The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Sterling Dow and Johannes Kirchner at Liopesi (Paiania), ca. 1937.



Sterling Dow was born 19 November 1903 in Portland, Maine. He attended Harvard College and received a BA in 1925 with honors in philosophy; he won the Fiske Scholarship to study history at Trinity College, Cambridge for one year and then received his MA from Harvard in 1928. In 1931, he married Elizabeth “Libby” Sanderson Flagg and moved to Athens where he was associated with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens from 1931 to 1936. In 1936, he received his PhD from Harvard.
      From 1936 until his retirement in 1970, Dow taught at Harvard College, first as a tutor and instructor (1936-1941), then Associate Professor (1941-1946), then Professor of History and Greek (1946-1948), and, in 1949, he was appointed the John E. Hudson Professor of Archaeology. During World War II, he worked in military intelligence (OSS) in Cairo.
      Sterling Dow was known primarily for his work in Greek epigraphy and history, but his interests were not limited to those fields and during his career he wrote five books and more than 150 articles and reviews covering many subjects. When Dow was in Athens in the 1930s, he met and worked with the great epigrapher, Johannes Kirchner, and, at that time, Dow developed a new technique for making portable squeezes of inscriptions. In the succeeding years he collected a vast collection of squeezes of Athenian public and private inscriptions.
      After WWII, he turned his attention to encouraging and improving the teaching of the classics in secondary schools: he founded Teachers of Classics in New England, he was instrumental in a revised edition of a standard Greek reference grammar and a new textbook for beginning Greek. Dow also helped found the journal Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies and was the founding father of Archaeology. He served as president of the Archaeological Institute of America and was a founder of the American Research Center in Egypt. He was the Annual Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 1966-1967 and worked for the College Year in Athens and the Aegean Institute. He also taught at Boston College and was the Blegen Distinguished Professor at Vassar after his retirement and was the Sather Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington.
      Sterling Dow died 9 January 1995.

From Emily Vermuele, “Sterling Dow, 1903–1995” American Journal of Archaeology 99 (1995) 729-30;
Donald H. Fleming, “Sterling Dow: Faculty of Arts and Sciences – Memorial Minute (Harvard College)”

This small collection, which came into the possession of the ASCSA Archives in 1996, contains Sterling Dow’s classroom and field trip notebooks, photograph albums and three catalogues of inscriptions from the 1930s when he was at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens; over twenty articles, notes and drafts written (probably) in 1966 and 1967 when he was the Annual Professor at the School. In addition there is a notebook of Elizabeth Dow, Sterling Dow’s wife, dating to the 1930s; James H. Oliver’s catalogue of Agora inscriptions; and a binder labeled “Mount Olympus Thessaly–Greece Notes and Correspondence.”

BOX 1 : Notebooks and Photo Albums (all but the last item probably date 1930s)

Notebook – James H. Oliver, Agora Excavations: The Inscriptions (nd)
Notebook – Sterling Dow, ASCSA (a catalogue, untitled, undated)
Notebook – Sterling Dow, ASCSA: Catalogue of Finds, Inscriptions (nd)
Photo Album – Sterling Dow, “Hymettian Quarries” (b/w snapshots) (nd)
Photo Album – Sterling Dow, “Attika” (b/w snapshots of sites, objects, landscape, some people)
Photo Album – Sterling Dow, “Athens” (b/w snapshots of sites, objects, the city)
Photograph – Johannes Kirchner and Sterling Dow at Markopoulo (1935 or 1936)
Photographs (4) – Machteld Mellink, Virginia Grace, Sterling Dow, D. F. Ogden and others on summit of hill
    over-looking the Marathonian Plain taken by Crawford Greenewalt, (Summer 1960?)

