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Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Personal 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.

Overview and metadata sections

Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer (1892-1989) was born in Harrisburg, PA to Episcopal bishop, Rev. Thomas Berham Angell. As a child, she attended private schools, but she did not pursue a college education until after her last child was born. Not content to simply be a homemaker, she completed post-graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1934-1935. Being passionate about Central American Archaeology, she subsequently went on an archaeological expedition to Guatemala with the University Museum to the ancient site of Piedras Negras. Although she never earned a degree, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Beaver College in June 1964 for her support for graduate nursing education.

Boyer was deeply engaged with the University Museum, holding various positions within the organization throughout her life. In Sept. 1941, she served as the Museum’s secretary and then as administrative officer from March 1943-July 1944. Following Dr. George C. Vaillant’s untimely death on May 13, 1945, she served as acting director until July 1947, when Dr. Froelich Rainey was appointed to the position. Boyer then returned to her role as secretary until Dec. 1949, when she resigned from the position. She also supported the Museum by serving as a member of its Women’s Committee for a number of years.

In addition to her involvement with the Museum, Boyer was active in the Philadelphia community, serving on the University Hospital’s Board of Managers beginning in 1936, as well as acting as president of its Women’s Board and as Secretary of the School of Nursing. She was also a dedicated patron of the Academy of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra, being a key instigator in the establishment of their annual Concert and Ball and acting as Co-Chairman of the this fundraiser in the year commemorating the Academy’s 101st Anniversary. Among her other activities, Boyer belonged to the Metropolitan Opera Association’s Executive Committee, the Museum Council of Philadelphia, the American Anthropological Society of America, the Society for American Archaeology, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Pan-American Association, the English Speaking Union, the United Nations Council of Philadelphia, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania organization, the Young Musicians’ Committee, the British War Relief Committee, the Queen Wilhelmina Committee, the World Affairs Council, the Acorn Club, the Weeders Garden Club, the Garden Club of America, and the Contemporary Club. She also served on the President’s Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services from 1961-1965.

Boyer was also dedicated to her family. She married William Simpson Godfrey, president of Wm. Simpson Sons & Co., on June 9, 1915. Together they had four children: Patricia, William, Jr., Thomas B.A., and Peter. After his death in 1947, Boyer married Francis Boyer, chairman of Smith Kline & French.

In 1987, the Museum’s Centennial Year, the Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Medal was established in her honor to recognize the outstanding service of non-academic supporters of the institution. The medal is awarded once every 4 to 5 years.

The Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Collection was donated by Boyer herself in 1985 and consists of correspondence and a bound volume, spanning the years 1941-1979, from the time she served at the Museum and extending past her resignation. Most of this material relates to the Penn Museum.

The correspondence includes congratulatory letters from acquaintances on her appointment as secretary of the Museum, dating from July 17-18, 1941. There is also a series of letters of appreciation for her work both at the Museum and at the University Hospital that spans the years 1942-1948. From 1949, the year of her resignation, are letters from colleagues expressing gratitude and well wishes in her future endeavors, as well as a Christmas card signed by the Penn Museum staff. Also included are notes from the board meeting in which her resignation was announced. The correspondence also includes letters from 1960, most acknowledging her resignation from the University Hospital Board. Letters from 1961, accompanied by a news clipping, extend congratulations on her appointment to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. The remaining letters, dating from 1972-1979, include appeals for financial support for the Museum along with a statement of plans for development. Additionally included in the correspondence are handwritten pages of notes containing information about the Museum for use in board meetings and a note written by Ms. Boyer that bestows the collection to the Museum.

The bound volume is a commemorative book given to Ms. Boyer in 1947 as a token for her work at the Museum as secretary.

Academy of Music 118th Anniversary Concert & Ball Program Book (Jan. 25, 1975) Journal of the Eleventh Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Harrisburg. The Star Independent Print: Harrisburg, pp. 57, (1915). Main Line Times (6/4/1964) Philadelphia Bulletin (6/8/1945) Philadelphia Inquirer (10/20/1989) Philadelphia Inquirer (6/6/1945) Piedras Negras Archaeology, 1931-1939. Penn Museum. Satterthwaite, Linton, et al. pp. 386, (2005). Memorandum. Swift, Gloria. (Nov. 19, 1981). Women in Archaeology/Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Emily Romanello
Finding Aid Date
July 30, 2015

Collection Inventory

Museum Appt. 1941.
Box 1
Museum [nd-1948].
Box 1
Museum Retirement [1949].
Box 1
Misc. [nd-1960].
Box 1
Defense Advisory Committee [1961].
Box 1
Museum [1972-1979].
Box 1
Museum Infor [nd].
Box 1
Collection Correspondence [1985].
Box 1
Bound Volume 1947.
Box 1

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