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Mary Hamilton Swindler papers

Identifier: BMC-2001-01

Scope and Contents

The Mary Hamilton Swindler papers contain the personal papers of Mary Swindler, professor of Archaeology and Classics at Bryn Mawr. The collection, which ranges from 1906 to 1949, principally consists of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, and notebooks.

The collection is divided into five series: “Series I: Correspondence and Scrapbooks,” “Series II: Typed Manuscripts,” “Series III: Manuscript-The Beginnings of Greek Art,” “Series IV: Biographical Notes, Personal Materials, Notes,” and “Series V: Notebooks.”

“Series I: Correspondence and Scrapbooks” contains loose correspondence received from the Archaeology Department and scrapbooks. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The scrapbooks, apparently assembled by Swindler herself, also contain much correspondence. She arranged these materials chronologically and they document the key events of her life. “Series II: Typed Manuscripts” contains Swindler’s manuscripts, which cover a variety of topics and are often hand-edited. Most do not indicate whether they were drafts for articles or lectures. They have been arranged by title, or topic when untitled. “Series III: Manuscript-The Beginning of Greek Art” contains what are believed to be the latest drafts of The Beginning of Greek Art are housed in folders 26 and 27 in Box 3. “Series IV: Biographical Notes, Personal Materials, Notes” contains Swindler’s CV and biographical information; her dissertation: Cretan Elements in the Cults and Ritual of Apollo; various awards received by Swindler; correspondence related to her academic posts; and “notes on cards.” These are notes in Swindler's hand transcribed on sheets of cardboard that Swindler obtained from male members of the faculty, who saved them for her when they had their shirts professionally laundered. Swindler's students are said to have found this amusing. These personal materials and information relating to Swindler's various awards are among the items that have resided the longest in the college archives. “Series V: Notebooks” consists of titled notebooks and untitled notebooks. Sarah Immerwahr, who donated them, was uncertain as to the purpose of Swindler's notebooks. However, when contacted in 2005, she guessed that they had been collections of material that Swindler might have intended someday to use for articles, lectures, or other projects. They are organized by topic. Eleven notebooks are untitled and contain miscellaneous information.

Swindler was a highly respected archaeologist, who studied and published on ancient painting and Greek art and introduced the archaeology major to Bryn Mawr College. This collection provides insight into her professional and academic careers. It would be of value to those interested in the founding of the Bryn Mawr Archaeology Department, Swindler’s topics of research, the Tarsus excavation, etc.


  • Creation: 1906 - 1949


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

The Mary Hamilton Swindler papers are the physical property of Bryn Mawr College's Special Collections department. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Hamilton Swindler first came to Bryn Mawr College in 1906 as a graduate scholar in Greek. From 1912 until 1949 she taught Archaeology and Classics at the college, a role in which she inspired many students to enter to field, including Dorothy Burr Thompson (class of 1923) and Lucy Shoe Meritt (class of 1927). Swindler is also known for having spent 14 years as editor of the American Journal of Archaeology, and having written the well received and influential book Ancient Painting.

Born in Bloomington, Indiana in 1884, Swindler graduated from the University of Indiana in 1905 and received her master's degree from the same university in 1906. Her fellowship at Bryn Mawr lasted from 1906 until 1909 when the Mary E. Garrett European Fellowship permitted her to study at Oxford, the University of Berlin, and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She also traveled to Greece and Crete.

From 1910 to 1912 Swindler taught Latin at the Shipley School and the Wright School and served as acting dean of women at the University of Indiana during the summers of 1911 and 1913. Swindler received her PhD. from Bryn Mawr College in 1912. Her teaching career at Bryn Mawr began in 1912 with positions as Reader in Latin and Demonstrator in Archaeology. She became professor of Classical Archaeology in 1931. Swindler introduced the major in archaeology at Bryn Mawr, organized the excavation of Tarsus, and founded the college's Ella Riegel Memorial Museum.

Swindler spent fifteen years researching her book Ancient Painting, which was published in 1929. She planned a second major work to be titled The Beginning of Greek Art, but never finalized her manuscript. He editorship of the American Journal of Archaeology lasted from 1932 to 1946 and is said to have transformed the journal into a more professional periodical with more field coverage. She was also well known as a lecturer.

Upon her retirement in 1949, she was appointed research fellow at the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania and also taught at the University of Michigan. She died in 1967.

For more information see "Exploring Ancient Worlds: The Life of Mary Hamilton Swindler," by Catherine E. Forrest Weber published in the journal Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, Spring 2005, pps. 6-11.


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Born in Bloomington, Indiana in 1884, Mary Hamilton Swindler graduated from the University of Indiana in 1905 and received her master's degree from the same university in 1906. Swindler first came to Bryn Mawr College in 1906 as a graduate scholar in Greek. From 1912 until 1949 she taught Archaeology and Classics at the college. The collection consists of loose correspondence received from the Archaeology Department, scrapbooks and notebooks, miscellaneous correspondence and manuscript drafts.

Custodial History

Materials in the collection were received by the college archives in stages over the course of several years. Most of the personal materials and scrapbooks have been in the college archives since the early 1970s, provenance unknown. During the 1990s a faculty member, possibly Machteld Mellink, delivered what she believed to be the latest version of Swindler's unpublished manuscript: The Beginning of Greek Art. In 2000 Swindler's student and friend Sarah Immerwahr mailed the notebooks to the college without accompanying documentation. The remainder of the materials (manuscripts, correspondence, and other drafts of the unfinished book) were stored in the Archaeology Department for many years after having been removed from Arnecliffe, where Swindler resided for some time. These materials were organized during the summer of 2005 and received by the college archives where the entire collection was reorganized and rehoused.

Mary Hamilton Swindler papers
Lorett Treese, Melissa Torquato
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting reproductions from Bryn Mawr College Library

Bryn Mawr College Library
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