History of the American School 1939-1980- Preface


Louis Eleazer Lord, Chairman of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens from 1939 to 1950, undertook as one of his services to the School during the years of World War II to write a record of its activities from the founding in 1881 through the end of his predecessor’s chairmanship in 1939. In his lists of publications and of personnel, he carried the record up through 1942 in the volume published by the School in 1947, A History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 1882–1942, An Intercollegiate Project. So useful has this account been to succeeding officials and members of the School that it was natural for the Publications Committee of the School to decide that as part of the celebration of the Centennial of the School in 1981 there should be a sequel which would deal with the years since 1939; the Managing Committee approved.

When I was asked to take on this assignment I demurred in the conviction that it should be carried out by one of the several officials who have played central roles in the activities of these forty-odd years; I was finally persuaded to make the requested attempt as I reflected that none of those persons would give themselves the proper credit due them for their benefactions to the School. It was also impossible to deny that I had in fact lived through nearly all these years fairly closely associated with the affairs of the School. The general plan of the volume was established after instructions from Mary E. White, then Chairman of the Publications Committee, and in consultation with her, namely the text was to record the years 1939–1980 and the lists of personnel and the illustrations were to span the full century 1881–1981, as a centennial record. These instructions I have attempted to follow as far as funds have permitted; it has unfortunately not been possible to include all the illustrative material originally envisaged, but what remains may serve to suggest the full range of the century.

The arrangement of the chapters follows that of Louis Lord with some changes. Time is divided by Chairmanships of the Managing Committee as in Lord’s volume, but within each division there are always two sections, the first dealing with what went on in Greece, the other with the activity of the Managing Committee, its committees and the Trustees in the United States. It has seemed better also to treat excavations as a whole rather than piecemeal in each year or five years or ten years. There are, therefore, separate chapters on Corinth, on the Athenian Agora and on Other Excavations where each is treated separately. The Summer Session also deserves individual separate handling as does the Gennadeion. Finally, since the publications of the School are as distinct a department of the School as the excavations, it has seemed reasonable to deal with them also in a separate chapter. Since reference is made to all activities in the Chairmanship chapters, some slight repetition is unavoidable, but the cross references to the more detailed chapters will guide readers, it is hoped, without too great confusion.

It is both the written records of the School and the memories of the principal actors in the drama that have provided the facts here set down. Minutes of the Board of Trustees and of the Managing Committee and Annual Reports of the officers and committees of the School have been augmented by the correspondence in the several Directors’ files in Athens, in the files of Charles H. Morgan, Chairman of the Managing Committee 1950–1960, and of the Field Director of the Athenian Agora 1946–1967, Homer A. Thompson. But these records were amplified and clarified by many talks with those involved in the proceedings. As in all similar cases, mention of every officer or member of the School who has, with characteristic American School helpfulness and friendliness, added his valuable reminiscence would be impossible, but I do happily record here my deep appreciation for their interest and their help. A few, however, must have the special mention of my enduring gratitude for their unfailing support and active assistance in various ways (I must list them alphabetically, these friends of a lifetime, many of them): Oscar Broneer, John L. Caskey, Mabel L. Lang, James R. McCredie, Benjamin D. Meritt, Charles H. Morgan, Henry S. Robinson, Richard Stillwell, Dorothy Burr Thompson, Homer A. Thompson, Eugene Vanderpool, Francis R. Walton, the late Mary E. White, Charles K. Williams, II. If their recollections are not correctly recorded, the responsibility is mine. Very particular thanks go to one who, though never formally enrolled as a member of the School, has for many years given of her time and energy and care to many of the “nuts and bolts” affairs of the School in ways that have eased the lives and work of those at the School; she has crowned that long devoted service with her patient typing of many of these pages—-Enid Bayan of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Finally let me say thank you to the Publications Committee for giving me the pleasure which has come from trying to draw together the facts and figures and the happy memories of so many of the American School family along with my own. May the second hundred years mean as much to its members as has the first century.
Lucy Shoe Meritt
Austin, Texas June 30, 1980

Technical problems of production have delayed the publication of this volume so long after the date intended, the Centennial of the School in June, 1981, that I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Editor, Marian Holland McAllister, for her imperturbable calm and patience through the difficulties as well as her meticulous and concerned hard work in the actual typesetting and much other thoughtful help for which I am grateful. It gives me further pleasure to record the gratitude of all in the School family to Mrs. D. J. Sibley for her generous contribution to the publication of this volume.
L. S. M.
December 1, 1983