Division of Archaeology

Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Pamela Jane Smith

From ‘small, dark and alive’ to ‘cripplingly shy’: Dorothy Garrod as the first woman Professor at Cambridge

By Pamela Jane Smith
Lucy Cavendish College
Cambridge University

In May 1939, the mathematical physicist, Dr Bertha Swirles, later Lady Jeffreys, was taking a train from Cambridge to Manchester when she met Manchester Professor of Geography H. J. Fleure. Fleure had just participated in the Cambridge meeting that had elected Dorothy Garrod to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology. According to Fleure, when the Electors gave their decision to Vice-Chancellor Dean, the Vice-Chancellor replied "Gentlemen, you have presented us with a problem."

The Vice-Chancellor was correct. Being female, Garrod was not a full member of Cambridge University. Yet as Professor she became eligible to serve on the Council of the Senate, and all members of the Council were by definition members of the University. Had she been chosen to serve on the Council, an awkward situation would have occurred. This amused Fleure (Lady Jeffreys, in conversation, 1998), who was favourably disposed to electing Garrod (Daniel 1986: 98). He was from Manchester, where women were admitted to degrees and was accustomed to the idea of women in higher academic ranks. The Electors seem to have chosen the best candidate without concern for administrative repercussions.

There is no hint of controversy surrounding this important election. The entry in the Elections’ minute book for 5 May 1939 is according to form. There was no attempt to suspend the proceedings, to suggest alternatives or to request time to advertise for or to interview additional applicants, as had happened during some previous Cambridge professorial elections (Elections to Professorships: University Archives O.XIV.54).

The eight Electors, bastions of respectability and academic power, met in the usual way, discussed the small field of candidates for a respectable time, reconvened the following morning, and quickly voted for Garrod. There is not the least sign of strong disagreement.

[Figure 1---image pending]
Figure 1. "Dear Mr Vice-Chancellor, I beg to submit myself as a candidate for the vacant Disney Professorship of Archaeology," Dorothy Garrod wrote in her Professorial application, 16 March 1939 (Box 72, Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin de la Bibliothèque du Musée des Antiquités Nationales de Saint Germain-en-Laye). Although women became eligible for all University teaching offices and for membership to Faculties and Faculty Boards under Cambridge University’s New Statutes of 1926, they were still not admissible to degrees and could not thus become members of the Senate and the Regent House. Garrod’s election highlighted the contradiction inherent in this situation. By courtesy of the Cambridge University Archive; University Library.

Dorothy Garrod was chosen because of her qualifications. She was the best candidate for the position in several ways. Trained by R. R. Marett at Oxford and the Abbé Henri Breuil in France, she was renowned for her excavations in Gibraltar, Palestine, Southern Kurdistan, Anatolia, and Bulgaria. By 1939, Garrod was one of Britain’s finest archaeologists. She had discovered the well-preserved skull fragments of ‘Abel’, a Neanderthal child, in Gibraltar, identified the Natufian culture while excavating Shukbah near Jerusalem, directed the large, long term excavations at Mt Carmel, established the Palaeolithic succession for that crucial region and then travelled, in 1938, to explore the important Palaeolithic cave of Bacho Kiro in Bulgaria. Published reports of her excavations had appeared promptly and had been very favourably reviewed. The Mesolithic prehistorian, Grahame Clark, who was to succeed her to the Disney Chair in 1952, described Garrod’s The Stone Age of Mount Carmel (1937) as "pure gold" (Clark 1937: 488). Following the publication of this volume, Garrod was awarded Honorary Doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania and Boston College and a DSc. from Oxford University.

In addition, by 1939, Garrod had shown some administrative and teaching ability. She was Newnham’s Director of Studies for Archaeology and Anthropology since 1934; she had served on College committees and been briefly on the Faculty Board in 1936; and she is remembered by her students as an "excellent supervisor---gentle and organised" (Joan Lillico, First Class Honours 1935, personal correspond-ence, 1998).

