Bryn Mawr College Art & Archaeology Collections

The Private Collection of Lucy Shoe Meritt

Winter 2004 through Winter 2005
Rhys Carpenter Library for Art, Archaeology, Cities, and Classics
Kaiser and Fong Reading Rooms

This exhibition celebrates the life and work of Lucy Shoe Meritt A.B. ’27, M.A. ’28, Ph.D. ’35 by displaying her personal study collection which was recently acquired by Bryn Mawr College Collections. The collection consists of pottery and objects acquired by Dr. Meritt during her travels in Greece and Italy in the 1930’s, 50’s and 60’s while she was conducting her renowned study of Greek, Etruscan and Roman architectural mouldings. The Fong Reading Room case contains terracottas, lamps, glass vessels, metal objects, and architectural specimens from Dr. Meritt’s collection; while the Kaiser Reading Room case contains examples of some of the pottery in Dr. Meritt’s collection. Photographs taken by and of Dr. Meritt during her comprehensive study of architectural mouldings are also included in the cases.

Lucy Shoe Meritt, born in Camden, NJ in 1906, was first exposed to archaeology at the age of nine at an exhibition of stereoscopic views of Pompeii at Philadelphia’s Memorial Hall Museum. Although her family moved to Texas, Lucy came back to Philadelphia to attend Philadelphia High School for Girls and Bryn Mawr College where she earned her A.B. in 1927, M.A. in 1928, and her Ph.D. in 1935. In 1929, Dr. Meritt began her research at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens to prove that there were important chronological distinctions in ancient Greek architectural mouldings.

Dr. Meritt continued to document profiles of architectural elements from numerous buildings in mainland Greece from 1930-1934. Her findings were published in Profiles of Greek Mouldings in 1936. She then went on to study architectural mouldings in Sicily and Magna Graecia through a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 1936-37 and again in 1949-50. This study was published in Profiles of Western Greek Mouldings in 1952. She also studied Etruscan and Roman Republican buildings and found that Italic architecture was based on different

principles from Greek architecture, and that unlike Greek architecture, the Italic mouldings varied regionally rather than chronologically like Greek. These findings were published in 1965 as Etruscan and Republican Roman Mouldings in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, XXVIII (republished in 2000).

Lucy Shoe Meritt also held the position of Editor of Publications of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and was appointed Professor of Classical Archaeology and Visiting Scholar of the Department of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas at Austin. She spent the rest of her days at Austin studying her mouldings, teaching, and inspiring students. In Austin in 2003, Dr. Lucy Shoe Meritt passed away at the age of 96, but not without leaving her unforgettable legacy in the field of classical architectural chronology.

For more information on Lucy Shoe Meritt’s work, her major publications can be found in Carpenter Library.

  • Etruscan and Republican Roman Mouldings, 1965. (shelf II8)
  • Etruscan and Republican Roman Mouldings, 2nd ed., 2000. (shelf W29)
  • Profiles of Greek Mouldings, 1936. (shelf N27)
  • Profiles of Western Greek Mouldings, 1952. (shelf N27)
  • History of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1939-1980, 1984. ( DF212.5.A44 M47 1984)

Image Credits

  • Top image: from Meritt and Edlund-Berry, Etruscan and Republican Roman Mouldings, 2000. Figure A, "Template recording profiles of Greek mouldings on the Acropolis at Athens."
  • Second image: Egg and Dart Moulding, Bequest of Lucy Shoe Meritt '27, MA '28, PhD '35, Bryn Mawr College Collections.
  • Third image: 6th century Boeotian terracotta figurine, Bequest of Lucy Shoe Meritt '27, MA '28, PhD '35, Bryn Mawr College Collections.
  • Fourth and fifth images are of the exhibition as installed in Carpenter Library.

Exhibition curated by Catherine Person, Master’s Candidate in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology.

Special thanks to Ingrid Edlund-Berry and Chris Williams at ICA at the University of Texas at Austin; and to Tamara Johnston, Carol Campbell, and Will Bucher for their help and guidance.

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