The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Dorothy Burr with her excavation crew at the Athenian Agora, 1933

Dorothy Burr Thompson Papers


Dorothy Burr was born in 1900 in Philadelphia into a professional family who encouraged her intellectual development. She remembered her mother, a novelist and biographer, secluded in the mornings in pursuit of her work (something she too would find herself doing years later). By the time she entered Bryn Mawr College in 1919, she already had an interest in the classics and archaeology through family friends, especially Edith Hall Dohan, whose exciting tales of excavating in Crete made a strong impression. She became the first Bryn Mawr student to major in Greek and archaeology and was deeply influenced by her professor, Rhys Carpenter. When she graduated in 1923, she set off for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. During her two years in Greece, she gained valuable excavating experience at Phlius under Carl W. Blegen and at Eutresis under Hetty Goldman. At the end of the season at Eutresis, she enthusiastically volunteered to stay on alone in Thebes during the winter—in less than comfortable conditions—to study the pottery found there.

In 1925, she returned to the United States to pursue her doctorate at Bryn Mawr. In 1932, she returned to Greece and, as the first woman appointed a Fellow of the Agora Excavations, spent the next seven summers working on the excavations there. It was here she met Homer A. Thompson, a Canadian colleague at the Agora, who she married in 1934. Dorothy moved to Toronto with her husband and between 1935 and 1938 gave birth to three daughters. Even with three young children, the whole family packed off to Athens during the summers and Dorothy continued to work in the Agora. During the war years, with her husband serving in the military, she assumed his position as instructor of Greek and Roman Art at the University of Toronto. In 1946, she accepted the position of Acting Director of the Royal Ontario Museum, the position of Director having been turned down by her husband the previous year. The next year, Dorothy’s future was again determined by her husband, when he joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Dorothy Burr Thompson’s publications The Terra-cottas from Myrina in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1934), Miniature Sculpture from the Athenian Agora (1959), Troy: The Terracotta Figurines of the Hellenistic Period (1963); over fifty articles and reviews in Hesperia and other professional journals; and visiting professorships at the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Princeton University and Oberlin Colege, established her as a recognized expert in her field. But her interests were not restricted to terracottas: in 1948, she translated and published a collection of Greek lyric poetry, Swans and Amber; her interest in gardens led to her writing Garden Lore of Ancient Athens (1963); her attempt to answer questions about the chronology of Hellenistic sculpture resulted in the publication of Ptolemaic Oinochoai and Portraits in Faience (1973); and, taking advantage of the great scientific minds at the Institute for Advanced Study like Robert Oppenheimer, she gathered archaeologists and scientists to study the possibility of applying the methods of nuclear research to the study of classical archaeology (specifically the dating of terracotta fabric, which is addressed in a number of letters found in this collection). In 1987, the American Institute of Archaeology honored Dorothy Burr Thompson’s contributions to the field by awarding her the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement. In 2001, after a very long and productive life, Dorothy Burr Thompson died.

(Christine Mitchell Havelock, “Dorothy Burr Thompson (b. 1900): Classical Archaeologist” in Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts, 1820-1979, ed. Claire Richter Sherman, 1981)


BOX 1: Personal Correspondence  (A- N)

A lot of correspondence appears in DBT’s Working Papers (Boxes 3 and 4). Readers are referred to the location of this correspondence by box and folder number [3:4] under the name of the correspondent.

Folder 1: Personal Correspondence
Adams, Alison (1982)
Akurgal, Ekrem (1960)
Alexander, Christine (1947–1949)
~ see also “TC Dancers” [4:4]
~ see also “Theatrical Varia” [4:5]
~ see also “Demeter Cistern” [4:1]
Ammerman, Rebecca Miller (1987–1989)
Beazley, J. D. (1951)
Benachi, L. A. (1950)
~ see also “TC Dancers” [4:4]
Bernabo Brea, Luigi (1959)
Besques, Simone (1977–1983)
Bonacasa, Nina (1992)
Bonitz, Dorothy (1982)
Borowsky, Nina (nd)
Brogan, Oliver (1968)
Brown, Ann (1979)
Burr, Charles and Ann (1946)
Burr, Pamela (1945)
Cahn, Herbert
~ see “TC Dancers” [4:4]
Camp, John (1974)
Camp, Margot (1981–1982)
Carpenter, Rhys (1952)
Carter, Joseph (1979)
Catling, Hector W. (1978)
Chase, George H.
~ see “Demeter Cistern” [4:1]
Conner, Caroline (1986)
Crentreberg, Helen (1982)
Debenichi, June M. (1980)
Deonna, W. (1952)
~ see also “TC Dancers” [4:4]
Diamant, Jan (1984–1989)
Dinsmoor, William B.
~ see “TC Dancers” [4:4]
Döhl, Hartmut (1966–1967)
Edwards, G. Roger (1971–1988)
Farnsworth, Marie
~ See “Coroplast’s Dump” [3:4]
Fernald, Helen
~ see “Coroplastics” [3:4]
Fillieres, Dominique
~ see “D. Fillieres Chemical Work” [3:5]
France, Jean [Mrs. Robert] (1949–1950)
Frantz, Alison
~ see “Coroplast’s Dump” [3:4]