Garrod’s application was helped by political considerations and by who her competitors were. There is no official record of who was considered, but a list can be reconstructed from unpublished and published memoirs and interviews with relatives and former students. One possibility is problematical. There are conflicting reports on whether Gertrude Caton Thompson, respected internationally for her intensive, innovative archaeological investigation of the later Stone age in Egypt, wanted the Professorship. A close relative of Garrod clearly remembers Caton Thompson expressing regret that she was not chosen for the position (Garrod biographer, Jane Callander, personal communication, 1998). But former Disney Professor Glyn Daniel (1986: 98), writes in his Memoirs that "the Electors first offered the Chair to Caton Thompson, who had not applied, and … when she declined, appointed Dorothy Garrod". Since there is no corroborating evidence either way, we can say no more than that Caton Thompson was considered.

[Figure 2---image pending]
Figure 2. Dorothy Garrod at the Devil’s Tower, Gibraltar, 1926. By the time Garrod applied for the Disney Chair, her achievements were well known to a wide public as well as within Academe. Here she holds the skull fragments of the Neanderthal child, ‘Abel’, found during her excavation at Devil’s Tower, Gibraltar, 1926, which was amply covered in the press. "The Gibraltar skull, an important new link in the record of prehistoric man, was found last June by Miss D.A.E. Garrod … Miss Garrod recently read a paper on her discovery before the Anthropology Section of the British Association at Oxford" (The Illustrated London News, August 28, 1926). Photograph reproduced by courtesy Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin, MAN.

Christopher Hawkes, in 1946 appointed foundation Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford, did certainly apply (Webster 1991: 234 and Dr. Sonia Chadwick Hawkes, personal communication, 1996). But, in 1939, he was a man of merely thirty four years whose career, in comparison to the other candidates, was not yet established.

The first of the major contenders was the prehistorian Miles Burkitt, son of Cambridge Norrisian Professor of Divinity, F. C. Burkitt. "It was thought by many inevitable that the Disney Chair ought to and would go to Miles Burkitt," wrote Daniel (1986: 97). Burkitt was the first to teach prehistoric archaeology at Cambridge University, introducing the subject in 1915. He was a long-term, devoted member of the Faculty Board of Archaeology and Anthropology, an able administrator and is remembered by Thurstan Shaw, (First Class Honours, 1936, later Professor of Archaeology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria), and J. D. Clark (First Class Honours 1937, later Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley), as an inspiring lecturer. His publications, Prehistory (1921) and The Old Stone Age(1933) were standard introductory texts for Faculty courses. Yet, he had no experience directing excavations and he was not reputed to be an original researcher. The Faculty Board had declined to nominate him for a Senior Doctorate (Faculty Minute Book: 5 March 1929). In addition, internationally known, influential prehistorians such as the Abbé Breuil, Professeur au Collège de France et à l’Insitut de Paléontologie Humaine, considered Garrod to be a superior candidate (Testimonial on Garrod’s qualifications for the Disney Professorship by Breuil. Box 72: Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin, MAN).

Daniel (1986: 97) also claims that the Anglo-Saxon archaeologist, Tom Lethbridge, ‘put in’ for the Professorship. This claim is supported by a passage from Lethbridge’s unpublished memoirs. He had taught archaeology from the mid-1920s to the early 1950s at Cambridge and entered the arena at the request of those opposed to a non-Cambridge man.

"There was an obvious candidate [Burkitt] for the Professorship but there was also a candidate from outside. Louis [Clarke, the Museum Curator] said it would be a real disaster for Cambridge if this one were elected and … persuaded me to stand to keep this man out"
(Lethbridge [1965]: 100).

Probably the ‘outsider’ was Mortimer Wheeler, who Daniel (1986: 97) states ‘put in’ for the position. Wheeler at that time was involved as Honorary Director of London University’s Institute of Archaeology that he and his wife, Tessa, founded in the mid 1930s, and had not formally applied but the British archaeological community was small and an informal inquiry would have been sufficient. He was "a brilliant organizer, a born excavator, a dynamic and forceful character" but was also considered a "bounder" by some members of the Cambridge Faculty (Daniel 1986: 407-8). He could easily have been one of those discussed among the "other persons mentioned by the electors"(Minute Book: 5 May 1939). By implication one of the Electors who might have voted for Wheeler was diverted by Lethbridge’s candidacy.

A highly qualified woman was a more pleasing alternative than an ‘outsider’. Thus we can add the fact that Garrod was a ‘Cambridge man’ to her list of qualifications. "All went well," Lethbridge ([1965]: 100) concludes: "the proper man got in."

