having the summer schools in 2008 and I trust they will continue in the future. We’ve had wonderful faculty for them. The first two years I co-taught with Alexander Alexakis and George Dennis and then George Dennis had health problems and moved. And Alexander Alexakis moved back to Greece, and so I’ve most recently began partnering with Stratis Papaioannou, and we’ll be doing it again next June in 2010. And then Alexander and Stratis are the two teachers in Athens which ensures that there is a great deal of similarity between the two programs because the faculty is the same. There are some differences between the schools, in Greece that they can take them on wonderful field trips which – we can’t unfortunately go to Byzantine churches here in Washington. But we have been making a real effort to expose the students to the resources at Dumbarton Oaks, and they get to visit the museum and to look at manuscripts in our collection and look at the facsimiles in the Rare Books Room, and I think they have a very, very full experience here.

JNSL: That’s wonderful. And in starting to close this interview – some broader questions. Do you have one particularly funny anecdote that stands out in your memory of all of these years that you think should be part of our institutional memory as well?

AMT: Well, there is one story I tell, it’s just about myself, but it is a – it was a very amusing event. It was in the early era of the compact stacks. Giles Constable introduced compact stacks to Dumbarton Oaks. It must have been around 1978, when I was working here, and I have to – they were, at that time, in the room which is now D.O.’s archives room. And I have to tell you that in those early days of compact stacks people were extremely nervous about the fact that they closed automatically and people were really scared of getting caught in them. We just weren’t used to them, and there were lots and lots of jokes about people getting caught in them and tales of murder mysteries and things like that. And these particular compact stacks were extremely long, the ranges were very long, which made them, especially in those early days, very vulnerable to breakdown. So, there were problems with the compact stacks which, I think, made us even more nervous about them. So, one day I went down to get a book out of the stacks and I had to move a range of them to get my book, and after I’d gotten my book and I was walking out, I heard a voice say, “When you have finished getting your book, could you please put the stacks back the way they were so I can get out?” And this was a perfectly calm voice but I absolutely panicked because I was sure I had trapped someone in the compact stacks, and the person didn’t sound injured but I was really, first of all, startled at this voice because I hadn’t seen – I had checked, and there wasn’t anyone in the aisle, so I couldn’t understand, so I said, “Where are you?” And he said, “I’m in the wall.” I said, “You’re in the wall?” He said, “Yes,” he says, “I’m a workman. I’m working on some plumbing in the wall.” And it turned out that he had opened the stacks so that, to expose the hole in the wall where he could access some pipes, and then he’d gone into the wall to fix his project – to do his project, and I had locked him in by moving the compact stacks, and so he obviously was concerned that I move them so he could get out again. Well, I can tell you, I was extremely startled and very relieved that I found out that he was in the wall and not squished between two stacks, but I can assure you, it was one of those incidents I will never, never forget.

JNSL: In which of the symposia of the many that you have attended – which one stands out for any particular reason?
AMT: That is very hard. I guess one that does stand out is the 1998 symposium on Constantinople which was organized by Henry Maguire and Robert Outsterhout, and that stands out for a number of reasons. First of all, because it was certainly the most popular symposium we ever had. In those days we could accommodate 200 people in the Music Room, as opposed to 120 now, but this symposium, because it was on Constantinople, was so popular that we were incredibly oversubscribed, over 250 people wanted to sign up for it. And it was a very, very difficult experience to deal with the unhappy people who wanted to come. So, I remember that one because of my poor assistant who had to keep fending people off on the phone and telling them they couldn’t come and the difficulties of that. But for a happier reason, I mean, it was happy that so many people came in the end, but I also remember it because we did organize a wonderful exhibit in connection with the symposium, which was based heavily on material from the Fieldwork Archive, and Natalia Teteriatnikov organized it. And it was just spectacular and it was the first time that the great reproductions of the Hagia Sofia mosaics were mounted and made available to be on display, so there was enormous excitement. We were only able to show three of them, but still they made an amazing impact, and then Natalia had extraordinary photographs of the, of Whittemore’s work on the restoration in Hagia Sofia. There were fieldwork notebooks on display. It was a truly, truly memorable exhibit which everyone who came enjoyed enormously, and it also was the beginning of making available those reproductions from both Hagia Sofia and Kariye Djami, which had been rolled up for decades and forgotten. And it was Henry Maguire who first really rediscovered them and began to set the wheels in motion for their restoration and mounting which has happened gradually over the past decade. So, that really, for me, was a quite memorable symposium, yes. In terms of colloquia, I think one of the most memorable was the one in 1999 which I organized with Cécile Morrisson because that marked the retirement of Philip Grierson after serving as Adviser for Numismatics for forty-five years. And I had become very close to Philip Grierson because he always stayed in the Fellows Building when he was at Dumbarton Oaks, so we had many breakfasts and dinners together. And it was an extraordinary privilege to get to know him and it was a bittersweet event, I mean, it marked the completion of the cataloging of the coins and the final publication, so we were very happy about that. It was a celebration of Philip’s amazing contributions to Dumbarton Oaks over forty-five years, but it was also very sad as it marked the end of an era, that he would no longer be coming to Dumbarton Oaks on a regular basis. But it was a truly marvelous colloquium full of emotion, really.