Folder 2: Personal Correspondence
Garton, Charles (1971)
Gehrig, Ulrich (1979)
~ see also “Bibliographies” [3:3]
Ghiron, P. (1967)
Grandjouan, Claireve
~ see “Demeter Cistern” [4:1]
Green, Dick (1980–1982)
Gross, Robert (1986)
Harbottle, Garmon (1980–1982)
Harrison, Evelyn
~ see Nicholls, Richard V.
Higgins, Reynold (1957–1979)
~ see also “Coroplast’s Dump” [3:4]
~ see also “TC Dancers” [4:4]
Himmelmann, N. (1991)
Hood, Ronald G.
~ see “Fellahin and Egypt . . .” [4:2]
Hubbard, Oda (1984)
Ingholt, Harold
~ see “Coroplastics” [3:4]
Kantor, Helene
~ see “Demeter Cistern” [4:1]
Knörle, Liselotte (1958)
Kohn, John S. Van E. (1968)
Krause, Sydney J. (1967–1970)
McAllister, Louis (nd)
McGinn, Thomas A. J. (1983)
Matheson, Susan
~ see “Pygmies and Dwarfs . . .” [4:4]
Matson, Fred
~ see “Theatrical Varia . . .” [4:5]
Mattingly, Charlene (1986)
Merker, Gloria (1987)
~ see also “Coropolastics . . .” [3:4]
Miller, Margaret C. (1983)
Miller, Stella (1972)
Miller, Stephen G. (1982)

Folder 3: Personal Correspondence
Newell, Edward T.
~ see “Introduction I” [4:2]
Nicholls, Richard [Dick] V. (1950–1991)
Noelke, Peter (1966)

BOX 2: Personal Correspondence (P-Z) - Correspondence with Associations, Publishers, and Businesses -Dorothy Burr Thompson’s CVs, Biographies, and Honors; Exhibition “The Coroplast’s Art …”

Folder 1: Personal Correspondence
Palmer, ― (1956)
Pasquier, ― (1977)
Petruso, Nancy (1976)
Pfisterer-Haas, Susanne (1986–1988)
Pomeroy, Sarah B. (1980–1985)
Reeder, Ellen (1974–1990)
~ see also Nicholls, Richard
Richardson, J. (nd)
Robert, Louis (nd)
Robertson, Laura
~ see “Theatrical Varia . . .” [4:5]
Robinson, David M. (1952)
Robinson, Ron (ca. 1988)
Roccos, Linda Jones (1986)
Romano, Irene (1980–1986)
Rothman, Margaret S. P. (1989)
Rotroff, Susan (1974–1991)
Rudolph, Wolf
~ see “Pygmies and Dwarfs . . .” [4:4]
~ see “Correspondence Rudolph . . .” [3:5]

Folder 2: Personal Correspondence
Sakellarakis, Effie (nd)
Sayre, Edward
~ see “Technique: . . .” [4:5]
~ see Time-Life Books
Scheurleer, Robert A. (1970–1975)
Schilardi, Demerius U. (1968–1987)
Scott, Nora
~ see “Demeter Cistern” [4:1]
Smith, Amy C. (1993)
Solley, Thomas
~ see “Correspondence Rudolph . . .” [3:5]
Spurlock, Janis L. (ca. 1979)
Steiner, Theresa Ann
~ see “TC Dancers” [4:4]
Stevens, Susan A. (1987)
Stone, Laura M. (1980)
Strickler, Gerri Ann (1994–1995)
Stroud, Connie
~ see “Agora TCS: Lists + . . .” [3:2]

Folder 3: Personal Correspondence
Talcott, Lucy (1947–1951)
~ see also Nicholls, Richard
~ see also “Coroplast’s Dump” [3:4]
~ see also “Demeter Cistern” [4:1]
~ see also “Greek Terracottas: . . .” [4:2]
Taylor, W. S. (1986)
Themelis, Petros (1978)
Thomas, Ruth S. (1980)
Thompson, Hilary (1948)
Thompson, Homer (1973–1985)
Thompson, Pamela (1948)
Töpperwein, E. H. (1977)
Townsend, Helen (1979–1980)
Tushingham, Maggie (1947)
Uhlenbrock, Jaimee P. (1970–1991)
Vermeule, Cornelius C. (1958)
Vickers, Michael (1979)
~ see also “The Coroplast’s Art . . .” [2:8]
Waldron, Ann (1987)
Weber, Thomas (1981)
Webster, T. B. L. (1973)
Weinberg, Gladys
~ see “Coroplastics: . . .” [3:4]
Whitehead, Elizabeth A. (1976–1978)
Williams, Ellen Reeder
~ see Reeder, Ellen
Zerner, Carol (1986–1989)

