Blending Two Cultures: The Gennadius Library Dedication in 1926


Posted by Maria Georgopoulou

Inspired by the recent inauguration of the new Makriyannis Wing, Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library, here contributes an essay about the festivities that took place during the dedication of the Library in April 1926.


The new Ioannis Makriyannis Wing at the Gennadius Library

On June 2, 2018 the American School inaugurated the new Makriyannis Wing of the Gennadius Library. During the preparations for the opening, I was tempted to look back at the festivities for the inauguration of the Gennadius Library itself in 1926. As with other momentous moments in his life, John Gennadius was keen to keep in his scrapbooks as much information as possible about the events (Opening Exercises of the Gennadius Library, preserved in Scrapbook Φ38, p. 36).

The dedication ceremony of the Gennadeion took place on April 23, 1926 at 4.30 pm, after extensive preparations in America and Athens. The letters exchanged between John Gennadius and Bert Hodge Hill, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter), in November and December 1925 deal not only with significant matters, such as guest lists, but also with smaller details like the duration of the blessing (αγιασμός).

On the day of the event the dignitaries marched into the Gennadius gardens in an academic procession. Inside the Library, they listened to various speeches and a lecture by John Gennadius. Due to limited space, admission to this event was by ticket only.  An additional tour of the Library and “a great garden party” was held in the gardens of the School, on the following day. The blessing (αγιασμός) had taken place a day earlier followed by a reception in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Gennadius hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur M. Woodward, Director of the British School of Archaeology.

The dedication of the Gennadius Library, April 23, 1926. Photo: Gennadius Library, John Gennadius Scrapbook 38.

Greek and Foreign Dignitaries

The inaugural ceremony was a momentous event that attracted many important visitors. Edward Capps (1866-1950), Chairman of the Managing Committee of the American School, and an instrumental figure in accepting the gift of John Gennadius’s precious library on behalf of the American School in 1922, reached Athens in March of 1926. Although the School put on a good face for the inauguration of the Gennadeion, Capps’s early arrival may have had something to do with serious internal strife at the School; Director Bert Hodge Hill, who had served in this position since 1906 had been just terminated.  A ‘civil war” was about to break out in the American School that would cause a deep rift in the School’s foundations for several decades. Yet, the two men appeared side by side on many social occasions during the inauguration of the Gennadius Library, keeping the conflict within the School’s boundaries. [1]

John and Florence Gennadius arrived in Athens on April 13 and stayed on campus, in the newly built house for the Librarian of the Gennadius Library, Dr. Gilbert Campbell Scoggin.

The dedication of the Gennadius Library as seen in the Greek press. Photo: Gennadius Library, John Gennadius Scrapbook 38.

Among the 104 dignitaries who came from the U.S. we should mention: Dr. Henry S. Pritchett and Mrs. Pritchett of the Carnegie Corporation, the organization that had funded the construction of the Library [2]; seven members of the School’s Board of Trustees, including the President of the Board (1911-1928), Judge William Caleb Loring; the Vice-President, Frederick P. Fish (who was also representing M.I.T.); the Secretary (1920-1949), A. Winsor Weld (1869-1956), who had first come to Greece with the American Red Cross in 1918; and the Treasurer (1914-1933), Allen Curtis, who was also a member of the Building Committee supervising the construction of the Gennadius Library. John Van Pelt and W. Stuart Thompson, the architects who had designed and constructed the building, were also present of course. (On Weld’s involvement with the Greek Commission of the American Red Cross, see “Athens 1918: “In Every Way a Much More Attractive City than Rome”; and  about W. Stuart Thompson’s career in Greece, see also “’The Best Laid Plans… Often Go Awry’: A Tale of Two Museums”.)

The American School was not the only one facing problems. Greek President Theodoros Pangalos (1878-1952), who had taken over the government of Greece by staging a coup in June 1925 was to be deposed a few months later in August 1926.  Pangalos attended the inauguration accompanied by his wife, Major Zervos, Captain Laskos, and Captain Gennadis, aides to the President of the Republic. The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Loucas Kanakaris Roufos (1878-1949), and the Minister of Religious Affairs and Education, astronomer Demetrios Aiginitis (1862-1934), the Mayor of Athens, the British Minister and Lady Cheetham, the Austrian Consul General and Madame Walter, and the American Consul General Mr. and Mrs. Garrels.