Garrod’s Papers

Regardless of her accomplishments, Garrod has remained a ‘shadowy figure’. Until recently, her correspondence and manuscripts were believed destroyed. Persistent rumours suggested she had burnt her literary remains. In consequence, Garrod’s life and brilliant career have not been biographically documented.

As part of my Ph.D research into the generation and institution of prehistory at Cambridge University, I came across a vast store of Garrod‘s unpublished and un-sorted material held in the Bibliothèque du Musée des Antiquités Nationales outside Paris (Smith et al. Antiquity 1997) . This material, not yet catalogued, is kept under the name of French archaeologist Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin who had excavated with Garrod in France and Lebanon and stayed with her in the Charente. When Saint-Mathurin died in 1991, boxes of Garrod’s diaries, letters, field notes, photographs and manuscripts were bequeathed to the MAN along with Saint-Mathurin’s papers.

The depth and literary wealth of the preserved material is astonishing. Only a few photographs of Garrod had been known; now hundreds are available. Her field notes and diaries from excavations and expeditions to Kurdistan, Anatolia, Bulgaria, France and Lebanon detail exciting personal experiences previously unknown. Crucial archaeological discoveries can now be better reconstructed. Photographs and diaries document the 1932 discovery at Mount Carmel, Palestine, of the Neanderthal female skeleton, Tabun I, "one of the most important human fossils ever found" (Christopher Stringer, custodian of Tabun I, Natural History Museum, quoted in the Exhibition in Honour of D.A.E. Garrod, Callander and Smith, 1998). The excavation of Tabun produced the longest stratigraphic record in the region, spanning 600,000 or more years of human activity. Diaries discuss these excavation activities and illuminate the archaeological work that "remains decisive in interpreting the course of human evolution" (Harvard Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology Ofer Bar-Yosef, Exhibition in Honour of D.A.E. Garrod, Callander and Smith, 1998).

Reserved, assured, delightful

Unpublished papers and personal recollections of colleagues and former students reveal a contrast between Garrod’s personality as Professor and her behaviour in every other context. In the field she is at ease and gently humourous; reserved but fun. In the Faculty, however, she is described as "cripplingly shy"--dry, distant, difficult to know. Excerpts from her correspondence and field diaries document this striking contrast. Garrod’s earliest letters, long before her Professorship, show a spontaneous, joyful attitude toward life and work.

"My dear Jean," wrote Garrod to her cousin in 1921, "The last week in France was great fun. It was really almost too moving to be true. You crawl on your stomach for hours … climbing up yawning abysses (lighted only by an acetylene lamp …) and get knocked on the head by stalactites and on the legs by [stalag]mites, and in the end arrive at all sorts of wonders; bison modelled in clay, and portraits of sorcerers, and footprints of Magdalenian man." Studying for her Diploma in Anthropology at Oxford University, Garrod was about to meet her life-long mentor, the renowned prehistorian, L’Abbé Henri Breuil. "Comte Bégouen, our host … is a dear, and we also met the Abbé Breuil who … explores impossible caves in a Roman collar and bathing dress. He got an Hon. degree at Cambridge last year, but more fully clothed". The humour and joie de vivre evident in this letter are typical of Garrod (Letter found in Box 72: Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin, MAN.)

[Figure 3---image pending]
Figure 3. ‘Palestine People’ Dorothy Garrod with the members of her first excavation crew at the Mount Carmel Caves, 1929. Standing in their camp are left to right, Elinor Ewbank (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford), Dorothy Garrod, Mary Kitson Clark (Girton College, Cambridge), Dean Harriet M. Allyn (Mount Holyoke College, USA) and Dr Martha Hackett. When asked "how would you describe Garrod?," Mrs Mary Chitty, née Kitson Clark, now the only surviving member of the crew, instantly and emphatically responded "Small, dark and alive!" (in conversation with Callander and the author, 1996). Photograph by courtesy of the Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin, MAN.