Folder 4: Correspondence with Associations
American Consulate General, Toronto (1947)
American School Classical Studies, Athens (1982)
Archaeological Club (1986)
Bryn Mawr (1925–1991)
Greek War Relief (1944)
Historical Society of Princeton, New Jersey (1988)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (1939)

Folder 5: Correspondence with Publishers and Publications
Chesterman Publications (1985)
Hesperia (1980)
Who’s Who in American Art (1995)
Women in Archaeology, The Classical World and the Near East (1997)

Folder 6: Correspondence with Businesses
Hospitality Philadelphia Style Inc. (1988)
Time-Life Books (1989)

Folder 7: Dorothy Burr Thompson’s CVs, Bibliographies, Biographies, CVs, etc.
“Dorothy Burr Thompson (b. 1900): Classical Archaeologist” in Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts 1820–1979 (nd)
Lectures and curated exhibition (1947–1957)
Newspaper Interviews (1965–1990)
Photograph with Agnes Newhall and R. Stillwell, Skyros (1931)

Folder 8: Dorothy Burr Thompon’s Honors
Archaeological Institute of America – Gold Medal (1988)
Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies – Honorary Membership (1973)
State University of New York at New Paltz – Honorary Degree (1990)
          “The Coroplast’s Art: Greek Terracottas of the Hellenistic World” exhibition at Princeton University, State University of New York at New Paltz, Harvard University (1990–1991)

BOX 3: Dorothy Burr Thompson’s Working Notes
(The following folders are labeled as DBT labeled them. Several had more than one label. All have been recorded. They are listed alphabetically.)

Folder 1: “Agora TCS” and “Contexts Chronology” and “Correspondence with Athens” and “Jan Questions ‘86”
“Agora TCS: Bibliographies and Notes” and “Introduction”
“Agora TCS: Comparanda Bibliog.” and “Introduction” and “See also Photos filled (sic) as Comparanda for each class in main photo file”
“Agora TCS: Comparanda + Imports + Exports”
“Agora TCS: French Archaic (R. V. Nicholls 1977) Claireve Grandjouan”

Folder 2: “Agora TCS History and Style” and “Introduction”
“Agora TCS Introduct. Policy, Documentation, etc”
“Agora TCS: Lists + Index Concordances”
“Agora TCS: Sculptural and Bronze Relations Style”
“Altar Well: Notes”

Folder 3: “Bibliographies” (and miscellaneous correspondence and photographs)
“Chronology: Introductory and detailed items”
“Comparanda” and “Photo and other correspondence” and “Agora TCS: Photo order parallels” and “March ‘79” and “Photo Ordering for Comparanda”
“Comparanda: Alexandria”
“Context Lists” 

Folder 4: “Coroplastics: Varia” and “Myrina etc East”
“Coroplast’s Dump”

Folder 5: “Correspondence: Rudolph Dwarf Article” and “Bronze Dwarf”
“Correspond. – D. Fillieres Chemical Work” and “Technique Report and Details” and “Technique Fillieres Reports on Analyses”
“Dancers on Stools”

BOX 4: DBT’s Working Notes

Folder 1: “D.B.T. Comments on Rotroff’s Dating”
“Demeter Cistern” and “Hedgehog Well” and “M.S. Notes” and “Menon’s Cistern”
“Dwarf Article”

Folder 2: “Fellahin and Egypt, TCS: Mime-Roman Types” and “Theatrical Miscellaneous” and “Dancers Tasmanian Bowl”
“Greek Terracottas: Agora TZ lists, Miscellaneous Records” and “Superseded (sic) but to be kept + checked at end”
“Group B”
“Introduction I” and “General”

Folder 3: “Miscellanies”
“Miscellanies: Discards Figurine Vases (copy in Technique)” and “Introduction”
“Photos → Comparanda + Drawings” and “Agora TCS (Originals)?”
“The Lady with the Mirror”

Folder 4: “Pygmies and Dwarfs: Cranes and Toads Article for Thimme Festschrift 1979”
“Roman Omit (Catalogue entries only)”
“Sculpture: Metal, Stone Varia”
“TC Dancers”

Folder 5: “Technique: Correspondence etc A2, b”
“Theatrical Varia Comparanda TBLW” and “ Theatrical Comparanda Notes” and “Theatrical Miscellaneous NOT directly related to Agora TBLW correspondence”
“Troy: Miscellaneous” “Istanbul Notes”

BOXES 5-7: Three boxes of catalogue cards (8x22 cm) of terracottas.

The collection was processed by Lizabeth Ward Papageorgiou in 2011.

For more information, please contact the Archivist:
Dr. Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan:
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
54 Souidias Street, Athens 106 76, Greece
phone: 213 0002400 (ext. 106) Fax: 210-725-0584
Contact via E-mail