Thomas Whittemore (1871-1950) was a teacher, amateur archaeologist, humanitarian aid worker, and director of the Byzantine Institute. He was born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, and received his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Tufts College in 1894. He taught English at Tufts and later at Columbia University and New York University until early 1930.
In the 1910s and 1920s, Whittemore became involved in expeditions and excavation projects in Egypt and Bulgaria. In between excavation seasons, Whittemore devoted his time to humanitarian work in Bulgaria, Russia, and France. In 1930, Whittemore founded the Byzantine Institute, a non-profit organization whose mission was to conserve, restore, study, and document the monuments, sites, architecture, and arts in the former Byzantine Empire.
In 1931, Whittemore and the Byzantine Institute were given permission to conserve and restore the mosaics at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The Institute later initiated a similar campaign at Kariye Camii, and Whittemore served as director of the Institute for twenty years. In June 1950, Whittemore died while en route to the office of John Foster Dulles at the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
ICFA has three collections related to Whittemore and the Byzantine Institute: the Thomas Whittemore Papers, ca. 1875-1966 relates to Whittemore’s teaching career, early life, and personal relationships; Early Archaeological Projects Associated with Thomas Whittemore, 1910s-1930s relates to Whittemore’s archaeological work in Egypt; and The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. late 1920s-2000s are the records produced by the fieldwork activities of the Byzantine Institute. These collections consist of more than 300 boxes of administrative records, correspondence, fieldwork notebooks, drawings, photographs, and negatives. To see Thomas Whittemore in action, check out ICFA’s Moving Image Collection.
NICHOLAS V. ARTAMONOFF
Nicholas V. Artamonoff (1908-1989) was an electrical engineer who lived in Istanbul, Turkey from 1922 until the late 1940s. He studied at Robert College and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1930. He then worked at Robert College and was eventually promoted to Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. Around 1949, Nicholas and his wife, Natalie, immigrated to the United States. They eventually settled in the Washington, D.C. area, where Nicholas had a successful career in the federal government. Nicholas retired in 1977 and moved to San Diego, CA, where he died in 1989.
While living in Istanbul, Nicholas took many photographs of the city and other sites in Turkey. The collection in ICFA contains 542 black and white photographs taken in Istanbul and five archaeological sites in Western Turkey (Ephesus, Hierapolis, Laodicea on the Lycus, Pergamum, and Priene) from 1935 to 1945. Artamonoff’s photographs may be found in other collections, most notably in the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. In ICFA, the photographs are preserved as negatives and slides and are available in an online exhibit, the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection.
ROBERT L. VAN NICE
Robert Lawrence Van Nice (1910-1994) was born in Portland, Oregon, and graduated from the University of Oregon before receiving a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Van Nice was a Research Associate of Dumbarton Oaks from 1955 until he retired in the 1980s.
Van Nice conducted a large-scale study of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, from 1937 to 1985. William Emerson, a professor of Van Nice’s at MIT, sponsored the architectural survey for the first twenty years. Dumbarton Oaks then sponsored the project from 1957 until 1985, and was responsible for publication of the detailed architectural plates that Van Nice and his assistants produced from their fieldwork. The first installment of plates appeared in 1965, and the second in 1986.
The collection in ICFA contains over 50 boxes of research materials and drawings that document the architectural survey of Hagia Sophia. Materials produced during Van Nice’s survey include notebooks, research papers, rubbings of graffiti, brick stamps, and mason’s marks, blueprints, drawings, B&W photographs, slides, negatives, correspondence, and administrative papers.