"She was eager, fastidious, apparently not robust, but with a clear sense of values … and courage … hence the very strenuous field work [in] ––France, Spain, Palestine, Kurdistan … caves and underground rivers, "

Garrod’s cousin, Jean Smith wrote in 1968 (letter to Barbara White of Newnham College on the occasion of Garrod’s death: Box 72, MAN). Garrod’s notebooks and diaries from the ‘very strenuous’ excavations at Mount Carmel Caves, Palestine, from 1929–1934, document bonhomie and courage under stress.

According to Callander, activities prior to Dorothy Garrod’s dig at Mount Carmel were "high level stuff—government reports and telegrams about the site of ‘paramount’ importance. Yet the whole thing seems to fall to Garrod with merely good will. What a burden!" (personal correspondence, 1998). Prehistoric research in the Near East was still in its infancy. The methodological and theoretical foundation of all fields of modern Near Eastern archaeology was established by a few intrepid researchers, including Garrod, during this period (Bar-Yosef and Callander, in press). The expertise and theoretical background we now know to be necessary to understand these complex sites was not yet available. At Mount Carmel, Garrod was responsible for designing the excavation strategies for several, sometimes simultaneous, excavation sites during seven seasons, soliciting and budgeting finances, setting up camps, choosing, hiring, training and supervising her co-workers, arranging for equipment and supplies, dealing with British Mandate officials, and maintaining cordial relationships with the local Arab employees and their community. She was notified of all finds and made the decisions on how to preserve and to catalogue the abundant archaeological remains. The analysis of artifacts required an extraordinary effort. To quote but one example, stratigraphic layer E of et-Tabun cave "yielded in addition to innumerable flakes, blades and cores. no less than 7,113 hand-axes, 26,758 racloirs [scrapers] and 3,009 other implements" (Clark 1937: 487). Garrod was responsible for analysis of all this material, writing field reports and publication of results. She handled these formidable tasks expertly. "It was an enormous project and she did it quite single-handedly" (1929 crew member, Mrs Mary Chitty, née Kitson Clark, in conversation with Callander and Smith, 1996).

[Figure 4]
Figure 4. Dorothy Garrod with Yusra, one of the women who excavated the Mount Carmel Caves, 1934. "We were extremely feminist you see because all the executive and interesting part of the dig was done by women and all the menial part … by men" (Mrs. Chitty née Kitson Clark discussing the first 1929 season at Mount Carmel, in conversation with archaeologist, Julia Roberts, 1994). By courtesy of Mrs Caroline Burkitt and of the Miles Burkitt and the Kennedy Shaw families.

Conditions were harsh. The crew endured uncomfortable, primitive living conditions, terrible heat, ’sticky’ humidity, limited and contaminated water, faulty equipment, dust, hot ‘Khamseen’ winds, violent electrical storms, torrential rains and exposure to serious disease. During their first season, Kitson Clark and Allyn caught ‘relapsing’ or tick fever from being bitten by the abundant lice; they were repeatedly very ill. During the final 1934 excavation season, one crew member, Ruth Waddington, was rushed to the German Hospital in Haifa with malaria.

Garrod’s 1934 diary is permeated with light-hearted stories that belie these difficult circumstances. "There was considerable consternation as there had been predictions of a cloudburst, an earthquake and the end of the world" (25 May 1934, Garrod’s Diary, found near Box 62, MAN). "Mud, muck, ooze upon the floor, torn tents and thunder – all were forgotten as the sherry bottle was opened. Though it might be mentioned all knives were carefully cleared off the table … as the dark showed blue lightning" (Anne Fuller‘s April 1934 entry in Garrod’s Diary, MAN). The women named their tents and tiny mud brick huts the ‘Tibn Towers’, arranged daily tea, ‘Sabbath’ sherry at 6.00 p.m. and an occasional Sunday seaside holiday. Although Garrod was affectionately called ‘The Boss’, all daily living and working routines were group decisions, informally decided at breakfast or tea.

Frequent official visitors were handled with patient humour. "The Towers must above all things keep up appearances," Fuller writes in Garrod’s April Diary.