The dedication of the Gennadius Library. Judge Loring (1), General Pangalos (2), and Captain Gennadis (3). Photo: Gennadius Library, John Gennadius Scrapbook 38.

“A true Greek Renaissance”

Part of the planning had to do with entertaining those who came from America. In addition to visiting the museums and monuments of Athens, one of the Annual Professors of the American School, Dean Walter Miller of the University of Missouri, met a group of them in Patras on April 6 and took them on tours of Olympia and the Argolid and also of Boeotia and Delphi. (On Walter Miller, see also J. L. Davis, “Archives from the Trash: The Multidimensional Annie Smith Peck-Mountaineer, Suffragette, Classicist.)

The Greek experience of the foreign dignitaries was enhanced by a special presentation of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women (Λύκειον των Ελληνίδων). On Thursday April 21, 1926 the Lyceum organized an impromptu reception in their honor, a preview of the annual Festival of the Stadium that was being planned for May 9. The girls of the Lyceum dressed in traditional Greek costume danced folk dances. What attracted the admiration of the guests, however, were the tableaux vivants that recreated a historic panorama of all the periods of Greek civilization from prehistory to the present: “a true Greek Renaissance (Μια αληθινή Ελληνική Αναγέννησις).” (Scrapbook Φ22, p. 12, newspaper clipping, Πολιτεία, 27/4/1926.)  Particular praise was reserved for the reenactment of the frescoes of Knossos by the Greek archaeologist Anna Apostolaki, who put a lot of care into the creation of eleven Minoan costumes, which cost 20,000 drachmas, almost 1/10 of the entire festival’s budget. [3]. Mrs. Hill, the wife of Bert Hodge Hill, was enthused, and the director of Near East Relief referred to the presentation as a most beautiful work of national pride. Rightfully then, did Kallirrhoe Parren (Καλιρρόη Παρρέν) report at the end of 1926 that “Arthur Evans had excavated Knossos, a site that revealed Minoan civilization, but thanks to Anna Apostolaki the Lyceum girls revived Minoan culture and made it accessible to thousands of people.” (About Apostolaki, see also V. Florou, “Anna Apostolaki: A Forgotten Pioneerof Women’s Emancipation in Greece“.)

Greek women clad in copies of Minoan dress for the celebrations of the Lyceum in 1926. Source: Photographic Archive of Lyceum Club of Greek Women.


“All the comforts”

A different kind of feast was planned by John Gennadius and his wife Florence to thank the American School for all their hard work: a formal dinner in the best hotel in Athens was held on Saturday April 24, 1926 (Lazarus Saturday) at 8.45 pm. While the Grande Bretagne hotel was being remodeled (1923-1933), it had taken over the hotel Le Petit Palais (or Μικρόν Ανάκτορον) located on the corner of Panepistimiou Street and Kephissias Avenue (now Vasilissis Sophias) next to the Megaron Demetriou.

Advertisements stressed the prior history of the building, which had served as the residence of prince Nikolaos (e.g. in the Parisian newspaper Le journal des Hellènes, 1926). In 1923, this small luxury hotel of 60 to 70 beds prided itself that it “could be compared to the best of Europe as it had all the comforts sought by the most demanding European guest.” (Much of the staff of 250 people consisted of Asia Minor refugees.) Indeed, the hotel was not only a point of reference for the Athenian elite, but was praised by foreign guests as well. [5] It was in this chic Athenian establishment that Ambassador John Gennadius decided to throw a dinner party to thank the dignitaries of the American School for completing the construction of the Gennadius Library and fulfilling the lifelong dream of this adamant book collector.

Petit Palais, ca. 1920s.

The Menu

The menu consisted of six courses according to the trends of the times. In the interwar period upper-class Greek cuisine underwent a significant change in favor of a more European kind of cooking; the famous Greek cookbook of Nikos Tselementes, first published in 1910, had europeanized Greek cuisine by introducing butter and cream to its recipes. It comes to no surprise that the menu at the Petit Palais featured a five-course meal with dishes influenced by American and French cuisine. (On the changes in Greek cuisine during the early decades of the 20th century, see also: N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, “Expat Feasts in Athens on the Eve of the Balkan Wars“.)

