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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 534: DVD-4

Papers of Theresa Goell, 1906-2005


Personal papers of archeologist Theresa Goell. Some professional papers and Goell family papers are also included.


  • Creation: 1906-2005

Language of Materials

Materials in English, Turkish, French, German, and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted, except that #17.14 is closed until January 1, 2050. Individual items throughout the collection are closed as noted to protect personal privacy.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers of Theresa Goell is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


25.52 linear feet ((58 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 3 folio+ folders, 18 photograph folders, 2 folio photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 DVD)

This collection documents the personal and professional life of Theresa Goell. The bulk of the collection is comprised of correspondence, including extensive correspondence between members of the Goell family and Goell's correspondence with friends and colleagues. The collection also contains financial and medical records, consisting of bills, annotated bank statements, cancelled checks and check registers; clippings, address and appointment books; material pertaining to Goell's education and her interior design and archeological activities; professional papers written or co-written by her and photographs. Languages represented include Turkish, French, German, Hebrew, and Greek. The bulk of the arrangement and folder headings were created by the processor; original folder headings, when used, appear in quotation marks. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as parts of the documents they accompany. A significant number of receipts, bank statements, and student notes were weeded from the collection. When the collection first arrived at the Schlesinger Library, papers were sorted and the bulk of Goell's archeological materials were sent to Harvard University's Semitic Museum.

Additional material received in 2006 and 2007 (accession numbers 2006-M205 and 2007-M117) was added to the collection in August 2015. These materials are housed in #52.1-59.10 and 50FB.2 and maintained in a separate series. Some overlap exists between this series and the earlier material.

Series I, FAMILY PAPERS, 1920-1984, n.d. (#1.1-11.10), consists primarily of correspondence among the extended Goell family, including Goell's brothers Milton and Kermit; sisters Eve (Goell) Godfrey (changed from Gottfried) and Fay (Goell) Finkle (later, Fay London); and cousin Ida (Goell) Goodman. Additional correspondents include Milton Goell's wife Amy and children James and Martha; Kermit Goell's third wife Inka and children Julie and Jon; Fay London's sons Harvey and Stephen; and Eve Godfrey's daughters Ellen and Harriet. Also included is correspondence with Goell's mother Mary; husband Cyrus Levinthal; son Jay Levinthal; and Jay Levinthal's first and second wives, Betty and Rachel. The series is arranged in two groupings, with general files of family correspondence followed by letters from, and correspondence with, individual family members. Considerable overlap exists between the two groupings. Much of the correspondence dating from 1929 to 1932 addresses Theresa Goell's separation, and subsequent divorce, from Cyrus Levinthal, and the Goell family's reactions. Other topics include Goell's work and the work and activities of other members of the family, the health of family members, maintenance of a family home in Hunter, New York, financial transactions, plans for visits, and familial relationships. In addition to correspondence, the series includes certificates, papers related to the family's finances, and a travel diary belonging to Ida Goodman. Unless otherwise noted, folders consist of correspondence with Theresa Goell. The series is arranged alphabetically by family member.

Series II, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1928-1986, 2005, n.d. (#11.11-21.15, 51.1-51.8, DVD-4), consists of the four subseries described below.

Subseries A, Biographical, 1928-1986, 2005, n.d. (#11.11-12.8, DVD-4), includes Goell's curricula vitae, and transcripts of oral histories and interviews, as well as some other items providing information about her life. The subseries includes a DVD of Queen of the Mountain, a film about Goell made by her niece, Martha Lubell. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Personal, 1928-1986, n.d. (#12.9-15.15), consists of passports and other materials related to Goell's extensive travels, several folders dealing with problems with her apartment, drafts of her will, materials related to her estate, address and appointment books, etc. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Medical, 1939-1986, n.d. (#15.16-17.15), consists primarily of bills for doctor's visits and thus documents Goell's frequent medical difficulties. Included are bills from Staff Builders', who provided home medical assistance late in her life; bills and correspondence from Sonotone Corporation and other materials related to her attempts to supplement her hearing loss; and correspondence and bills related to an illness she suffered while in Germany working on the final Nemrut Daği report and her subsequent care at a nursing home in Florida. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Education, 1928-1969, n.d. (#18.1-21.14, 51.1-51.8), consists of notes and drawings for classes taken at Radcliffe College, Cambridge University, and Columbia University, as well as some notes and papers for classes at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, notes from a drafting class, and correspondence regarding scholarships and Goell's degree status. The series is arranged by educational institution, followed by the scholarship and degree status material, and some annotated prints.