"The afternoon was awaited with some anxiety, as Miss Hilda Wills had announced her intention of visiting the Towers," reports Garrod on 14 April 1934. "At 2.0 precisely Miss W.’s car was sighted turning into the ‘drive’. DG hastened down to receive her, putting the finishing touches to her toilet as the car approached the causeway … though ignorant of prehistory [Miss Wills] displayed just the right amount of interest – in short behaved like the best type of Cultured English Hat … drank tea in the parlour of the Towers, and drove away, leaving a cheque … Sabbath Sherry was drunk at 6.45, the toast being … a ‘hat’ of the best, named Miss Wills, a presenter of gifts and not bills, drove up to the Towers and stayed several hours, leaving twenty-five pounds and no mils. The "Tibnites" decided at tea to spend part of this gift on improving an "essential piece of furniture"—their crude outdoor loo
(Garrod Diary, 14 April 1934, MAN).

[Figure 5]
Figure 5. Dorothy Garrod with bear cub, Anatolia, 1938 "She was calm and self-assured, conversed easily and put me completely at ease, and I took to her at once," reports Dr Bruce Howe on his first meeting with Garrod in 1938. Howe was a "green-horn graduate student" at Harvard University when he joined Garrod’s five month expedition to Anatolia and Bulgaria to document Palaeolithic sites. She was expedition Director, but "very much treated us … as equals … she seemed perfectly confident … authoritative and forth putting in all her fieldwork and planning interactions … Dorothy was unique, rather like a glass of pale fine stony French white wine" (Bruce Howe, personal correspondence to Bar-Yosef, Callander and Smith, 1998). Photograph by courtesy of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

During her 1938 reconnaissance expedition to chart Palaeolithic sites in Anatolia, Garrod was once again "largely self-propelled". Also, as in early field situations, her "demeanor and dealings with the various Institutes and with the Turkish authorities were … civil, effective and sure-footed with mutual respect and cordiality evident at all times". Although ultimately in charge of key decisions, she always encouraged contributions from the young Harvard researchers who accompanied her, James Gaul as well as Bruce Howe. Meeting at meals for "good talk and work", Garrod suggested that Howe spend his next year (1938–1939) in Cambridge to benefit from the Museum’s extensive collections of Stone Age material and to attend Grahame Clark’s and Glyn Daniel’s lectures on prehistoric archaeology (quotes from Howe’s letter to Bar-Yosef, Callander and Smith, 1998).

[Figure 6]image pending
Figure 6. As Professor, she was " not particularly convivial … in large groups … her total non-participation in Museum/Department … behind-the-scenes life struck me then as a major circumstance and fact of her University life" (Howe, personal correspondence to Bar-Yosef, Callander and Smith, 1998). "She was apprehensive at every junction … very shy to be the Head [of the Department]," states Garrod’s secretary, Miss Mary Thatcher, (in conversation, 1998). Photograph by courtesy of the Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin de la Bibliothèque du MAN.

Garrod as Professor: reserved and frightened

Garrod’s appointment "was rather a bombshell as far as I could gather. It definitely ruffled the dovecotes," reports Howe. Her election was greeted with excitement and high expectations, especially by the women’s colleges. The Newnham College Roll Letter announced with pride, "Miss Garrod’s election to the Disney Professor has been the outstanding event of the year and has filled us with joy" (Letter of January, 1940: 11). Fellow female scholars felt uplifted by her achievement (Alison Duke, in conversation, 1998) and Rosalind Franklin, then a first-year undergraduate, later known for the elucidation of the DNA structure, wrote to her parents, "The chief news in Newnham is the first female professor ever to be elected in Oxford or Cambridge has been elected from Newnham. It is not yet known whether she is to be a member of the University!" ( May 7, 1939, letter in possession of Franklin’s sister, Mrs Jenifer Glynn).

For contemporary women students, "the excitement of her appointment was great", reports Eleanor Robertson, Newnham Archaeological and Anthropology student, class of 1938. (personal correspondence, 1998). Many enthusiastically recall the summer of ‘39 ‘college feast’ given at Newnham in Garrod’s honour, where each dish was named after an archaeological item. For Jane Waley (née McFie, Double First, 1945 [Section A] and 1946 [Section B]), Garrod and Newnham dons—such as E. M. Butler, elected Schröder Professor of German in 1945, and Jocelyn Toynbee, elected Lawrence Professor of Classical Archaeology in 1951—were inspiring: "They seemed to me to tower over the male versions in other subjects! I suppose there were some males among my fellow students, but my self confidence was undaunted!"