BOX 2 : Notebooks and Binder

Sterling Dow’s handwritten notebooks labeled:
“Archaics 1150-470”
“Architecture – Topography of Athens”
“Attika – Karo”
“Dialects: Karo, Payne, Hill”
“KPHTH Summer School Program 1960”
“Northern Trip 1931”
“Notes on Sparta for Southern Trip 1931”
“O. Broneer North Slope (1934 or 1935)”
“Olympia / Attica”
“Prehistorics” (and) “Reading for ASCSA Exams 1932/3”
“R. Carpenter Lectures Winter 1931/2 Athens Acropolis Mouseion, Ethnikon Mouseion” (and) “Carpenter on
“Southern Trip 1931”

Notebook of “Elizabeth Dow”

Binder: “Mount Olympus Thessaly – Greece Notes and Correspondence (1913-1934)
(Correspondence, photographs, newspaper articles, bills and advertisements—not in chronological order—relating to the first known ascent of the highest peak of Mount Olympus by Fred Boissonas, a Geneva photographer, and Daniel Baud-Bovy. Francis P. Farquhar, a climber and member of the American Sierra Club, communicated with Boissonas about his own attempted ascent of Olympus with Dr. Aristides Phoutrides at about the same time as Boissonas’ ascent and requested permission to use Boissonas’ photographs in a book he was going to write about Mount Olympus.
      Note: This material would be of great interest to mountaineers and has as well some very interesting references to World War I. Only one reference to the American School was made in a letter written by Farquhar to Boissonas on 11 May 1918, “Dr. Phoutrides wrote me last fall that he had received word that a party including some American students at Athens had made the ascent of Olympus during the summer of 1917 . . . .” It is not known why this binder was included in the papers of Sterling Dow.

BOX 3: Sterling Dow’s Writings

Folder 1:  “The Agora: Past, 1966/67 and Future” (1967)
Folder 2:  “Argolid – Corinthia Trip” (1966) – notes, maps, sketches
Folder 3:  “ASCSA Suggestions for the Next Decade” (1967)
Folder 4:  “An Automated Lecture” (nd)
Folder 5:  “Commando and Other Special Operations in the Bronze Age and in Homer” Lecture at College
            Year in Athens (1967)
Folder 6:  “The Coup of 21 April 1967 in Greece: Excerpt from a letter by S. Dow to W. M. Canaday” (18
            August 1967)
Folder 7:  “The Foundation and its Principles” (1967)
Folder 8:  “The Handling of a Collection of Classical Off-prints” (1963-1965)
Folder 9:  “Harriet Boyd Hawes: Excavating and Theorizing” (nd)
Folder 10: Island Marble (nd)
Folder 11: “The Latin Calligraphy from Hawara” (nd)
Folder 12: “The Names of Sikyon” (nd)
Folder 13: “New Aspects of Classical Athens” Lecture at Rice Institute, Houston, Texas, 19 March 1965
Folder 14: “Northern Trip” (1966) – notes, maps, sketches
Folder 15: “Notes for the Study of the Archaic Grave Monuments” (nd)
Folder 16: “Report of the Annual Professor” (1966-1967)
Folder 17: “Review of Corinth: Results of Excavations: The Inscriptions, VIII:3, 1966 (nd)
Folder 18: “School Trips Winter” (1966/67)
Folder 19: “The Security of the Knosson Treasure” (nd)
Folder 20: “Six Athenian Sacrificial Calendars” (nd)
Folder 21: “Sounion Temple and other Attic Sites” (1966/67) – notes, maps, sketches
Folder 22: “Studies by Students at the ASCSA in 1966/67 (1967)
Folder 23: “The Supports of the Great Beam in the Erectheion” (nd)
Folder 24: “Tuesday Afternoon Talks at Loring Hall” (1967) – schedule, correspondence, notes from talks
Folder 25: Unidentified pages from draft(s) (nd)
Folder 26: “Visit to Mastores Marble Workshop” (1967)

BOX 4: Notebook and Photo Album

Notebook – Sterling Dow, ASCSA, Catalogue: Inscriptions (nd)
Photo Album – Unlabeled, undated (b/w snapshots of sites in Greece and ?)

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