Ellen L. Kohler papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives [Contact Us]3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-6324
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
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Ellen Lucile Kohler (1916-2008) was born at Sunnydale (suburban Seattle) Washington. She received her B.A. (1938) and her M.A. (1942) both in Latin from the University of Washington, and taught high school Latin and history from 1939 to 1942, after which she served as a Latin instructor at the University of Washington from 1942 to 1946. During this time she also spent a season (1939) as an excavator at Cattle Point, San Juan Island, Washington, a former hunting site of the local Salish people. It was here that Dr. Kohler acquired her lifelong love and interest in archaeology. She attended Bryn Mawr College from 1946 to 1948, and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens from 1948 to 1950. During her years at Bryn Mawr she also served as Asssistant to the Editor of the American Journal of Archaeology. She earned her Ph.D. in archaeology from Bryn Mawr in 1958 with her dissertation Phrygian Animal Style in Wood and Ivory at Gordion in the 8th to 6th Centuries B.C., a topic which she would later return to in her field and lecture work. In 1950 Dr. Kohler began her association with the University of Pennsylvania Museum as an Assistant in the Mediterranean Section. She took part in excavations at Kourion, Cyprus (1949, 1951, 1955) and later at Sybaris in southern Italy (1962), both projects of the University Museum, but it was at the Anatolian site of Gordion, directed since 1950 by Rodney S. Young, that Dr. Kohler did her most significant work. She was part of the original team of the project, and returned over 18 seasons variously from 1950 to 1992. Her area of study included Phrygian animal-style carving in wood and ivory, but she served during most of her career at Gordion to inventory and catalog finds, especially from the lesser tumulus burial mounds surrounding the site, developing a registration and conservation system adapted from the Athenian Agora excavations. She continued this inventory work at the University Museum, serving as Archivist of the Gordion Project Archives from 1987 to 2005. She described herself as principally in charge of the “old” archives, from 1950 through 1974, the year of Director Rodney Young’s death. Dr. Kohler also served as Executive Director of Gordion Publications from 1977 to 1987, but she was always actively involved in the publication of Gordion research, having served as Editor of University Museum Publications from 1952 to 1958. She also served as editor of The Gordion Excavations Final Reports: Three Great Early Tumuli (1981); her most important personal contribution was the publication of The Lesser Phrygian Tumuli, Part 1, (1995). (A second volume in this series is forthcoming as of 2013.) In addition, she was also an active reviewer and journal contributor. Although Dr. Kohler served at the University Museum in several capacities since 1950, it was not until 1958 that she became Assistant Curator of the Mediterranean Section, and later Registrar of the Museum from 1965 to 1977. She was appointed Research Associate of the Mediterranean Section in 1968, a position which she continued to hold until her death in 2008. Despite failing eyesight, she continued to perform her duties at the Museum until several months before her death, responding to research inquiries of scholars and fulfilling requests from the Gordion Project Archives. Dr. Kohler taught classical archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, first as Assistant Professor (1958-1965) and then as Lecturer (1965-1980). Her principal subject fields were Roman, Italic and Etruscan art and archaeology. During her career Dr. Kohler saw many of her students develop into archaeologists of the first importance, including Crawford H. Greenewalt and Charles K. Williams, III.
The textual and photographic records of the Ellen L. Kohler papers consist of approximately one linear foot of professional and personal correspondence, including museum research, draft reviews for publication, student papers and academic records, and teaching materials, as well as personal photographs, including some from the Gordion excavation site. They do not include the bulk of Dr. Kohler’s papers and records from the Gordion Project (1950-2006), which are held separately in the Gordion Project Archives. Also included here are Dr. Kohler’s travel notes and drawings from Greece and Crete in 1948, passports (1948-1985) and personal diaries from 1948-1952, and 1954-1958. The diaries consist for the most part of very brief daily entries, both personal and professional, including references to work at Gordion and the Gordion Project. Included are two files that document Dr. Kohler’s support of her alma mater, the University of Washington, and her contribution toward the creation of the Densmore Memorial Fund at this institution.
- University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
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- Finding aid prepared by James DeWalt
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This series includes general professional correspondence, as well as responses to museum research requests (1958-1986) and correspondence and related documentation concerning Dr. Kohler’s student and academic career (1930-2006). There are two files relating to her personal support for the University of Washington and the creation of the Densmore Memorial Fund at this institution.
This series includes draft reviews and articles for publication, as well as copies of some of Dr. Kohler’s student papers and her master’s thesis.
Included are some representative lecture notes and plans for courses in classical archaeology (Roman and Etruscan) that Dr. Kohler taught between 1958 and 1980. Several files of mostly correspondence related to student advising make up the bulk of the series.
This series includes personal travel notes and drawings from Greece and Crete (1948), eight passports issued between 1948 and 1985, as well as two diaries (1948-1952, and 1954-1959). The diaries consist mostly of brief entries of a personal nature, but include some details of daily activities at excavation sites, including Gordion.
This series contains personal photographs taken of and by Ellen Kohler documenting her childhood, family, academic and professional career. Included are some mostly informal photographs from the Gordion excavation including team members and local people at the site. Additional photographs of Ellen Kohler can be found in the Portrait Collection (Kohler, Ellen), Penn Museum Archives.