The first course was barley velouté soup with pailles (“straws”) of Cheshire or Chester cheese. It was followed by lobster Newburg, ham mousse with ginger, roasted chicken with lettuce salad and asparagus with sauce hollandaise. For dessert there was bombe plombières [5], friandises (various sweets) and a basket of fruit.

The total cost of this dinner for 38 people was quite substantial: 16,159 drachmas. The dinner itself was set at 300 drachmas per person, drinks amounted to 1,721 drachmas (including the huge expense of 425 drachmas for Evian water); the cost of flowers was 1,000 drachmas and that of cigars and cigarettes 805. There was a service charge of 10% in the amount of 1,233 drachmas.

The Banqueters

The 38 guests were seated in one u-shaped table; they were mostly Americans associated with the School or the U.S. Embassy, and several Greek friends of John Gennadius. (Seating chart available in Scrapbook Φ22, pp. 14-15.) Many of the Greek officials who were invited sent their regrets as on that Saturday they had to attend the celebration of the centenary of the sortie of Missolonghi. John Gennadius had been careful (letter of December 29, 1925 to Bert H. Hill) not to plan the inauguration of the Library on the same day as the celebrations at Missolonghi nor on Greek Easter (May 2).

In addition to the representatives of the School’s Trustees and Managing Committee, the Carnegie Corporation and other American officials mentioned above, John and Florence Gennadius extended their invitation to family members of the dignitaries and to senior staff of the American School. For instance, the Chairman of the Managing Committee (1918-1939) Edward Capps of Princeton University, was accompanied by his wife and two children: Edward Jr. and Priscilla (who also headed Near East Industries in Greece), as well as by his brother, the physician Joseph Almarin Capps of the University of Chicago. The Director of the American School Bert Hodge Hill and his wife, Ida Thallon Hill, were joined by Assistant Director Carl William Blegen with his wife Elizabeth Pierce Blegen, Gennadeion Librarian Dr. Gilbert Campbell Scoggin and Mrs. Scoggin, and Mrs. Jennie Emerson Miller (wife of Annual Professor Walter Miller). The British School was represented by Mrs. W. A. Heurtley, wife of the Assistant director, as the Director was away in Sparta. Three Americans from Chicago, School Trustee (1924-1929) Horace S. Oakley, who was also a member of the American Red Cross Commission to Greece in 1918, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Patten were added to the dinner party.

Edward Capps and Gilbert Scoggin with their wives posing on the steps of the Gennadius Library for the Greek press. Photo: Gennadius Library, John Gennadius Scrapbook 38.

Despite the wish of John Gennadius to have with him the highest ranking diplomats, the Minister of the U.S. to Greece does not appear in the correspondence related to the inauguration; he must have been absent from Greece at the time. In his stead two other members of the U.S. legation to Greece were present at the dinner: James Orr Denby (Second (?) Secretary) and Herbert S. Goold.

The Greek guests included General and Mrs. Amvrosios Phrantzis, whose correspondence with John Gennadius betrays a close friendship and mutual respect between the two, probably formed during Phrantzis’s time in London (1917-1922) [6]; Professor Andreas M. Andreades (1876-1935), an eminent economist trained in Paris and London and Member of the Academy of Athens [7]; D[imitrios] Calapothakis from the Press Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Themistoklis N. Marinos, vice-president of the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece, one of the academic institutions that were highly regarded by John Gennadius; and G. Marinos.

President Pangalos, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Education, the Provost of the University of Athens Simos Menardos, Alexandros Vouros (1871-1959), a high ranking Greek diplomat, and Stamos Papafrangos (1872-1942), a high ranking official in the Director’s Office of the National Bank of Greece [8] declined the invitation; some were going to be at Missolonghi.

The array of guests demonstrates the network of people that Gennadius wanted to honor in this event, as well as his personal connections with Greek dignitaries. As a senior diplomat from London he surely had a heightened sense of protocol exigencies and meant to include Greek ministers and University professors along friends and colleagues, such as Amvrosios Phrantzis and Stamos Papafrangos with whom he had worked in the past.

The juxtaposition of the two events, one at the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, celebrating the continuity of Greek history, and the other, a high class European-style dinner at a posh Athenian hotel offered by John Gennadius, recall the two cultures that were combined in his figure. As his portraits show, this Athenian who spent most of his life in London could choose to appear either as a true Greek or as a Englishman seamlessly blending into the new, host culture depending on the situation.

