The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Elizabeth Pierce Blegen

Elizabeth Pierce Blegen Papers (1888-1966)

Biographical Note

      Elizabeth Denny Pierce was born on 26 June 1888 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She attended Vassar College, 1906-1910, and in 1912 was awarded an MA in Latin. At Vassar, her interest in Greek archaeology was awakened by Ida Thallon (Hill), who would become her life-long friend. Elizabeth continued her education at Columbia, 1912-1915, and completed her PhD in 1922 with a dissertation on the Roman Consul and historian, G. Asinius Pollio.
      Between 1915 and 1922, she taught art history at Vassar and was assistant curator at the Vassar Art Gallery. In 1921 she traveled to Greece with Ida Thallon and in 1922-23, she participated in the American School of Classical Studies, Athens program, when Bert Hodges Hill was the School’s Director and Carl Blegen was teaching prehistory and general topography.
      Elizabeth was offered several positions between 1922 and 1924. Gisela M. A. Richter invited her to intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; although she did not accept the position, she did spend the spring of 1924 working for Richter at the Museum. Edward Capps, chairman of the ASCSA Managing Committee asked her to serve as the School’s Secretary or Dean of Women, but she also declined this offer.
      In the summer of 1924, she married Carl Blegen. A few years later, Ida Thallon married Bert Hodge Hill. In 1929, the Blegens and Hills took up residence at 9 Ploutarchou Street where they lived until Elizabeth deeded the house to the ASCSA in 1963. During the decades the Blegens and Hills resided at 9 Ploutarchou their house was a gathering place for archaeologists and students of all nationalities where ideas and discoveries were exchanged over tea or dinner.
      Elizabeth was involved full-heartedly in her husband’s work: she excavated with him at Prosymna, Troy and Pylos; catalogued material from the excavations; and contributed chapters, bibliographies and indices to his publications. She also worked with the Hills at their excavations on Cyprus and Corinth. From 1925 to 1952, Elizabeth Blegen wrote “Newsletter from Greece” for the American Journal of Archaeology. Her summaries of excavation activities, highly regarded by her fellow archaeologists, depended on the trust excavators had in her to describe their work. 
      Elizabeth Denny Pierce Blegen died 21 September 1966 and was buried in the same resting place as her life-long companions Carl Blegen, Ida Thallon Hill and Bert Hodges Hill in the Protestant section of the First Cemetery of Athens.

Scope and Content

      Although this is a small collection of Elizabeth Pierce Blegen’s correspondence and varia, it includes a number of interesting items: Carl Blegen’s 1923 courtship letters and some later letters describing his work at Pylos; letters from Edward Capps, Bert Hodges Hill, Grace MacCurdy, Gisela M. A. Richter and Alan Wace; Elizabeth’s will and deed of the 9 Ploutarchou property to the ASCSA; her diary of activities at the ASCSA, 1924-1925; photographs and some of her watercolors.

Container List

BOX 1 Personal Correspondence

Folder 1:  Carl Blegen (shipboard & Athens) (4 – 28 February 1923)

Folder 2: Carl Blegen (shipboard & Athens) (3 – 31 March, 1923)

Folder 3: Carl Blegen (Athens) (1 – 20 April, 1923)

Folder 4: Carl Blegen (2 May 1923 and nd)

Folder 5: Carl Blegen (1939-1955)
Telegram announcing discovery of Palace of Nestor (1939)

Folder 6: Carl Blegen (1957-1964)

Folder 7: Avery, Myrtilla (1923)
Berry, -?- Packer/Parker(?) (nd)
Capps, Edward (nd)
Dunham, D-?- (1927)
Emery, Babs (1961)
French(?), Lisa Wace(?) (nd)
Hill, Bert Hodge (1923-1956)
Hill, Priscilla Capps (1961)
MacCurdy, Grace (1927)
Lewey(?) (nd)
Meritt, Lucy Shoe to Elizabeth Langridge-Noti (1997)
O’Neil, Joanie (1964)
Perry, Arthur & Emilie (1963)
Richter, Gisela M. A. (1923)
Thayer, Appie & Anne (1961)
Thomas, Winifred (1963)
Wace, Alan (1939-1947)
Wyman, Frances S., Mrs. (nd)
Unknown (1939-1962)

BOX 2 Correspondence and Miscellaneous Items

Folder 1*: Associations
Columbia University (1910-1966)
(Greek) National Archaeological Museum (1939)

Folder 2: Business
Adams & Peck (Stockbroker): Correspondence (1957-1966)
Adams & Peck (Stockbroker): Financial Statements
Car Insurance and Registration (1929-1963)
Lake Placid Club (1964)
Penguin Books, Ltd. (1956)
Ύπουργείον Βιομηχανίας (1952)

Folder 3: Will
Will of Elizabeth Pierce Blegen (1958-1963)
Elizabeth Pierce Blegen’s Deed of Gift to ASCSA (and thank you notes) (1963)
~ see also Adams & Peck

Folder 4: Diary
“American School, Athens Official Diary 1924-1925 Kept by E. D. B.”

Folder 5: Photographs
Lake Placid(?) with negatives (not labeled)
“Eliz. Blegen & Ida Thallon” (nd)
Travel in Greece (some are labeled) (1923)
“A Picnic on the Hellespont” (nd)
Elizabeth Pierce Blegen shipboard (nd)
Vassar (1912)
Portrait photo (nd)

Folder 6: Watercolors (1938-1951)
Elizabeth Pierce Blegen’s Book Plate

Folder 7: Maintenance of the House on Ploutarchou 9 (these documents were given to us by E.L.I.A in 2012)

Note: The collection was processed by Lizabeth Ward Papageorgiou.

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: 210-723-6313 Fax: 210-725-0584
Contact via E-mail