@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection MS.BZ.018 - Dumbarton Oaks Research Archive, ca. 1940s

Identity area

Reference code



Dumbarton Oaks Research Archive, ca. 1940s


  • ca. 1940s (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

60 boxes of photographs and research notes

Context area

Name of creator

Dumbarton Oaks (1940-Present)

Administrative history

Robert and Mildred Bliss retired to their Georgetown home, Dumbarton Oaks, in 1933. They began adding to their already extensive collection of artwork and reference books, anticipating the creation of a research institute. In 1940, the Blisses gave their property to Harvard University, creating Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

"Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington, DC, administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships and internships, meetings, and exhibitions. Located in residential Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books, objects, images, and documents. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts. The institute disseminates knowledge through its own publications (such as Dumbarton Oaks Papers and symposium volumes) as well as through the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (published by Harvard University Press). Dumbarton Oaks also makes accessible ever more of its resources freely online." -http://www.doaks.org/about

Among its many other activities, in January of 1963, Dumbarton Oaks and the trustees of Harvard University assumed all fieldwork activities formerly initiated by the Byzantine Institute. The Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork committee 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).

Name of creator

Koehler, Wilhelm (1884-1959)

Biographical history

When Henri Focillon's appointment as Research Fellow in Residence expired (1940-1941), Wilhelm Koehler (Köhler before 1932) was appointed "Senior Fellow in charge of Research" at Dumbarton Oaks from 1941-1943. He supervised the two research projects—"Fontes" and "Archives of Byzantine Art" (also, "Archives" or "Research Archives")—in the academic years of 1941-1942, 1942-1943, and 1943-1944.

Name of creator

Friend, Albert Mathias, Jr. (1894-1956)

Biographical history

Albert M. Friend, Jr., was born in 1894 and died on March 23, 1956, in New Jersey. He attended Princeton University as an undergraduate in 1911 and as a graduate student in 1915. During the First World War, Friend served with the American Expeditionary Force in France in 1918. After his war service, he went back to Princeton University to continue his graduate studies. In 1921, Friend was appointed instructor, and in 1946 a professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology, succeeding Charles Rufus Morey as Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology. At Dumbarton Oaks, he was appointed Senior Scholar in Residence (also known as the Henri Focillon Scholar) and was in charge of the research program ("Fontes" and "Archives of Byzantine Art," also known as "Archives" or "Research Archives") starting in the academic year of 1944-1945. In the same academic year, he initiated a project to reconstruct or visualize the lost church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. In this endeavor, he was joined by Paul Underwood and Glanville Downey. During the 1948 Dumbarton Oaks symposium, “The Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople,” he presented a paper entitled “The Mosaics of Basil I in the Holy Apostles, Parts I and II.” Friend’s other appointments in Dumbarton Oaks include: Chairman of the Board of Scholars (1946-1947) and Henri Focillon Visiting Scholar in Charge of Research (1947-1948). He was also the first Director of Studies from 1948 to 1954.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The original materials were compiled by the Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellows, starting in the academic year of 1941-1942. An additional three (3) boxes relating to North Africa (Algeria and Tunisia) were found within the collection, The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers (MS.BZ.004); the North Africa boxes were removed from the aforementioned collection in February 2011 and added to the present collection.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

In the academic year of 1941-1942, Dumbarton Oaks initiated two research projects (or a research program)—"Fontes" and "Archives of Byzantine Art" (also known as "Archives" or "Research Archives")—that was initially supervised by Wilhelm Koehler (1941-1943) and followed by other renowned scholars, and carried out by Junior Fellows (see the list below).

The aim was to create an inventory of Early Christian and Byzantine monuments by compiling bibliographic information and photographic reproductions for each site. The goal of the Research Archive was to gather in one place all available documentation from extant publications and make this resource available to all scholars. Koehler, as Senior Fellow in charge of Research, supervised the work of Junior Fellows. Each Junior Fellow was assigned a geographic region and was responsible for surveying and documenting all the monuments within that area. For example, in 1941-1942, the assignments were, as follows: North Africa - Donald F. Brown; Balkans - Ernst Kitzinger; Italy - Herbert Bloch; Anatolia - Mary E. Crane; and Syria and Palestine - Andrew S. Keck.

The resulting collection consists of photographs and prints, along with accompanying notes from the Junior Fellow's individual findings. Geographic coverage includes: Algeria, Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Syria, Transjordan, Tunisia, Turkey, (former) Yugoslavia.

List of participants:

Academic Year 1941-1942:

  • Research program supervisor: Wilhelm Koehler
  • Junior Fellows for the "Fontes:" Paul Alexander and Milton V. Anastos
  • Junior Fellows for the "Archives:" Franklin M. Biebel (second half of the academic year), Herbert Bloch, Donald F. Brown, Mary E. Crane, Florence E. Day, Andrew S. Keck, and Ernst Kitzinger

Academic Year 1942-1943:

  • Research program supervisor: Wilhelm Koehler
  • "Fontes" supervisor: Robert Blake
  • Junior Fellows for the "Fontes:" Deferred due to the Second World War
  • Junior Fellows for the "Archives:" Continued to contribute toward the war effort

Academic Year 1943-1944:

  • General research program supervisors: Edward Kennard Rand and George La Piana
  • "Archives" supervisor: Wilhelm Koehler

Academic Year 1944-1945:

  • Research program supervisor: Albert M. Friend, Jr.

Academic Year 1945-1946:

  • Research program supervisor: Albert M. Friend, Jr.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged roughly in alphabetical order by region (Aegean Islands, Anatolia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, North Africa, Palestine, Sicily, Sinai, Transjordan, Yugoslavia), and then geographically by area, city, and site.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

For more information or for access to the collection, consult ICFA staff.

Conditions governing reproduction

Photographs are for research and study purposes only.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



Level of detail





  • Dumbarton Oaks Annual Report, 1941-1942, p. 2-3, 7.
  • Dumbarton Oaks Annual Report, 1942-1943, p. 1.
  • Dumbarton Oaks Annual Report, 1943-1944, p. 2.
  • Wilhelm R. W. Koehler, "Proposed Programme for Research at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection," Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum 9, no. 4 (March 1941): 81-84.
  • Wilhelm R. W. Koehler, "News Reports: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C.," College Art Journal 1, no. 2 (January 1942): 34-36.

Archivist's note

Initially processed by former ICFA Curator Gerrianne Schaad, former Archives Assistant Laura Bang, and former intern Jackie Meyers, Intern (ca. 2008-2010).

Rights area

Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Dumbarton Oaks Research Archive, ca. 1940s, MS.BZ.018, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Photographs are for research and study purposes only.



Copyright status

Under copyright

Copyright status date

Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Digital object metadata



Media type





197.6 KiB


October 21, 2016 1:16 PM

Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area