Breaking Ground: Women’s Roles in the History of Egyptology
When historians write about early women in Egyptology, we try to bring them into the excavation narrative when, many times, they simply do not show up there often enough. There is nothing wrong with this; it is simply that early archaeology tended to be strictly gendered in its roles for men and women. Men dug; women, for the most part, did not. Historical narratives become stale and stilted when we look only for women archaeologists in the field and not in the places where they were most active—home institutions. This talk presents a shift from that narrative of women as fieldwork innovators to women as institutional administrators and network hubs who did not necessarily do the exciting work, but who maintained the foundational universities, museums, societies, and collections forming the center of the work. If we focus on the jobs women did in the early days of the discipline, we will understand the reality of their undeniably ground breaking work more so than if we try to find them in the excavation pit. I will present case studies of two important American women in the early twentieth century, diarist Emma Andrews and curator Caroline Ransom Williams, that will illustrate that women were central, not peripheral, to Egyptian archaeology and Egyptology in crucial but not usually recognized ways.
Formerly titled "Women's Roles in Early Egyptology."
Dr. Kathleen Sheppard
Kathleen Sheppard is Associate Professor at Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri. She is a historian of science who studies the history of archaeology in Britain and the United States. She is the author of a scientific biography of Margaret Alice Murray (Lexington Press, 2013), and the newly published correspondence collection between Caroline Ransom Williams and James Henry Breasted from Archaeopress (2018). She is also an administrator for the Histories of Archaeology Research Network (HARN) and a contributing editor for Lady Science.