 

Portrait of John Gennadius by Philip de László, 1925. Photo: Gennadius Library.

Portrait of John Gennadius for Spy Magazine, ca. 1925.


Notes

[1] On the rivalry between Capps and Hill, see also: “Clash of the Titans: The Controversy Behind Loring Hall” and David W. Rupp,” Mutually Antagonistic Philhellenes: Edward Capps and Bert Hodge Hill at the American School of Classical Studies and Athens College,” in Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece, ed. J. L. Davis and N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, Hesperia Special Issue, vol. 82:1 (2013), pp. 67-100.

[2] Henry Smith Pritchett (1857-1939) was a Trustee of the Carnegie Corporation and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1906-1930). He was a famous astronomer, former President of MIT, founder of TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association) and had close ties with the American School; about Pritchett and the Carnegie Corporation see N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, “The Carnegie Appropriations to the American School of Classical Studies. Gifts wrapped up in successful social networking,” in Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece. ed. J. L. Davis and N. Vogeikoff-Brogan, Hesperia Special Issue, vol. 82:1 (2013), pp. 131-152.

[3] Anna Apostolaki (1881-1958) hailed from Crete and was among the first women to enroll at the University of Athens to study philology. In her professional career she became involved with the nascent field of ethnoarchaeology as well as the National Museum of Decorative Arts. She was particularly keen to organize exhibitions and festivals in order to support organizations like the Weaving Center “Double Axe” in Crete established in 1925. She was a founding member of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in 1911, where she gave a significant lecture on Knossos in 1911. See E. Bobou-Protopapa and N. Andriotis, «Η Άννα Αποστολάκι στο Λύκειο των Ελληνίδων: το ξεκίνημα [Anna Apostolaki in the Lyceum Club of Greek Women. The Beginning],» in A. Economou and V. Florou, eds., Αντίδωρον στην Άννα Αποστολάκι. Η ζωή, το έργο και η συνεισφορά της, Athens, 2017, pp. 133-150, esp. 142-144.

[4] Aggelos Vlachos, Μεγάλη Βρεταννία: ένα ξενοδοχείο σύμβολο. Eπιμέλεια, σύμβουλος έκδοσης Γεωργία Μ. Πανσεληνά. Athens 2003, pp. 80-81.

[5]  Ice cream made with whipped cream, candied fruit and kirsch in the shape of a bombe or sphere; https://www.maxi-mag.fr/cuisine/recette/plombiere.html. Retrieved on January 20, 2018.

[6] Amvrosios Frantzis (1869-1953), an army officer who participated in the Greek-Turkish War of 1897, the Goudi Military League (1909), and the Balkan Wars. From 1917 to 1922 he served as military attaché at the Greek Embassy in London and in 1926 he was appointed military attaché to Prime Minister Kountouriotis; cf. http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/index.php/archives/Gennadius-Archival-Collections#AmvrosiosFrantzis. Retrieved January 20, 2018.

[7] Andreadis was professor of Political Economy and Statistics at the University of Athens and member of the Academy of Athens since its inception in 1926. In addition to his significant contributions to economic history and public finance, Andreadis also wrote studies about Byzantium, early modern Greece, theatrical reviews, and even literary studies. See M. Psalidopoulos, ed., Ανδρέας Μ. Ανδρεάδης. Ο Πατριάρχης των Δημόσιων Οικονομικών. [In Greek: Andreas M. Andreadis. The Patriarch of Public Finance]. Athens, 2008; P. Giotopoulos, “Andreas M. Andreades [In Greek],” Ionios Anthologia  95-98 (1935), pp. 77-83; and V. Rapanos, “Ο Ανδρέας Ανδρεάδης και οι σύγχρονες απόψεις για τη φορολογία,” in Ανδρέας Μ. Ανδρεάδης. Ο Πατριάρχης των Δημόσιων Οικονομικών (2008), pp. 33-60.

[8] Although his signature is not easily deciphered it probably belongs to Papafrangos who had been sent to the U.S. along with John Gennadius to negotiate a loan to Greece in 1921); cf. L. P. Cassimatis, American Influence in Greece 1917-1929 (Kent, OH, 1988), p. 71.