Series III, FINANCIAL, 1922-1985, n.d. (#21.15-26.7), documents Goell's personal and professional expenses, with the exception of costs incurred in her home decorating business (see #44.4-44.6). The series consists of the two subseries described below.

Subseries A, General, 1922-1984, n.d. (#21.15-23.12), includes receipts, correspondence, and banking records documenting Goell's expenditures and financial transactions between 1922 and 1985. Included are receipts for Jacob Goell's expenses for Goell's wedding reception, bills for stays at a Turkish hotel, tax returns, and income and expense lists. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Banking. 1926-1985, n.d. (#23.13-26.7), consists of check registers and those cancelled checks for which there is no register. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series IV, CORRESPONDENCE, 1918?-1986, n.d. (#26.8-44.1), is arranged in the following two subseries. Some correspondence is in French, German and Turkish.

Subseries A, Alphabetical, 1921-1986, n.d. (#26.8-36.14), consists of correspondence with friends and colleagues and provides an interesting look at Goell's activities and feelings and her willingness to offer advice to people interested in archeology, and to provide guidance and financial assistance to her associates. Included are letters to Goell from Jay Levinthal's childhood nurse (#33.14, 35.4), describing his activities. The subseries also offers a sense of Goell's frequent travels and wide range of acquaintances, as it includes letters from London, New York, Germany and France, and Turkey. There is some overlap with Subseries B.

Subseries B, General, 1918?-1986, n.d. (#36.15-44.1), also consists of correspondence with friends and professional acquaintances. Topics include Goell's health and social and professional activities, as well as practical arrangements, such as the handling of her mail during her frequent travels. The activities and difficulties of her correspondents are also detailed. The subseries overlaps with Subseries A and is arranged chronologically.

Series V, PROFESSIONAL, 1918-1994, n.d. (#44.2-49.14), consists of two subseries.

Subseries A, Interior design and architecture, 1929-1938, n.d. (#44.2-45.6), describes Goell's work at Hearns' Department Stores and in Palestine, as well as providing information about the home decorating business she ran in New York. It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Archeology, 1918-1994, n.d. (#45.7-49.14), relates primarily to the work Goell undertook at Nemrut Daği and Samosata. Also included is some material on related projects, such as John Yarborough and Robert Perry's explorations of the Euphrates River, and papers on the work Friedrich Karl Dörner conducted, with Goell's collaboration, at Arsameia-on-the-Nymphaios River, the sanctuary of Antiochus I's father. The subseries also contains publicity for lectures by Goell and her brother Kermit, who acted as photographer at Nemrut Daği, articles and papers written or co-written by Goell, and correspondence with the Archaeology Society of Staten Island, which provided funding for work at Samosata. The subseries is arranged with folders pertaining to Goell's early archeological work at Jerash (#45.7) and Tarsus (#45.8-45.10) followed by material on Nemrut Daği (#45.11-48.1) and Samosata (#48.2-48.11), and finally, by miscellaneous folders (#48.12-49.14), including a pot restoration project at the Brooklyn Museum and correspondence with the American Bible Society, which Goell supplied with photographs.

Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1906-1982, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.21), consists largely of photographs of Goell and the Goell family, with some photographs of friends and professional associates, such as Friedrich Karl Dörner. The series is arranged with photographs of Goell appearing first, followed by photographs of family and friends, photographs of interior design displays and drawings by Goell, a racehorse named Nemrud Dagh owned by her brother-in-law, photographs removed from elsewhere in the collection, and negatives.

Series VII, OVERSIZE, 1927, n.d. (#50FB.1, F+D.1-F+D.3), consists of oversize items from Series I-V. Items include certificates awarded to Jacob and Mary Goell, sketches, a poster with images of Nemrut Daği, and a scrapbook.

