Richard H. Howland Papers


Collection Number: GR ASCSA RH 034
Name (s) of Creator (s): Richard Hubbard Howland (1910-2006)
Title: Richard H. Howland Papers
Date [bulk]: 1933-1938
Date [inclusive]: 1933-1996
Language(s): English
Summary: The collection consists of papers relating to Howland's relationship with the ASCSA: letters to his family written while he was a student at the School in the 1930s and was also travelling in Europe; and photographs covering his student years in Greece (and some of his European travels). The Howland Photographic Collection (216 photos) has been digitized and is available through the Search Culture portal.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Gift of Richard Hubbard Howland, 2004; and Richard Hubbard Howland Estate, 2007.
Information about Access: The collection is available for research
Cite as: American School of Classical Studies at Athens,Archives, Richard Hubbard Howland Papers
Note: The collection was processed by Lizabeth Ward Papageorgiou in 2007.

For more information, please contact the Archives:
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
54 Souidias Street, Athens 106 76, Greece
phone: +30 213 000 2400 (ext. 425)
Contact via E-mail



Richard Hubbard Howland, architectural and art historian, was born 1910 in Providence, Rhode Island. He received his BA from Brown University (1931), an MA in art history from Harvard (1933), and a doctorate in classical archaeology from Johns Hopkins University (1946). He taught art history at Wellesley College (1939–1942) and at Johns Hopkins (1947–1956). During the war, he served in the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the CIA) in Washington, D.C. In 1956, he was appointed president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C.; when he was there, he convinced Paul Mellon to give one million dollars to the National Trust. In 1960, he became chairman of the department of civil history at the Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, and from 1968 until his retirement in 1985, he served as special assistant to Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley. While at the Smithsonian, he oversaw the restoration of the nineteenth-century Smithsonian Building, established a collection of Victorian furnishings for the Smithsonian Castle and inaugurated and led many Smithsonian study tours abroad.

Howland was an engaging lecturer and contributed articles to popular and scholarly publications; he wrote Greek Lamps and Their Survivals (Agora IV, 1958) and The Architecture of Baltimore (with Eleanor P. Spencer, 1953); he was instrumental in founding the Society of Architectural Historians, the American Committee of the International Commission on Historic Sites and Monuments, Society for the Preservation of Greek Antiquities, the Preservation Roundtable in Washington; he was president of the Washington branch of the English Speaking Union, a Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and Trustee of the AIA, where he endowed an annual lecture series; he led missions to Ethiopia and to Nepal to ensure the protection of their ancient monuments. Brown University awarded him an honorary LL.D. in 1958, Queen Elizabeth II honored him with the Order of the British Empire in 1991, he was decorated by the King of Greece in 1967 and in 1995 by the President of Greece.

Richard Howland’s association with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens began as a student when he was a Norton fellow from 1933 to 1938. The letters in this collection record his travels in Europe and his work in Greece during this period. He returned for the 1950–1951 session and during his time at the ASCSA he participated in excavations at Corinth and in Athens. From 1952, he was a member of the Managing Committee, then Chairman of the Managing Committee and Trustee from 1965 to 1975. As Chairman of the Managing Committee, Richard Howland showed a “deep devotion to the School and a willingness to give of his time and energy unstintingly.” He traveled often to Greece in order to keep in touch with the School and its personnel. “In the United States he struggled valiantly to give everyone associated with the School in any way a voice in its affairs; he was the impartial chairman who heard all petitions.” “A savvy negotiator, Dr. Howland arranged in 1974 for the gift of Clara Woolie Mayer’s New York City home together with an endowment of $50,000 to serve as headquarters for the ASCSA in the US. Some years later, he enabled the school to sell that property for $6 million to aid its relocation to Princeton, N.J.”

Richard Hubbard Howland, remembered by his friends and colleagues as “a debonair socialite,” a “consummate gentleman of the old school,” “a wonderful raconteur” and a successful fundraiser, died at the age of 96 on 24 October 2006.

(Sources: Lucy Shoe Meritt, A History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Princeton 1984; DACOR Bulletin, Vol. LVIV, December 2006 [ Bulletins /2006/December/December%20Bulletin.htm : accessed 2007]; Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb, “Richard Howland; Promoted Art, Architectural Preservation,” Washington Post, 3 November 2006.)


The ASCSA Archives received two lots of Richard H. Howland’s papers relating to his relationship with the ASCSA: in 2004, he donated his letters to his family written while he was a student at the school and travelling in Europe; some miscellaneous papers and his photographs from the time he was a student in Greece in the 1930s (and some of his European travels) were received from his estate in 2007. The photographs were digitized in 2015-2016 under an ESPA grant and are available in the Search Culture portal.



Folder 1: RHH’s Letters to his Family from France, Germany, Italy (August–September 1933)

Folder 2: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Greece (October–December 1933)

Folder 3: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Greece (1934)

Folder 4: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Greece (1935)

Folder 5: RHH’s Letters to his Family from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Greece (1935)

Folder 6: RHH’s Letters to Gladys Davidson [Weinberg] (1935)

Folder 7: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Greece, Turkey, Austria (1936)

Folder 8: RHH’s Letters to Gladys Davidson [Weinberg] (1936)

Folder 9: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Greece (1937)

Folder 10: RHH’s Letters to Gladys Davidson [Weinberg] (1937)

Folder 11: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Greece (1938)

Folder 12: RHH’s Letters to his Family from Europe (1930s)

Folder 13: RHH’s Correspondence (1950–1988)*

Folder 14: RHH’s Letters to his Family – Transcribed (1933–1935)

Folder 15: RHH’s Letters to his Family – Transcribed with editing notes (1933–1935)

Folder 16: RHH’s Letters to his Family – Transcribed excerpts relating to Corinth (1933–1934)

Folder 17: RHH’s Letters to his Family – Floppies of Transcripts (1933–1935)

*Letters from Patrick (Paddy) Leigh-Fermor, Edward Forbes, John Leatham, Mr. and Mrs. Kendrick Pritchett, ? Van Loom, and Barbara ?, Connie ?, Doreen ?, Florence ?, Michael ?, Rena, who worked for the British Royal Family, and the Athens Club.


Folder 1: RHH’s Diary of School Trips (1930s)*

Folder 2: Notes (and other material) on Visit to Mt. Athos with John Leatham (1954)

Folder 3: Notes on Visits to Aegina, Ionian Islands, Macedonia, Marathon, Navarino, Olympia (1988?)

Folder 4: Notes on Greek Sites (nd)

Folder 5: Notes on Modern Greece and Greeks (1950s)

Folder 6: Notes for Talks/Tours (nd)

Folder 7: “Jason and Argonauts” – Notes, Outline, Cassette of Story (nd)

Folder 8: Greek Songs (nd)

Folder 9: The Trireme Trust (nd)

Folder 10: “In Memory of Shan Sedgwick” by John Leatham (1996)

Folder 11: Tributes to Richard H. Howland (2006)

Folder 12: Miscellaneous

* Only a few pages of book filled with notes; some loose pages at back of book with sketches and notes


For an inventory of the photographs (e.g., places, people) see here. To access the photos, go to the Search Culture portal.