“If a Jesuit should prove not to know Latin we’d better shut our doors!”: Catholic Clergy at the ASCSA, Pt. I

Posted by Dylan Rogers

Dylan Rogers holds a PhD from the University of Virginia, and he has been Assistant Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens since 2015. The essay he contributes to “From the Archivist’s Notebook” was inspired by recent research in the ASCSA Archives about the Summer Session program.


Fr. Raymond Schoder, S.J. (1916-1987)

Last summer, I began researching the life of Professor Gertrude Smith at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or School), particularly in her role as Chairman of the Committee on Admissions and Fellowships. (On Smith see D. Rogers, “Gertrude Smith: A Classic American Philhellene.“) Smith guided the selection process of students during the Academic Year and the Summer Session (SS) deftly for nearly 20 years (1945-1963). Delving into her correspondence with various people associated with the School, I was struck by one letter in particular, as she was discussing Fr. Raymond Schoder, S.J. (1916-1987), and his desire to be a SS Director at the School in 1961:

I wonder with him just what the Roman Catholic situation would be. Don’t think I have anything against the R.C.’s. I haven’t, but I do not want the summer session turned into an adjunct of the church, and, if he once does the school, I foresee an avalanche for that particular summer of applicants for that particular summer of applicants from people who have used his dratted Homeric Greek books and who will be urged by their priest or nun teachers to take the session when they can have it under his guidance. In the two sessions which I have done I have had each time four or five Roman Catholics, but I could usually control that and get them meatless meals when they had to have them and get them to places where they could get to church on time and so on. But we do not want the summer session dependent of the Roman Catholic church, and I think it might be if Father S. were leading around people, the majority of whom were R.C.’s. (ASCSA ADM REC Series 100, Box 106/1, Folder 3, 26 October 1960)

Did this mean that the School, as a whole, had a bias against Roman Catholics? Certainly this would not be unheard of in American academic circles. Even as late as 1977, Catholic priests were still noticing a bias in academia, which stemmed from deep-roots in America against Catholics (particularly immigrants from Catholic countries of Europe, creating a so-called nativism, or bias, in society). Fr. Andrew Greeley noted that people often told him not to wear his collar, or he would not be taken as serious as his lay counterparts. Indeed, he questioned:

Is the nativism in education conscious or unconscious? I suppose the best answer is that it doesn’t matter. Those who ask, Isn’t Catholicism incompatible with independent intellectual activity? might as well be asking, Isn’t it true that blacks have a distinctive body odor? Or, Isn’t it true women are happier at home raising children? The person who asks the question is prejudiced whether or not he knows it. (Greeley 1977, 43)

Further, the School has been noted for occasionally making less-than-polite comments about religious groups outside of Protestantism, particularly Judaism. In correspondence in the early twentieth century, if an applicant was Jewish, oftentimes that was noted in their files (See J. L. Davis, “A Preamble to the Nazi Holocaust in Greece: Two Micro-Histories from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.”) While this did not hinder students and scholars of Jewish origin from coming to the School, it is disconcerting to a modern academic audience that such issues would indeed be brought up.

So I began to go back through the Archives to see if there were any anti-Catholic tendencies in the School’s past, as Smith’s letter of 1960 had the potential to suggest. What I did find was a fascinating history of Catholic religious figures (of both genders) coming to the School as students and scholars and flourishing. Almost from the beginning of the School’s foundation in 1881, Catholic clergy had been part of our history, with the first Catholic priest in 1887-1889, Fr. Daniel Quinn. Read the rest of this entry »


FULBRIGHTING IN POST-WW II GREECE (1952-1953)

The Surplus Property Act of 1944 was an act of the U.S. Congress which allowed the Secretary of State to enter into agreements with the governments of foreign countries for the disposal of surplus American property (mostly WW II scrap) abroad. The Fulbright Act, as it is better known today, became a pioneering platform for educational exchanges between the U.S. and a large number of countries, thanks to an amendment introduced by a young Democratic Senator from Arkansas, J. William Fulbright, in 1945. The amendment allowed the sale of surplus property (e.g., airplanes and their spare parts, arms and ammunition) to foreign countries in exchange for “intangible benefits.” One of those benefits, at the insistence of Senator Fulbright, who had been a Rhodes Scholar as a young man, involved the international exchange of scholars. Since foreign governments did not have enough dollars to pay for the purchase of surplus material, the Act allowed them to use their local currencies to pay the expenses of American scholars studying in those countries.  Fulbright strongly believed in the transformative value of educational exchanges, that they could “play a major role in helping to break down mutual misunderstandings,” and contribute to world peace. On August 1, 1946, President Truman signed the Fulbright bill into law.

