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‘An Awfully Nice Job’. Kathleen Kenyon as Secretary and Acting Director of the University of London Institute of Archaeology, 1935-1947.

Author:

Katie Louise Meheux

UCL Institute of Archaeology Library, UCL Library Services, GB
About Katie
Deputy Librarian and Acting Site Librarian, UCL Institute of Archaeology Library
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Abstract

Research on the Institute of Archaeology Library Archive has unearthed a number of letters written by Kathleen Kenyon during her early career as Secretary and later Acting Director of the Institute of Archaeology, 1935-1947. These letters shed light on Kenyon’s early career and the importance of her role in the newly founded Institute of Archaeology. They reveal the versatility required of her, with responsibilities ranging from sorting out drains to collecting library books, giving tours, negotiating funds and stepping in for Mortimer Wheeler. Kenyon’s capacity for hard work and her efficiency are clearly visible and her passion for archaeology and her fierce devotion to the Institute shine through. The letters also demonstrate Kenyon’s lesser known kindness, charm, tact and ability to deal with difficult people and situations. The letters also reveal the vibrancy of the amateur archaeological community between the wars and the hard, unglamorous and unacknowledged work done by administrators and volunteers. Many of the administrators that Kenyon worked with were women, who like Kenyon came to adulthood in the inter-war period, when opportunities for women were expanding. The language of these letters reveals that these were New Women – worldly wise, briskly competent, ironic, unemotional and self-controlled, women who represented a new model of modernity for the 20th century. But modernity did not guarantee success and there are hints that although Kenyon owed much to her father, Sir Frederick Kenyon, this relationship also constrained her and she had to work hard to establish her own independence and authority as an archaeologist.
How to Cite: Meheux, K.L., 2018. ‘An Awfully Nice Job’. Kathleen Kenyon as Secretary and Acting Director of the University of London Institute of Archaeology, 1935-1947.. Archaeology International, 21, pp.122–140. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ai-379
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  Published on 05 Dec 2018

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