The wider University community also took note. "The election of a woman to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology is an immense step forward towards complete equality between men and women in the University. The disabilities that remain here, being purely formal, are certain to be swept aside next time any changes in the University affairs are introduced" (The Cambridge Review, May 1939). Most observers assumed that full membership for women in the University would soon follow.

There is a persistent rumour that Garrod’s election was the precipitating event that resulted in the formation of a temporary syndicate on the Status of Women in the University during the early 1940s. There is no evidence at all in the Council Minutes that this is true (Council of the Senate Minutes 1938–1942). War was declared before Garrod took office in October 1939. Most University activities were concentrated on emergency measures and accommodating 2000 evacuated members of colleges and institutions of the University of London; there was neither time nor staff to consider detailed change to Statutes. In addition, two surviving signatories of the 30 September 1946 Memorial to the Council that initiated the long-awaited changes granting women full status, clearly state that Garrod’s election was not a determining influence in their decision to back the petition. Professor Sir John Plumb and Dr George Salt suggest that the basic absurdity was introduced years previously when women were admitted to all University teaching offices and Faculty Boards yet denied full membership (Plumb and Salt, in conversation, 1998). According to Plumb, Garrod’s election was part of an ongoing process rather than a separate event (in conversation, 1998).

Still, the public reaction seems to have been extraordinary. There were very few women in teaching posts in Cambridge University in 1939. Garrod was a modest, shy person and appears to have been uncomfortable with the attention her election elicited. Her reticence is revealed in a story recounted by Howe. At the moment of her appointment, Garrod invited him to accompany her to a performance of "Fidelio" at the University Theatre to celebrate. "She said that I could provide a sort of shield between her and the surrounding colleagues sure to show up … on all sides … she didn’t want to be swamped with congratulations and chatter" (Howe, personal correspondence, 1998).

The reaction of the Faculty seems to have been as demanding as the broader University response. When Garrod assumed the Disney Chair, the Archaeological and Anthropological Tripos consisted of one part only. Usually a student read history or classics before taking a final year of archaeology and anthropology as Part Two of a three year degree. This one part included two sections: Section A which covered Physical and Social Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology; and Section B which covered Norse, Celtic Britain, and Anglo-Saxon history and language. By the end of the 1930s, an increasing demand for social anthropology and prehistoric archaeology suggested that the Tripos should be expanded. Garrod was expected by the Faculty to meet this increased demand for prehistoric archaeological expertise and to play a key administrative role in the development of a full Tripos.

With her election, Garrod was catapulted into a difficult situation within a new Faculty, which had been established in 1926. As the first prehistorian to assume the Disney Chair, she was Professor of a new subject that had been only recently introduced to the University curriculum and was not yet fully institutionalised. Her predecessor, Ellis Minns, a classicist, palaeographer and former lecturer in Slavonic studies, did most of his teaching in the respected Classics Tripos rather than in Archaeology and Anthropology. "Archaeological studies other than Classics [classical archaeology] were still in an embryonic state," writes archaeologist Charles Phillips, who served with Garrod on the Faculty Board during the 1930s (Phillips, unpublished Memoirs [1975–80]: 141).

Cambridge was the only University in Britain offering an undergraduate degree specialising in prehistoric archaeology and prehistory was considered a ‘hobby pursuit,’ and a ‘last resort’ or ‘soft’ option (Saumarez Smith, Duke, Thatcher and others, personal correspondence and in conversation, 1998). Both prehistory and anthropology were questionable subjects, fighting for academic recognition, funding, and accommodation (Rouse 1997, Smith 1997). Many bright students who chose prehistoric archaeology were told that they had no future. Among these were the pioneers of modern prehistoric archaeology: Cyril Fox, Louis Leakey, and Garrod’s successor to the Disney Chair, Grahame Clark (Clark, in conversation, 1994).

According to George Salt, who was a long-term member of several University Syndicates and had many opportunities to observe Faculty activities, Garrod’s reputation as an administrator was good (in conversation, 1998). Through her years of tenure, she was conscientious, reliable, trustworthy, and hard working. She served competently and creatively on every Faculty Committee of import for ten years. It was her suggestion that a Part II be instituted in archaeology and it was her endless labour that produced the desired result.

