Dorothy Burr Thompson Papers


Collection Number: GR ASCSA  DBT 071
Name(s) of Creator(s): Dorothy Burr Thompson (1900-2001)
Title: Dorothy Burr Thompson Papers
Date [bulk]: 1939-1995
Date [inclusive]: 1922-1995
Language(s): English
Summary: This small collection contains Dorothy Burr Thompson's correspondence after WW II until the early 1990s, working notes, honors, biographical notes, three boxes of catalog cards of terracottas, and embroideries. For access to the Dorothy Burr Thompson Photographic Collection (3,195 photos), please go to Photographic Collections.
Quantity: 1.70 linear meters (without the photographic collection and the embroideries collection)
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Dorothy Burr Thompson, 1989-1990 (the photographic collection); Pamela Thomspon Todd, 2002, 2008, 2011
Information about Access: The collection is available for research
Cite as: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Archives, Dorothy Burr Thompson Papers (Αμερικανική Σχολή Κλασικών Σπουδών στην Αθήνα, Αρχείο Dorothy Burr Thompson)
Notes: The collection was processed by Lizabeth Ward Papageorgiou.

For more information, please contact the Archives:
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
54 Souidias Street
Athens 106 76
Contact via E-mail


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



Folder 1: Correspondence with ASCSA (1976-1981)
Poem written by Dorothy B. Thompson for her husband, Homer A. Thompson, on their 50th anniversary (1984)
Re-publication of Dorothy B. Thompson’s book, Swans and Amber (1988)
Articles about Dorothy B. Thompson in Archaeology (1991), The Greek American, and “The Coroplast’s Art”, an exhibition (1991)
Completion of Dorothy B. Thompson’s terracotta manuscript with the assistance of Margaret Rothman (1991-2000)
Appraisal and donation of Dorothy B. Thompson’s textile collection to ASCSA (photographs and correspondence with Catherine Vanderpool and textile restorer company) (1999)

Folder 2: Dorothy B. Thompson’s obituary (2001)
Dorothy B. Thompson’s Memorial Service on 6 October 2001: correspondence about
Dorothy B. Thompson’s Memorial Service on 6 October 2001: planning the program, invitations, list of invitees, the printed program, speeches at the service (one by Lucy T. Shoe Meritt), CD-ROM of the service, floppy titled “Burr”
Estate of Dorothy B. Thompson (2001-2002)


The collection includes 3,176 photos and negatives covering the period 1923–1960, includes images from Thompson’s travels in Greece, Turkey and Italy. In addition to the archaeological information, some of which has been lost or forgotten, the collection is a mosaic of information about architecture, landscapes and customs that no longer exist. The Dorothy Burr Thompson Collection  which was digitized in 2008 (Operational Program "Information Society" of the 3rd Community Support Frammework, Invitation 161. Measure 1.3) is accessible here.


The Homer and DorothyThompson collection of 55 textiles, which was donated to the ASCSA in 1999, contains slippers, bed tent panels and covers, towels, belts, a prayer kilim, bags and napkins, and dates from the early 19th to the mid 20th centuries.