@Dumbarton Oaks

File 044 - Correspondence between the U.S. Department of State and the Byzantine Institute (e.g., Thomas Whittemore, Robert P. Blake, and Seth Gano)

Identity area

Reference code

DcWaDIC MS.BZ.004-01-01-03-044

Title

Correspondence between the U.S. Department of State and the Byzantine Institute (e.g., Thomas Whittemore, Robert P. Blake, and Seth Gano)

Date(s)

  • January – June 1950 (Creation)

Level of description

File

Extent and medium

1 folder

Context area

Name of creator

United States. Department of State (1789-present)

Administrative history

The U.S. State Department was established in 1789 to deal with the domestic affairs of a new United States. As the country became a world power around the turn of the last century, the State Department shifted its focus to the management of foreign affairs.

The many global conflicts of the twentieth century increased the Department's size and commitments. An act of Congress in 1924 created a unified and professional Foreign Service, and overseas embassies and consular buildings began construction in 1924.

The Department was again overhauled after WWII to accommodate the U.S.'s new role in the world, though it was no longer the sole agency responsible for foreign policy. Today, the mission of the State Department is to "create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community."

Name of creator

Byzantine Institute, Inc. (1930-1962)

Administrative history

The Byzantine Institute (commonly known as the Byzantine Institute of America) was founded by Thomas Whittemore in 1930. On May 23, 1934, the Byzantine Institute officially became the Byzantine Institute, Inc. when it was issued a charter from the State of Massachusetts. Its mission was to conserve, restore, study, and document the Byzantine monuments, sites, architecture, and arts in the former Byzantine Empire. The first official project undertaken by the Institute was the examination and documentation of wall paintings at the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, which occurred between 1929 and 1931. By capturing select Byzantine iconography from the walls of St. Anthony and St. Paul, Vladimir Netchetailov produced oversize watercolor paintings of saints (Saints George, Mercurius, and Theodore Strateletes) and religious scenes (The Resurrection and Deësis).

In June 1931, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Turkey, permitted Whittemore and the Byzantine Institute to uncover and restore the original mosaics in Hagia Sophia, which had been covered in Islamic motifs when the church was converted into a mosque in 1453 by the Ottoman Turks. With approval from the Turkish government, the Institute began the conservation and restoration campaign in December 1931. While fieldwork primarily focused on sites within Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii, conservation efforts were also expanded to Cyprus and present-day Macedonia.

In June 1950, Thomas Whittemore, founder of the Byzantine Institute, died while en route to the State Department office of John Foster Dulles. Subsequently, Paul Atkins Underwood was appointed as the Fieldwork Director of the Byzantine Institute, a position he held until his death on September 22, 1968. While this marked a transition period for the Institute, Underwood assumed the oversight of repair and restoration in Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii. These endeavors resulted in the uncovering of the 7th century pavement in the Church of the Pantocrator (Molla Zeyrek Camii), the restoration of mosaics in Fethiye Camii (Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos), and finally the repair work in Fenari Isa (Lips Monastery). The projects also led to several publications, such as The mosaics of Hagia Sophia at Istanbul, the portrait of the Emperor Alexander: a report on the work done by the Byzantine Institute in 1959 and 1960 by Paul A. Underwood and Ernest J. W. Hawkins. Because of insufficient funding, the Byzantine Institute officially terminated its administrative and fieldwork operations in 1962 and transferred its assets to Dumbarton Oaks. In January of 1963, Dumbarton Oaks and the trustees of Harvard University assumed all fieldwork activities formerly initiated by the Institute. Dumbarton Oaks directed and sponsored new fieldwork projects in Turkey (Church of St. Polyeuktos), Cyprus (Church of the Panagia Amasgou at Monagri), Syria (Dibsi Faraj), and present-day Macedonia (Bargala).

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Relates to Joseph C. Grew’s involvement with the conservation and restoration of Hagia Sophia, Whittemore’s death, and the plan to continue the Byzantine Institute fieldwork projects.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area

Note

Box 4 contains correspondence documenting the transition of the Byzantine Institute upon the death of Thomas Whittemore and Paul Underwood’s appointment as the new Field Director.

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Status

Level of detail

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

Rights area

Related right

The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. late 1920s-2000s

Act

Research

Restriction

Allow

Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Preferred citation: The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. late 1920s-2000s, MS.BZ.004, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

Basis

Policy

Related right

The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. late 1920s-2000s

Act

Publish

Restriction

Allow

Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Copyright for Byzantine Institute materials belong to Dumbarton Oaks. However, permission to publish materials created by other correspondents must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Basis

Copyright

Copyright status

Under copyright

Copyright status date

Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Physical storage

  • Box: MS.BZ.004, Subgroup 01, Box 004