Series VIII, ADDENDA, 1920-2003, n.d. (#52.1-59.10, 50FB.2), includes Goell's correspondence with family members, including her mother, brothers, sisters, son, nephew, and nieces. Topics include Goell's archeological work, in which she was often assisted by her brother Kermit; her son Jay Levinthal's military service during World War II, and the work, health, and activities of other members of the family, with Goell's correspondence with Kermit and Inka Goell addressing their temporary separation in 1972 and Goell's feelings about their relationship. The series also includes the separation agreement and divorce decree from Goell's marriage to Cyrus Levinthal; passports; financial and medical documents, including Goell's Social Security card; and a Turkish lesson book. Also included are correspondence with friends and colleagues, including condolence letters received by Kermit Goell after Theresa Goell's death; drafts of papers by Goell and notes on her archeological work; and correspondence regarding Kermit Goell's efforts to have the report on Nemrut Daği completed and published. Of particular note is the material related to Goell's attendence at the Second Conference on the Jewish Question, held by the International Student Service in Switzerland in 1931. Some of the material in the series was annotated by Martha Goell Lubell or Pat Council when researching the film Queen of the Mountain and some folder headings, which appear in quotation marks, were apparently created by them. The series arrangement mirrors that of the earlier series, with family correspondence appearing first, followed by biographical and personal material, correspondence, and professional material. Some photocopied material in this series may duplicate original materials in the earlier series.


Theresa Bathsheba Goell, the second of five children of Jacob and Mary Samowitz Goell, was born in New York City on July 17, 1901. She entered Syracuse University in 1919 and transferred to Radcliffe College in 1921, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in the class of 1923 (February 1924), with a degree in philosophy and social ethics. While at Radcliffe, she experienced partial hearing loss, diagnosed as otosclerosis; she compensated for this by lip reading and by the use of hearing aids. In 1922, she married Cyrus Levinthal and had one son, Jay, born in New York in 1925. Following her graduation from Radcliffe, Goell accompanied Levinthal to England, where they both studied at Cambridge University, with Goell receiving the equivalent of a B.A. in architecture. Her interest in archeological field work began here, with her studies under Theodore Fyfe, who had been active in archeological work in Crete. She and Levinthal separated in the late 1920s and divorced in 1932, with Goell receiving custody of Jay. Due to her frequent travels, he was largely raised by the extended Goell family.

In 1929, Goell opened an interior design and decorating business in New York City, and in 1933, she began working as an architectural assistant for the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem and Gerasam Trans-Jordan. An ardent Zionist, she also undertook some home design and decoration in Palestine during this time. In 1934, she went to Jerash, Jordan, as an architectural assistant to the American Schools-Yale University Joint Expedition; her duties included making measured drawings and plans of architectural details and buildings of the Hellenisitic and Byzantine periods. She returned to New York in 1935 and over the next ten years undertook a variety of jobs, including interior design and display work for Hearns Department Stores and restoration work at the Brooklyn Museum. During World War II, she did drafting work for Bruce Engineering Company and Jefferson-Travis Radio Manufacturing Corporation, contractors in the Brooklyn Navy Yard; she was the first woman hired in this capacity and her success opened the field to other women. During this ten-year period, she also attended classes at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, studying mechanical and life drawing and the interior design and furniture of different architectural periods, and at Columbia University and New York University's Graduate Institute of Fine Arts. Professor Hartley Lehman at New York University suggested she look into the little-studied monuments at Mt. Nimrud on the Anatolian plateau of southeastern Turkey; this led to her life-long work in excavating the site known variously as Nemrud Dagh, Nemrud Dagi, and Nemrut Daği.