Graveyard of American jeeps after WW II

Senator Fulbright

The first European country to sign the Fulbright Agreement was Greece, on April 23, 1948.  The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School herefafter) with its superb reputation, was one of the immediate beneficiaries of the bi-national agreement. The School claimed that it was the only place of higher learning where American students could apply for research grants to carry out advanced work in classics and archaeology. “It is of course possible for Americans to enroll in the School of Liberal Arts in the University of Athens; but the lecture courses are largely theoretical, library and other facilities are sadly inadequate, and the language problem constitutes a difficult hurdle” argued archaeologist Carl W. Blegen to Gordon T. Bowles of the Conference Board of Associated Research Councils on September 15, 1948 (AdmRec 705/1, folder 1). Blegen, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati, had been appointed as Director of the American School for a year (1948-1949). Having served the interests of the School for a long time, Blegen naturally cared first and foremost for the institution’s well-being. Blegen and others, such as Homer A. Thompson, Director of the Athenian Agora Excavations, saw in the Fulbright Act a new source of income to finance the School’s operations and, especially, the research that was carried out in the Athenian Agora. I have written elsewhere about the curious entanglement of the American School with the Fulbright Foundation in the early years of the program’s implementation, and I will be talking more about it on November 30th at Cotsen Hall in a joint event organized by the ASCSA and the Fulbright Foundation on the occasion of its 70th anniversary. Read the rest of this entry »


Dollies and Doilies: Priscilla Capps Hill and the Refugee Crisis in Athens, 1922-1941

Posted by Jack L. Davis

Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here contributes an essay about the (forgotten) relief efforts of Priscilla Capps Hill through Near East Industries during the great refugee crisis that followed the Asia Minor catastrophe in 1922.


In the months that followed the Asia Minor catastrophe in September 1922 and the population exchange of 1923, more than a million Orthodox Christians were ultimately compelled to desert their birth rights in Anatolia. Their influx to Greece generated an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. American expatriates in Greece took immediate action. Darrell O. Hibbard of the YMCA and Jefferson Caffery, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission, created the Athens American Relief Committee, which notified Red Cross missions in Europe and America about the crisis and organized the first relief efforts. Bert H. Hill, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter), was appointed Chairman of the Relief Committee, in which role he was expected to coordinate communication with the Greek government.  Harry Hill (no relation to Bert), an Englishman, head of the American Express Company in Athens, was charged with purchases and banking.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars were collected by the time the Committee was disbanded on November 24, 1922, when the American Red Cross arrived in Greece to provide humanitarian aid together with Near East Relief, the latter focusing largely on Turkey.  Its work had been invaluable. (See also E. Daleziou, ” ‘Adjuster and Negotiator’: Bert Hodge Hill and the Greek Refugee Crisis, 1918-1928,” Hesperia 82, 2013, pp. 49-65.)

The ASCSA’s involvement did not stop there. In the years to come “the School continued to be a hub for Americans offering their services to a variety of refugee relief efforts such as the ARC, the American Women’s Hospital Organization, Near East Relief, the YMCA, and the Athens American Relief Committee” (Daleziou 2013, p. 58). In addition to relief work, Edward Capps, the Chair of the School’s Managing Committee and a professor of Classics at Princeton University, was asked by Greece’s former prime-minister Eleftherios Venizelos to raise awareness in America of what was happening in Greece. Without wasting time, Capps, who knew Venizelos personally from his days as U.S. Minister to Greece (1920-1921), founded The American Friends of Greece (AFG), the broader mission of which was “to promote friendly relations between Greece and the U.S.” (The AFG later published booklets in support of Greece during World War II and a monthly newsletter, “The Philhellene,” which circulated from 1942-1950.)

Priscilla’s Story

Incorporation of the AFG on October 15, 1923 marked the start of Priscilla Capps’s involvement in refugee affairs, a much less well-known story than her father’s.  Priscilla Capps (1900-1985), a graduate of Smith College, had assisted her father in Athens during his service as Minister, while she was a student at the ASCSA, as a kind of “first daughter.”

