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Hawes, Harriet Boyd

Harriet Boyd Hawes

Harriet Boyd Hawes was born on October 11, 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was educated at the Prospect Hill School in Greenfield and graduated from Smith College in 1892 with a degree in classics. Hawes always felt a deep love for Greece and a strong desire to understand its culture and history. She studied at the American School at Athens from 1896-97 and the next year became a Fellow there. While in Greece, she learned that the Greeks (who were in the midst of the first Greco-Turkish War) had no nursing supplies and with support from the Queen of Greece soon became a nursing volunteer. Several years later she was decorated by the Queen for her contributions.

Hawes soon became well known not only for her volunteer work but also for her expertise in the field of archaeology. For four months in the spring of 1900, she led an excavation at Kavousi, Crete during which she discovered houses and tombs from the Geometric period (900 BC). During another excavation less than a year later in Gournia, Crete, she discovered a Mycenaean provincial town and later published a book entitled, Crete: the Forerunner of Greece.

Hawes accepted a position at Smith College teaching Greek and Archaeology in 1900 and received her M.A. from Smith in 1901. She taught at Smith until 1905 interspersing her time there with frequent trips abroad for archaeological excursions. During one trip to Crete, she met Charles Henry Hawes, an English anthropologist and archeologist who later became the associate director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They were married on March 3, 1906 and nine months later their son, Alexander Boyd Hawes was born. A daughter, Mary Nesbit Hawes followed in August of 1910. By this time Charles was teaching at Dartmouth and the family was living in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Despite her commitment to her family, Hawes remained active in both humanities and her field of archaeology. In 1910, Hawes received an honorary degree from Smith College. She traveled to Corfu in 1915 for a year to work extensively with the Serbian Army. In 1916, she helped the wounded in France and a year later she founded and was the first director of the Smith College Relief Unit in France. She held this title for three years during which time she worked as a nurse’s aide at the YMCA.

In 1920, the Hawes’ moved to Cambridge and Harriet joined the faculty at Wellesley lecturing on Ancient Art. When Charles retired in 1936, the couple moved to Washington D.C. where Harriet remained after her husband died. She died on March 31, 1945.

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