- circa 1875-1966
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
In the 1910s and 1920s, Whittemore became involved in expeditions and excavation projects in Egypt and Bulgaria. In January 1911, Whittemore joined a British archaeological expedition in Egypt under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society [or Egypt Exploration Fund]. Based on the letters between Whittemore and Isabella Stewart Gardner, Whittemore was in Egypt in the 1910s, where he helped other archaeologists discover pre-dynastic treasures such as, kilns and “the long sought IV-V dynasty cemetery at Abydos.” In between excavation seasons, Whittemore devoted his time to humanitarian work in Bulgaria, Russia, and Paris, particularly during and after the Russian Revolution in 1917. He was an active member of the Committee for the Relief of War Refugees in Russia and the Society for Relief Work among the Orphan Children of Russia. “The goal of the organization[s were] to educate the most promising young Russians in the arts and sciences such that they could help rebuild their country.” Whittemore also travelled to Mount Athos, Greece, in 1923 with George D. Pratt, where he and Pratt delivered food and supplies to the Russian and Bulgarian monks that became impoverished after the Russian Revolution.
In the 1930s, Whittemore changed his direction and focused on the conservation and restoration of Byzantine monuments, art, and architecture in Turkey and other areas of the former Byzantine Empire. In 1930, he founded the Byzantine Institute, a non-profit organization, with the full support of several committee members, such as John Nicholas Brown, Charles R. Crane, Charles R. Morey, Matthew Prichard, George D. Pratt, John Shapley, and others. In 1931, Whittemore and the Byzantine Institute were given permission to conserve and restore the original mosaics of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, ?smet ?nönü, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Economy. As the Director of the Byzantine Institute, Whittemore carried out the negotiations with government officials in Turkey, obtained work permits, recruited skilled fieldworkers, organized fundraising events, managed the Byzantine Institute staff, and delivered fieldwork supplies from/to the various sites.
On June 8, 1950, Whittemore suffered a heart attack while on his way to a meeting in the office of John Foster Dulles, then special advisor to the Secretary of State, in Washington, D.C. He died at the age of 79 and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA.
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Existence and Location of Copies
- Fedorchenko, Sofia. Ivan Speaks. Translated from the Russian by Thomas Whittemore. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919.
- Whittemore, Thomas. “The Rebirth of Religion in Russia: The Church Reorganized While Bolshevik Cannon Spread Destruction in the Nation’s Holy of Holies.” The National Geographic Magazine 34, no. 5 (November 1918): 378-401.
- Whittemore, Thomas, ed. Post Liminium: Essays and Critical Papers by Lionel Johnson. London: E. Matthews, 1911 and New York: M. Kennerley, 1912.
- Constable, Giles. “Dumbarton Oaks and Byzantine Fieldwork.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 37 (1983): 171-176.
- Klein, Holger A. “The Elusive Mr. Whittemore: The Early Years 1871-1916 - Tarifi Zor Bay Whittemore: Erken Dönem, 1871-1916.” In Kariye Camii Yeniden - The Kariye Camii Reconsidered, edited by Holger A. Klein, Robert G. Ousterhout, and Brigitte Pitarakis, 451-480. Istanbul: Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 2011. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/arthistory/faculty/Klein/Offprint-Kariye-Camii-Reconsidered.pdf.
- Klein, Holger A, ed. Restoring Byzantium: The Kariye Camii in Istanbul and the Byzantine Institute Restoration. New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 2004.
- Labrusse, Rémi and Nadia Podzemskaia. “Naissance d'une vocation: aux sources de la carrière byzantine de Thomas Whittemore.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 54 (2000): 43-69.
- Lord, Louis E. A History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1882-1942. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1947.
- MacDonald, William L. "Whittemore, Thomas." Entry in Dictionary of American Biography, suppl. 4, 1946-1950, 890-91. New York: Scribner, 1974.
- Major, Ben. “‘The Socialite Archaeologist’ Thomas Whittemore (1871-1950) and the roles of patronage, politics, and personal connections in cultural heritage preservation.” B.A. thesis, History Department, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2010. http://history.rutgers.edu/honors-papers-2009/doc_download/209-the-socialite-archaeologist.
- Nelson, Robert S. Hagia Sophia, 1850-1950: Holy Wisdom Modern Monument. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
- Sorenson, Lee. “Whittemore, Thomas.” Dictionary of Art Historians. http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/whittemoret.htm.
- Teteriatnikov, Natalia. Mosaics of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul: The Fossati Restoration and the Work of the Byzantine Institute. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1998. http://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/doaks-online-publications/mosaics-of-hagia-sophia/sophia.pdf.
- Folder 1: Document/Item Removal Forms
- Folder 2: Copies of letters between Isabella Stewart Gardner and Thomas Whittemore, from microfilm housed at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
- Folder 3: Articles and copies of archival materials from other repositories, Folder 1 of 2
- Folder 4: Articles and copies of archival materials from other repositories, Folder 2 of 2, Includes a copy of "Thomas Whittemore: An Evocation"
- Whittemore, Thomas. Thomas Whittemore papers, circa 1875-1966: Finding Aid
- Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Dumbarton Oaks ICFA Repository
With more than a million unique and historical items, archival collections in ICFA represent the three areas of study supported by Dumbarton Oaks: Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape. Collections are generally comprised of administrative records, fieldwork papers, photographic prints, negatives, slides, oversize drawings, and moving images. Appointments are available Monday to Friday from 9:30am-12pm and 1-4:40pm (excpet Federal Holidays).
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