@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection PH.BZ.002 - William Earl Betsch Photographs of Architectural Capitals in Istanbul, 1970

Identity area

Reference code



William Earl Betsch Photographs of Architectural Capitals in Istanbul, 1970


  • 1970 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

55 rolls of negatives
1 notebook

Context area

Name of creator

Betsch, William Earl (born 1939)

Biographical history

William Earl Betsch was born in East Orange, New Jersey on May 27, 1939. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1963. Afterwards, he studied under Richard Krautheimer at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University (NYU). His Master’s thesis was entitled “Opus Sectile Pavements in the Early Christian Churches of Greece.” Betsch received a Master of Arts degree in Early Christian, Medieval, and Byzantine Art from NYU and continued his graduate work in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Supervised by Cecil Lee Striker, Betsch’s original project was to establish the chronology of the cisterns of Constantinople and determine the terminus ante quem for the capitals used in the cisterns. In 1970, he undertook a survey project in Istanbul for his dissertation research. While completing his survey project, he expanded the scope of his dissertation to the various stages of production, uses and re-uses, and impact of architectural capitals as an industry in Constantinople from the fourth through the sixth centuries CE. Betsch’s dissertation was entitled “The History, Production and Distribution of the Late Antique Capital in Constantinople” and was never published. Betsch completed his dissertation in 1977 and obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Roman and Byzantine Art.

Betsch taught at the University of California, Riverside from 1970 to 1972. In 1972, he took a position at the University of Miami, Florida, where he remained as an Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Art in the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Arts and Sciences until his retirement in 2013. Betsch specializes in the art and architecture of Constantinople and is involved in researching the development of architecture in the Classical Greek era.

Archival history

Rolls A and B, while mentioned in Betsch’s notebook, were not included in the collection when it was donated to ICFA in 2008. Roll C, which is originally mentioned before Roll 54 in the notebook, has been listed in this finding aid after Roll 54. The negatives were moved to ICFA cold storage for preservation purposes in 2014.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

This collection was donated by William Earl Betsch on May 30, 2008, via airmail, to the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

William Betsch created this collection in the summer of 1970 as part of the research for his dissertation: “The History, Production and Distribution of the Late Antique Capital in Constantinople.” It contains 55 rolls of negatives and 1 notebook from his survey of architectural capitals in Istanbul, Turkey. Though Betsch’s original project was to focus on cisterns, he eventually concentrated on capitals. The negatives contain images of architectural features located throughout Istanbul, including the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Hagia Sophia, and various cisterns. The notebook documents Betsch’s photographic work processes, providing detailed descriptions of both the contents of each negative frame and the way in which he photographed each object. It also includes a number of diagrams that indicate the location of the object he was photographing and the angle at which he took the photograph.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The inventory is arranged according to William Betsch’s notebook with the exception of Roll C, which is described after Roll 54. The negatives are arranged by roll and frame number.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the notebook and digitized files are unrestricted. They are available for research purposes. Appointment is required for access because researcher space is limited: http://www.doaks.org/icfa-appointment-request-form. For research queries, contact the staff of Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (icfa@doaks.org).

Conditions governing reproduction

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the collection must be obtained from the donor.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Negatives are stored in ICFA cold storage for preservation purposes.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Publication note

Betsch, William E. “The History, Production and Distribution of the Late Antique Capital in Constantinople.” PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1977.

Notes area


Negative rolls have been described using information obtained from both Betsch’s notebook and original research conducted by ICFA’s interns. Betsch used both established terms, as well as his own naming conventions. For example, he described some capitals as “panel type w/ H. Sophia foliage / cap.” Quotation marks have been used when descriptions were transcribed directly from Betsch’s notebook and brackets have been used when descriptions were supplied by ICFA staff and interns.

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Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

This record was created by Shalimar White on January 27, 2014 and edited by Shalimar White on August 8, 2014.




Archivist's note

Inventory and collection assessment were initially undertaken by Kate Herron, former ICFA intern, on June 9, 2008. In 2011, the ICFA staff decided to re-assess the collection and update the existing inventory according to William Betsch’s fieldwork notebook in order to make the collection more accessible. In October 2011, Ana Elisa de Campos Salles, a graduate intern from the School of Library and Information Science at The Catholic University of America, conducted research, examined the negatives, and compared each frame with Betsch’s notes. De Campos Salles also expanded the inventory to include detailed descriptions for each roll based on Betsch’s research and fieldwork descriptions. In February 2012, the project was taken over by Rebecca Calcagno, a graduate intern from the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Calcagno undertook research, completed a first draft of the finding aid, digitized approximately half of the negatives (for access to the digitized files, consult with ICFA staff), and drafted a digitization guide stemming from her work on the Betsch collection. In February 2014, Alison Skaggs, a graduate intern from the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, began the work necessary to finalize the project. In May 2014, Skaggs completed the finding aid by expanding and standardizing the descriptions in the Collection Inventory and Description. The finding aid was edited by ICFA Archivist Rona Razon, ICFA Byzantine Research Associate Fani Gargova, and ICFA Manager Shalimar White in June 2014, and was finalized in August 2014.

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Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: William Earl Betsch Photographs of Architectural Capitals in Istanbul, 1970, PH.BZ.002, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



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Rights note(s)

However, written permission for publication or reproduction must be obtained from William Betsch.



Copyright status

Under copyright

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Copyright jurisdiction

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Digital object metadata

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246.4 KiB


August 5, 2015 4:32 PM

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