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This blog was created by the staff at the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C., to chronicle the assessment and processing of the Robert L. Van Nice Records and Fieldwork Collection (1937-1985).  If you have any questions, please contact us at icfa@doaks.org.

The Collection:

The 70+ boxes of research materials and drawings of Van Nice collection document the large scale architectural survey of Hagia Sophia conducted in Istanbul, Turkey from the late 1930’s to the mid 1980’s. Dumbarton Oaks took over responsibility for publication of the detailed architectural plates that Van Nice and his assistants produced from their fieldwork, the first installment of which appeared in 1965.  This installment, published as collotypes in an elephant folio edition has drawn universal praise for its beauty and high standards. In 1986 the second installment was published as a series of plates designed to be added to the same portfolio as the first installment.  A more synthetic narrative to accompany the plates was planned but never finished.

Materials produced during Van Nice’s survey include notebooks, research papers, rubbings of graffiti, brick stamps, and mason’s marks, blue prints, drawings, B&W photographs, slides, negatives, correspondence, and administrative papers. The papers have never been fully processed until now, and we hope to describe here the new things that we find and the lessons we learn while tackling this large and rich collection.

The Creator:

Robert Lawrence Van Nice (1910-1994) was born in Portland, Oregon, and graduated from the University of Oregon before receiving a Masters degree in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He conducted a large scale study of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, from 1937-1985.  William Emerson, a professor of Van Nice’s at MIT, sponsored the architectural survey from 1937-1957, with Van Nice as his assistant. Dumbarton Oaks then sponsored the project from 1957 until 1985.  Van Nice was a Research Associate of Dumbarton Oaks starting in 1955.

Project Team:

Clare Moran, Intern: Blog author and processing assistant

Rona Razon, Archives Specialist: Supervisory archivist

Shalimar White, Manager, ICFA: Project coordinator

Unless otherwise noted, the images used in this blog are the property of the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections.  For permission to use any of these photos, please contact icfa@doaks.org. Thank you!


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