Hagia Sophia Homecoming: Returning to Istanbul after World War II
Hagia Sophia / Robert Van Nice / William Emerson

Hagia Sophia Homecoming: Returning to Istanbul after World War II

Written by Beth Bayley, former Byzantine Archives Assistant (2012-2014) The Van Nices returned to Istanbul in June of 1946, a year after the European theater of World War II had ended. Robert Van Nice had spent the war years both in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working on drawings, and then in London, England, and Bern, Switzerland, working … Continue reading

Leaving Hagia Sophia: Istanbul before World War II
Hagia Sophia / Robert Van Nice / William Emerson

Leaving Hagia Sophia: Istanbul before World War II

Written by Beth Bayley, Byzantine Archives Assistant All the talk about the Monuments Men and the role that Dumbarton Oaks played in World War II (as illustrated in our blog post about Harvard’s American Defense Group) got ICFA staff thinking about what else might be in our archives from that era. The following is another … Continue reading

The Influential Friendship of William Emerson
Hagia Sophia / Robert Van Nice / William Emerson

The Influential Friendship of William Emerson

Written by Beth Bayley, Archivist Assistant We have previously mentioned William Emerson, the man who sponsored Robert Van Nice’s survey of Hagia Sophia, but who was he, really?  Primarily, Emerson was an architect and the dean of the School of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1919 to 1939. He was also Van … Continue reading

Ephemera in the Archives, Part 3: Telegrams and Stickers
Byzantine Institute / Ephemera / Robert Van Nice

Ephemera in the Archives, Part 3: Telegrams and Stickers

Written by Beth Bayley, Archivist Assistant Ah, the telegram! Before email and texting and chat, it was the only way to deliver news quickly. Flag semaphore, smoke signals, and carrier pigeons all had their flaws as communication systems, so when the electrical telegraph was invented, the world got a lot smaller, a lot quicker. Telegrams, … Continue reading

Motivation, Methods, and Meaning: Architectural Drawings of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia / Robert Van Nice

Motivation, Methods, and Meaning: Architectural Drawings of Hagia Sophia

Written by Beth Bayley, Archivist Assistant As we’ve mentioned previously on this blog, Robert Van Nice spent most of his life working on an architectural survey of Hagia Sophia. Van Nice may have been the most dedicated person to ever carry out such a project on the building, but he wasn’t the only one. Wilhelm … Continue reading

Reminiscing over Sinai
Photographs / Robert Van Nice

Reminiscing over Sinai

Written by Jessica Cebra, ICFA Departmental Assistant The Dumbarton Oaks Annual Report recaps the institution’s initiatives and achievements of the previous year, including exhibitions, publications, lectures, and fieldwork. The reports for the academic years 1957-1958 and 1960-1961 modestly note Robert Van Nice’s leave of absence to spend “several weeks on Mt. Sinai assisting the expedition … Continue reading

The Basically Byzantine Singers
Dumbarton Oaks Archives / Dumbarton Oaks Fellows / Hagia Sophia / Robert Van Nice

The Basically Byzantine Singers

As a treat to start off the new year, we are proud to present the international debut of the Basically Byzantine Singers. Over the holidays, Bob Ousterhout managed to find the original cassette recording of the Santa Sophia song that we highlighted in our last post. Bob recalled that the Basically Byzantine Singers included himself, … Continue reading

Santa Sophia, Santa Sophia!
Assistants / Dumbarton Oaks Fellows / Hagia Sophia / Oral History / Photographs / Robert College / Robert Van Nice

Santa Sophia, Santa Sophia!

In October, we had the pleasure of meeting Robert Van Nice, Jr. and his wife, Dee, who came to visit ICFA and view the Van Nice archive. You might remember Bob, Jr. from his youthful drawing of Hagia Sophia, which was somewhat more abstract than the precise and meticulous architectural drawings of Robert Van Nice, … Continue reading