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Harriet Boyd Hawes Papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00102

Scope and Contents

The Harriet Boyd Hawes Papers document her work as an archaeologist and as a nurse and relief worker in three wars. They contain a large amount of writings, both published and unpublished, on various subjects relating to her professional work and volunteer activities as well as her political opinions. There is personal, and professional correspondence dating from 1886-1945 and a small amount of material on her career as a college instructor at Smith and Wellesley Colleges.

The material is arranged in five series: Biographical Material, Correspondence, Professional Life, Publications and Activities. Where appropriate, correspondence and publications may have been placed under one of the other headings.

The material relating to Hawes' professional life documents her excavations on Crete (1900-04) and contains correspondence, journals, news clippings, some notes on excavations and photographs of sites, objects and graves. Included are photographs of objects that are housed in the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Publications include drafts of published and unpublished books and articles on ancient art and on her field work, plus one short story and scenarios intended for films.

Hawes' work as a nurse and relief worker in the Greco-Turkish War in 1897 is documented in detail. There are drafts of her manuscripts In Defense of Crete (1914) and Greek Cross and Red Cross (1898?) plus news articles, clippings and some photographs. Her World War I activities are documented in various accounts of her experiences as a representative of the American Distributing Service on Corfu where she organized a hospital for the wounded and ill of the Serbian Army (1915-16). There are approximately 30 photographs of the facility, its staff and surroundings. Hawes' work with the Smith College Relief Unit (1917-18) is documented by correspondence and writings on the founding of the Unit, plus a journal, news clippings and photographs.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1874 - 1967


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Harriet Boyd Hawes was born on October 11, 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was educated at the Prospect Hill School in Greenfield and graduated from Smith College in 1892 with a degree in classics. Hawes always felt a deep love for Greece and a strong desire to understand its culture and history. She studied at the American School at Athens from 1896-97 and the next year became a Fellow there. While in Greece, she learned that the Greeks (who were in the midst of the first Greco-Turkish War) had no nursing supplies and with support from the Queen of Greece soon became a nursing volunteer. Several years later she was decorated by the Queen for her contributions.

Hawes soon became well known not only for her volunteer work but also for her expertise in the field of archaeology. For four months in the spring of 1900, she led an excavation at Kavousi, Crete during which she discovered houses and tombs from the Geometric period (900 BC). During another excavation less than a year later in Gournia, Crete, she discovered a Mycenaean provincial town and later published a book entitled, Crete: the Forerunner of Greece.

Hawes accepted a position at Smith College teaching Greek archaeology in 1900 and received her M.A. from Smith in 1901. She taught at Smith until 1905 interspersing her time there with frequent trips abroad for archaeological excursions. During one trip to Crete, she met Charles Henry Hawes, an English anthropologist and archeologist who later became the associate director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They were married on March 3, 1906 and nine months later their son, Alexander Boyd Hawes was born. A daughter, Mary Nesbit Hawes followed in August of 1910. By this time Charles was teaching at Dartmouth and the family was living in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Despite her commitment to her family, Hawes remained active in both humanities and her field of archaeology. In 1910, Hawes received an honorary degree from Smith College. She traveled to Corfu in 1915 for a year to work extensively with the Serbian Army. In 1916, she helped the wounded in France and a year later she founded and was the first director of the Smith College Relief Unit in France. She held this title for three years during which time she worked as a nurse's aide at the YMCA.

In 1920, the Hawes' moved to Cambridge and Harriet joined the faculty at Wellesley lecturing on Ancient Art. When Charles retired in 1936, the couple moved to Washington D.C. where Harriet remained after her husband died. She died on March 31, 1945.

Biographical / Historical

Born Boston, Massachusetts, October 11
Teacher of Classics, schools in North Carolina and Delaware
Graduated from Smith College
Graduate work, American School of Classical Studies, Athens
Nurse and relief worker in Thessaly with Greek Army, Greco-Turkish War
Fellow of American School of Classical Studies, Athens
Nurse Spanish-American War in Tampa, Florida - Summer
Agnes Hoppin Memorial Fellow, Bryn Mawr College
Excavation at Kavousi, Crete - May-June
Part-time Instructor, Smith College in Archaeology, Epigraphy and modern Greek
Director of excavations of the American Exploration Society - Gournia, Crete, Assisted by Blanche Emily Wheeler 1892.
M.A. Smith College
First woman invited to address the Societies of the Archaeological Institute of American
Married Charles Henry Hawes
Awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, Smith College
Established hospital for wounded and ill on Corfu for Serbian army - World War I
Organizer and first Director of Smith College Relief Unit in France - World War I
Nurse's aid with YMCA at American Hospital, Longchamps - World War I
Lecturer in Ancient Art, Wellesley College
Sued by A.R. Hyde and Son, for damages resulting from her involvement in company strike
Traveled to Czechoslovakia during take-over of Sudetenland, detained by German authorities
Died March 31, Washington, D.C.


5.083 linear feet (13 containers)

Language of Materials



Instructor of Greek, archaeologist, nurse, relief worker. Contains writings, correspondence, journals, news clippings, notes, photographs, and publications.


This collection is organized into five series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Professional Life
  4. IV. Publications
  5. V. Activities

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Harriet Boyd Hawes were given to Smith College by her daughter, Mrs. Mary Nesbit Allsebrook in 1967. Additional material was received in 1982 from Phyllis Lehmann, a student of Hawes and Professor Emeritus of Art at Smith College.

Related Material

  1. 12. Smith College Relief Unit
  2. 12. Symposium: Land Called Crete, 1967
  3. University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Harriet Boyd Hawes Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca102 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-13: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063