Finding Aid / Inventory / Pre-Columbian / Robert Van Nice

New Finding Aids and Inventories from ICFA


The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) is pleased to announce the publication of several new finding aids. Check under the “Finding Aids” field in the following collection-level records in our online inventory, AtoM@DO:

Additionally, ICFA has created preliminary inventories for:

These collections document various fieldwork and research projects, primarily relating to Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art and architecture, but also related to prehistoric sites in eastern Turkey and gardens in the United Kingdom. They range from the detailed architectural survey of Hagia Sophia conducted by Robert Van Nice and his fieldwork assistants between 1937 and 1980s; the documentation of architectural capitals in the city of Istanbul by William Betsch for his dissertation; the photographic and fineline drawing documentation of Moche art created and assembled by Christopher Donnan and Donna McClelland; and correspondence detailing the financial support provided by Mildred and Robert Bliss to scholarly publications and archaeological expeditions undertaken by Kirsopp and Silva Lake. Additionally, other collections illustrate Dumbarton Oaks’ early fellowship and institutional projects starting in the early 1940s, including systematic efforts to document Early Christian and Byzantine monuments, manuscripts, and silver objects. There are also photo albums detailing Donald Egbert and Andrew Keck’s 1937 travels in Europe and the Middle East, as well as Franklin Biebel’s efforts to document mosaic pavements in Byzantium and the West.

Since our last announcement of published finding aids in April 2013, ICFA staff has continued to work on processing our collections and providing detailed information in our finding aids, in order to make our holdings more accessible to our users. As collections are processed, we develop finding aids to describe them more thoroughly and at more granular levels in the archival hierarchy. In the interim, the AtoM@DO collection-level descriptions and preliminary inventories serve to provide researchers with summary information about unprocessed collections.


ICFA Post-Bac Intern, Clare Moran, rearranging files in the Robert Van Nice archive.

Of course, none of this work would be possible without our dedicated and resourceful assistants and interns, whom we would like to thank for their hard work and dedication.

Clare Moran (Post Bac Intern, 2011-2012) and Beth Bayley (Byzantine Archives Assistant, 2012-2014) carefully assessed and processed Van Nice’s incredible archive of drawings, tracings, and photographs that include detailed descriptions and calculations of each section in Hagia Sophia. Moran and Bayley also provided their own original analysis of the creator and his archive through insightful and informative blog posts. They were aided in this effort by contributions from Van Nice’s children and former fieldwork assistants, who provided additional depth and nuance to our understanding of Van Nice and his decades-long project.

Lisa Trever (William R. Tyler Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies, 2012-2013) and Ameena Mohammed (Pre-Columbian Archives Assistant, 2013-2014) have combined their evaluations and findings to compile a 200+ plus page finding aid for the Moche Archive.

The Moche Sacrifice Ceremony depicted on a bottle in the Museo Larco, Lima. Photography by Christopher B. Donnan. Rollout drawing by Donna McClelland (448)

The Moche Sacrifice Ceremony depicted on a bottle in the Museo Larco, Lima. Photography by Christopher B. Donnan. Rollout drawing by Donna McClelland (448)

The complexity of the Moche Archive poses challenges that need to be addressed in order to make the finding aid accurately reflect the many layers of inter-related information assembled by Donnan and McClelland. Nevertheless, we decided to tackle the project in phases and to release a first draft of the finding aid. In the future months, we hope to work on a concordance in order to unite Christopher Donnan’s subject categories for Moche iconography with terms used by other scholars within the field, as well as to rehouse the collection’s 116,000 items.


William Betsch, Composite Capital, Ipek Bodrum Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey (Roll 4, Frame 10; ICFA.WB.0040)

We are also extremely thankful for our interns from the University of Maryland and Catholic University of America. Alison Skaggs (library science graduate intern from UMD, Spring 2014) continued the work of former interns, Ana Elisa de Campos Salles and Rebecca Calcagno, and former staff member, Kate Herron, to finalize the descriptions for William Betsch’s negatives. These images document Byzantine capitals found throughout Istanbul, many in structures that are quite difficult to access today. The collection provides an effective compliment to another Istanbul-focused collection in ICFA, the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Photographs of Istanbul and Turkey, 1935-1945.

To learn more about these collections and to search through the finding aids, please visit ICFA’s recently redesigned website ( and the department’s online inventory AtoM@DO ( Our finding aids are available as PDFs and within the AtoM collection management system. In the coming months, ICFA will move forward with converting our long-form finding aids to hierarchical multi-level archival description in AtoM@DO. We will also continue to finalize other processing projects and finding aids for additional collections… So, stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “New Finding Aids and Inventories from ICFA

  1. Pingback: The Hagia Sophia Lives Online | DO/Conversations

  2. Pingback: Processing the Christopher B. Donnan and Donna McClelland Moche Archive, 1963-2011 | icfa

  3. Pingback: New Finding Aids from ICFA | icfa

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