JNSL: I am just so grateful for your time today, thank you very much. Are there any other final thoughts that you would like to share before we end? There so much more we could speak about.

AMT: Well, maybe I should just maybe say a few words about the changes I’ve seen over the decades –

JNSL: Oh yes, I’d meant to address that.

AMT: – since I am one of the relatively few people who has had some connection with Dumbarton Oaks for over forty years, and I have see enormous changes in the place. When I first was here as a Junior Fellow it was a very, very small institution – very small staff. There was one person in the finance office, as opposed to six now, there were only Byzantinists here, it only operated in the academic year because there was no central air conditioning, and so the place was pretty much closed down during the summer and only had a skeleton staff during the summer. There were air conditioners in a few offices, so people could work, a few staff people could stay on during the summer, but there were no Fellows here. It was impossible to work in the library as a reader, and so it was a very small, very hierarchical institution, extremely formal. Giles Constable made an enormous difference in the history of Dumbarton Oaks in doing two things. First of all, in installing air conditioning which had incredible implications for the institution because it meant we could operate year round and so, as of 1980, we were able to offer summer fellowships, to put summer fellows in the Fellows Building, for example, to have people work in the library all summer long, and it meant he was able to just expand all the programs substantially. He also greatly democratized, if that’s the right word, Dumbarton Oaks by making great efforts to have all three programs on a more even basis. The Byzantine Studies program has always been the biggest, has always had the largest budget, has always had the most Fellows, it’s always had the biggest library, it’s always been the biggest, but Giles did a great deal to make sure that the other two programs were much more comparable in their facilities and in their programming. And he also made changes such as altering the system at lunch so that it was no longer sit-down all at the same time, but it was a buffet that you could come at any point which meant that more people could use the dining room – because we had lunch in the dining room in this building – that more people could eat lunch. And therefore he was able to – essentially to open up lunch to a larger number of people, although it was still very crowded and basically it remained used by Fellows and what I would call sort of professional staff, such as museum curators, librarians, publications manager. It’s not the way it is now, that absolutely everybody can come to lunch, but still, it was a very important change that Giles made. Then I saw the time in which there was no Director of Byzantine Studies, which, as I say, I think was a mistake. I’ve been very pleased to see the reinstatement of that position in the early ‘90s and really the, I would say, the steady growth in activities since that time. Angeliki Laiou was – one of her important changes was to encourage what she called “innovative activities,” because up to 1991, the main academic events we had at Dumbarton Oaks were the annual symposium, and we did have public lectures, and we did have these seminars by in-house staff, but we never had colloquia, roundtables, the type of event which we now sort of take for granted. So, she provided more money in the budget to open up the programs of academic events to be more flexible, to accommodate a range of activities which my predecessor Henry Maguire launched – those early programs – and that I’ve continued since then. And that trend has, I would say, dramatically increased under Jan Ziolkowski, who has encouraged even more activities here and has been extremely anxious to involve more people in activities at Dumbarton Oaks, to bring more people here. So, I would say another major change I’ve seen is a much greater interest in opening up Dumbarton Oaks in recent years, more interest in making the museum collections more visible and encouraging people to come, for many years I don’t think the directors cared if the public came to the museum or not, now I think there’s much more emphasis in active public programming and having a series of special exhibits and encouraging great visitation. Jan Ziolkowski has greatly increased the interaction between Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard, which I think is a very important development. Dumbarton Oaks has had surprisingly little contact with Harvard over the years, and I think Jan is doing a great deal to change that pattern, and I think Jan also is being very supportive of having more of the type of lecture that will be of interest to a wider public and bringing more people into Dumbarton Oaks. So, I am very happy about these developments, I have to say, that again, when I looked at some of the goals that I had when I first became Director of Studies, they included exactly some of those initiatives and with the support of recent directors of the institution we’ve been able to move in that direction and I’m very happy at the direction we’re going in now.

JNSL: Well, I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity to speak with you today. Thank you so much.