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Mariam Coffin Canaday, A.B. 1906 (Latin & English): influential patron or archaeology and Classical Studies

Biographical sketch by Jennifer Furia '99

Many of us Mawrtyrs find ourselves spending many hours in the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library. Just who was Mariam Coffin Canaday anyway? She was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 12 December 1883. Mariam went on to receive an A.B. degree in Latin and English at Bryn Mawr College in 1906. This, however, was just the beginning of a very distinguished career.

After graduation from Bryn Mawr, Mariam went on to teach Latin and English in a Newark, New Jersey preparatory school for five years. During this time she married Ward Canaday who was chairman of the board of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Even though Mariam had no formal training in archaeology, she had a true interest in the subject, and was widely read in it. This interest eventually led to the Canadays' support and influence in the excavation and restoration of the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos in the agora of Athens during the 1950s. The Stoa is now a museum housing artifacts discovered by the American School of Classical Studies. Mariam and Ward Canaday were personal representatives of President Eisenhower and the guests of King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece at the dedication of the museum in 1953.

Returning to her native state, Mariam organized the Toledo chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America during the 1950s. Previously, during World War II, Mariam worked for the Greek War Relief, which was the Toledo chapter of "Bundles for Britain". Mariam and her husband also helped to expand the Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Department at Bryn Mawr, and contributed the funds to the library which now bears her name. Mariam Coffin Canaday died on 22 December 1974, but her contributions to the Classics and Archaeology world are forever immortalized at Bryn Mawr College.