History

1879 In late-19th-century Boston, Harvard University professor Charles Eliot Norton was at the center of the intellectual and cultural "flowering of New England." He invited his colleagues and friends to help form a society "for furthering and directing archaeological and artistic investigation and research." One hundred and eight people attended the first meeting in 1879, and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) was born. Norton was elected the AIA's first president, and his words continue to inspire the Institute today: "The night of time far surpasseth the day, and it is the task of archaeology to light up some of this long night with its torch, which burns ever with a clearer flame with each advancing step into the darkness."
 
1880 The AIA provides support for its first archaeological excavation when it assists Adolph Bandelier with his research at prehistoric sites in the Southwestern United States and in Mexico. In the following decades, the Institute would sponsor additional excavations in Crete, Iraq, Italy, Greece, Guatemala, North Africa, and Turkey.
 
1882 The AIA establishes the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece.
 
1884 The first Local Society of the AIA is founded in Boston.
 
1885 The American Journal of Archaeology debuts.
 
1895 The AIA establishes the American School of Classical Studies in Rome, Italy.

The National Lecture Program created to provide archaeological presentations to AIA Local Societies.

1898 The first Annual Meeting of the AIA held in New Haven, Connecticut.
 
1899 The AIA establishes the American School for Oriental Study and Research in Jerusalem.
 
1906 President Theodore Roosevelt signs the AIA's Congressional Charter, which is later renewed under the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
 
1907 The AIA establishes the School of American Archaeology in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It later becomes the School of American Research.
 
1911 The AIA moves its headquarters to Washington, D.C., where it shares the Octagon with the American Institute of Architects (also known as the AIA).
 
1921 The AIA and the American Anthropological Association establish the American School of Prehistoric Research.
 
1942 The Annual Meeting of the AIA suspended for the duration of World War II.
 
1944 The American Council of Learned Societies transfers publication of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum to the AIA.
 
1946 The AIA launches a newsletter that provides its Membership with information about the Institute's archaeological excavations and other activities.
 
1948 ARCHAEOLOGY magazine debuts.
 
1951 The AIA establishes the American Research Center in Egypt.
 
1961 The Fellowship Program begins when the AIA receives the Olivia James Trust from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The following year, William B. Dinsmoor, Jr., receives the first Olivia James Fellowship.
 
1965 The Award Program begins when Leon and Harriet Pomerance provide support for the AIA's first Gold Medal, which is given to Carl W. Blegen in recognition of his significant contributions to the archaeology profession.
 
1967

The first woman becomes President of the AIA: Margaret Thompson.

The Tour Program begins with several trips to archaeological sites in Africa.

The AIA becomes charter member of the American Institute of Iranian Studies in Tehran.

1983 Governor Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts proclaims "Archaeological Institute of America Day" in the Commonwealth when the AIA announces that it will relocate its national headquarters to the campus of Boston University.
 
1989 The AIA, the American Schools of Oriental Research, and the Society for Historical Archaeology hold the first Joint Archaeological Congress.
 
1990 The Society for the American Journal of Archaeology is created to receive charitable donations in support of the Journal.
 
1993 The first person from outside the United States becomes President of the AIA: James Russell.
 
1994 The Archaeological Institute of America/Institut Archaéologique d'Amérique is formed in Canada as an independent affiliate of the Institute. Its purpose is to allow Canadian citizens to make tax-deductible donations to the organization.
 
1999 Dig, the Institute's magazine for children ages 8 to 13, debuts.
 
2002 The AIA participates in landmark federal court case focusing on illicit trade in antiquities.
2005 The AIA awards its first Site Preservation Grant to Assos in Turkey.
2007 The Waldbaum Field School Scholarship and Minority Scholarship programs for undergraduates are established.
2009 The AIA creates an expanded grant program to support the programs of its Local Societies and our first fund-raising gala in New York City celebrates the 130th anniversary of the Institute and the 60th anniversary of ARCHAEOLOGY magazine.
2011 A proclamation is issued by the United States Congress declaring an official "National Archaeology Day" in October.

 

Archives

The archives of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is a collection of paper, photographic, and audio-visual materials documenting the history of the Institute from its founding in 1879 to the present. The collection consists of 170 archival boxes (57 cubic feet), located at AIA headquarters in Boston. The materials have been collected from past officers, governing board members, committee members, and staff of the Institute. Also included in the collection are materials from the American Journal of Archaeology and Archaeology magazine. The paper materials include correspondence, reports, office documentation, clippings, circulars, telegrams, and programs.

A box list of archival materials is available here [download pdf]. The box list gives a good overview of the holdings of the collection as well as the time span of the materials. Researchers are encouraged to consult AIA Bulletins for information before searching the archives. Questions about specific items should be directed to archives@aia.bu.edu. The archives are available to researchers by request only.

The papers of President Robert H. Dyson, Jr. are restricted until 2020. Files relating the personnel of the AIA are restricted for the five years following their termination date.

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