Priscilla Capps clad in a traditional Greek costume, ca. 1920s. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Oscar Broneer Papers.

Read the rest of this entry »


Imagining and Reimagining Greece


Posted by Clayton Miles Lehmann

Clayton M. Lehmann, Professor of History at the University of South Dakota, here contributes an essay about American college students coming to Greece, as part of study-abroad programs. This post represents a modified and shortened version of the 63rd Annual Harrington Lecture, which he delivered 28 October 2015 to the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of South Dakota.  Lehmann was a Regular Member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in 1982/3, lived in Greece while he wrote his doctoral dissertation, and has returned often, three times as the Director of the Summer Session for the American School and regularly since 2005 as one of the professor-captains of the University of South Dakota’s short-term faculty-led study-abroad program “The Isles of Greece!”.


After disappointing tourism numbers for the 2004 Olympics, the Greek National Tourism Organization launched a major campaign, “Live Your Myth in Greece,” to rekindle Greece in the world’s imagination.  When a group of my students arrived in Athens in 2005 for the study-abroad program The Isles of Greece!,[1] they saw the advertisements for this campaign on the billboards and buses on the way into the city.  At first glance, the images appeal to the typical touristic expectation of the Greek quartet of sea, sun, sand, and sex.  But the classical architecture and supernatural figures suggest a more complex imaginary mix.  The fine print on some of these posters read:

Greece: a land of mythical dimensions. Where the spirit of hospitality welcomes you as a modern god. And the siren song draws you into its deep blue waters. Where a gentle breeze through ancient ruins seems to whisper your name. And a dance until dawn can seem to take on Dionysian proportions. In Greece the myths are still very much alive. And in amongst them sits your own . . . patiently waiting for you to live it. Live your myth in Greece.  Ask your travel agent.

 

Eros and Mermaid posters for Live Your Myth in Greece, Greek National Tourism Organization campaign, 2005; designed by K. Karavellas; and creative design by McCann Erickson-BBDO-Cleverbank Joint Venture. Photographs courtesy of the GNTO.

Read the rest of this entry »


Greece 1935-1938: Involuntary Testimonies

For the really significant history is that grass roots history which reveals the everyday life of people, in their homes, and at their retreats, in their work and in their play, in turbulence and in repose.
Theodore C. Blegen, 1948

“I suppose you have heard about the Revolution which is taking place here. It began last Friday night -March 1st. During dinner we heard various rumblings and shots out in the city, but didn’t think much about it, believing them just the ordinary noises of the city. But afterwards they became so pronounced that we knew something was happening. So Betty [Dow] and I went down-town, in the direction from which the shots came. We met many troops marching through the streets, and finally came to the region where the firing came from – near the Akropolis. A revolution is such a strange thing here – everyone takes it as a matter of course, and a little as a joke – and the firing isn’t widespread at all. We were able to approach so near –without any danger – that we witnessed a tank storming a barracks for soldiers, and saw the firing on both sides… after the attacks on the barracks which we saw (we were in a crowd of about 25 – the sole witnesses), we saw other tanks, at close range and finally came upon battalions of soldiers drawn up with guns and bayonets in the streets and ready for action… ” wrote Richard (Dick) H. Howland, age 25, to his family back in America.

Most of Howland’s letters carry the “Stadium” stamp, which was issued in 1932 as a supplementary stamp of the 1927 “Landscapes” set. The “Stadium” was withdrawn from sale in 1939. Photo: ASCSA Archives, Richard Howland Papers.

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Athens at the Turn of the Century: A Sentimental Capital and a Resort of Scholars

On February 17, 1901, a young American archaeologist and member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter) was “roaming over the city in search of Mr. Kavvadias, the general ephor of antiquities in Athens, in order to get a permit to begin work at Vari tomorrow” (letter of Charles H. Weller to his wife).  Together with a small group of students from the School, he had conceived of the idea of conducting a small excavation at the Vari Cave on the southern spur of Mount Hymettus, near the ancient deme of Anargyrous. Known since the 18th century, the cave had been visited and described by several European travelers who were particularly taken by the reliefs and inscriptions carved on its walls.

Vari Cave interior with sculpted figures, 1923. Source: ASCSA Archives, Dorothy Burr Thompson Photographic Collection.

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