Goell undertook her first professional archeological field work between 1946 and 1953, acting at Tarsus, Turkey, as assistant to Professor Hetty Goldman of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She stayed at the site until 1950, serving as acting director during Goldman's illness, and then went to Princeton to assist in writing the project's final reports. Her first journey to Mt. Nimrud was in 1947; she was the first American woman to visit the area, and had to travel to the summit by donkey. She began excavations there in 1953. At this time little was known about the site; it had been considered Hellenistic, but Goell believed that the monuments also reflected a significant degree of influence by the Hittites, as well as by many other cultures, including Persian, Babylonian, and old Anatolian. After a somewhat troubled collaboration with Professor Friedrich Karl Dörner of Münster University, she became director of the excavation in 1956. During her many years at Nemrud Daği, she sought to locate the tomb of King Antiochus I (64-32 B.C.), who ruled when the Kingdom of Commagene, on the west side of the Euphrates River, was a buffer state between the Roman and Parthian empires.

The American Schools of Oriental Research, the Bollingen Foundation, and the National Geographic Society all provided financial support to the excavation at various times, and Goell's brother Kermit assisted in the excavation. In 1964, Goell postponed work on the Nemrut Daği final report and instituted an intensive digging program at Samosata, the capital city of Antiochus I, hoping to locate the palace and public buildings of Commagene before a damming project rendered the area inaccessible. From 1964 to 1973, she divided her efforts between Samosata and a reconstruction at Nemrut Daği, reaching the Islamic and Saljuk layers of the Samosata mound. (The Archaeology Society of Staten Island provided funding for this project.) She then suffered a series of illnesses and could not pursue the Samosata work. A permit to continue the digging was eventually awarded elsewhere, and Goell concentrated on completing the Nemrut Daği final report. She continued this work, despite various health problems, until she suffered a stroke in 1983. Kermit Goell undertook to get the report completed, and Goell's sister, Eva (known as Eve) Godfrey, established a fund for this purpose. The completed two-volume report, Nemrud Dagi: The Hierothesion of Antiochus I of Commagene: Results of the American Excavations Directed by Theresa B. Goell, written by Donald Sanders, was published in 1996.

Goell was elected to the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut in Berlin in 1963. Her other professional memberships included the Archaeological Institute of America, the American Oriental Society, and the American-Turkish Society. In 1973, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, the Cultural Ministry of Turkey awarded her a citation in recognition of her contributions to Turkish history, culture, and art. Goell died in New York City on December 18, 1985, after a long illness. In 1990, she was awarded a posthumous master's degree from New York University, and in 2005, her niece Martha Goell Lubell, the daughter of Goell's brother Milton, produced and directed a documentary about Goell and Nemrut Daği, titled Queen of the Mountain.


The collection is arranged in eight series:

  1. Series I. Family papers, 1920-1984, n .d. (#1.1-11.10)
  2. Series II. Biographical and personal, 1928-1986, 2005, n.d. (#11.11-21.15, 51.1-51.8, DVD-4)
  3. Series III. Financial, 1922-1985, n.d. (#21.15-26.7)
  4. Series IV. Correspondence, 1918?-1986, n.d. (#26.8-44.1)
  5. Series V. Professional, 1918-1994, n.d. (#44.2-49.14)
  6. Series VI. Photographs, 1906-1982 (#PD.1-PD.21)
  7. Series VII. Oversize, 1927, n.d. (#50FB.1, F+D.1-F+D.3)
  8. Series VIII. Addenda, 1920-2003 (#52.1-59.10, 50FB.2)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 86-M134, 89-M178, 93-M33, 97-M114, 98-M108, 2006-M41. Accession numbers 2006-M205 and 2007-M117 were added in August 2015.

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Kermit Goell and, on his behalf, Julie Goell, between July 1986 and June 1998, with additional donations by Martha Lubell in February and November 2006 and the Harvard Semitic Museum in June 2007.


Donors: Kermit Goell

Accession number: 86-M134

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book Sale.

  1. Blackburn, William. The Architecture of Duke University. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1939
  2. Mau, August. Führer durch Pompeji. Neapel: F. Furchheim, 1893

Processing Information

Processed: August 2006

By: Susan Earle

Updated and additional materials added August 2015

By: Susan Earle with assistance from Dan Bullman

Goell, Theresa. Papers of Theresa Goell, 1906-2005: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Edward, Frances and Shirley B. Daniels Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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