Yet, Garrod’s position on the Board of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology was "one of considerable frustration and difficulty," writes Lethbridge ([1965]: 99) in his Memoirs. Before and during Garrod’s tenure in the Disney Chair, the Faculty Board wrangled continually with the General Board of the Faculties, a powerful University body that controlled finances and final decisions on innumerable Faculty matters. The Faculty Board repeatedly disagreed with the General Board on issues of funds and accommodations. Certainly the phrase "The Faculty Board did not however agree with the view of the General Board" is the Faculty’s refrain.

Shortly after assuming office, Garrod was requested to represent and explain the Faculty’s needs to this Board. Prior to the outbreak of war, the General Board had begun a lengthy investigation into the expenditures of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology on teaching, personnel, accommodation, and equipment. The organisation and regulation of courses, the size and grading of teaching and assistant staff, the status of the Curator of the Museum and the relationship of Section A to Section B within the Tripos were being scrutinised. The relationship of Section A, which was exclusively prehistoric archaeology, to Section B, which covered the culture and language of early historic Britain, was the most sensitive and contentious of these issues. Section B had been brought into the Archaeological and Anthropological Tripos from Modern and Medieval Languages in 1927 by Professor of Anglo-Saxon, H. M. Chadwick. The Archaeology and Anthropology Faculty unanimously wished to keep Section B within its ranks. Yet, some members of the new Faculty of English wanted Section B to be transferred to their control and there was vocal agitation and occasional letters to the General Board advocating this change.

[Figure 7]
Figure 7. Cartoon of Garrod’s Photographic reconnaissance Section reproduced by courtesy of the family of Dr Hugh Hamshaw Thomas, Cambridge University Reader in Palaeobotany and, during war time, Wing Commander at the RAF Medmenham Unit for Photographic Interpretation. Garrod was best in small, informal groups where status was not a strong issue. She was "delighted" when Dr Hamshaw Thomas recruited her in 1942 for the Medmenham Air Intelligence Unit, and was "jolly well not reserved" while there, remembers Hamshaw Thomas’ daughter, Mrs Ursula Whitaker (in conversation, 1998). "Rank was of no importance … there was an atmosphere of tremendous conviviality" within the Unit and within Garrod’s Section of three or four people who worked closely together (Whitaker, in conversation, 1998 and Section member, Mr. Fred Mason, personal correspondence, 1998).

Having met with Garrod and also J. H. Hutton, Professor of Anthropology, the Committee for the General Board sent a draft report to the Faculty Board. A major paragraph of this report referred to Garrod. According to the General Board Committee, Garrod "expressed the opinion" that Section A and B "appeal to different kinds of persons," that "Section A and B together did not make a coherent whole and that it was neither necessary nor desirable that they be linked. The Committee agreed to place these opinions on record so that they may be considered when the General Board undertake their inquiry into" the future of Section B, (Faculty Minutes, 22 May 1940). In response, Garrod asserts that she "has no recollection of making statements that Section A and B together did not make a coherent whole" and that she "considers any separation between prehistory and the later archaeology represented by Section B … undesirable." The Faculty Board then suggests "that the whole of this paragraph be deleted" because Garrod and the Faculty do "not want this paragraph to prejudice the promised inquiry" into Section B’s future (Faculty Minutes, 22 May 1940).

In November 1940, the General Board sent another draft of their report to the Faculty for approval. The paragraph attributing quotes to Garrod had not been changed or deleted. The Board unanimously once again expressed their concern that these statements were misquoted and that these misquotes could prejudice the future of their Tripos. The final General Board Report nevertheless retained the objectionable paragraph intact. In addition, on 20 November 1940, Mr. John T. Saunders, Secretary-General to the General Board of the Faculties from 1935–53, writes to the Board, "the statement attributed to Professor Garrod appears to the Committee to be the view which should be taken into account when the future of Section B is considered." In final response, the Faculty Board "renews their protest against the placing on record of statements which are in their opinion inaccurate" (Faculty Minutes, 22 January 1941).

This seems to have been Garrod’s first experience with University administration and politics. It is not clear how the General Board could have so completely misinterpreted her testimony or why it persisted in using quotes that could surely damage Garrod’s reputation and might completely discredit her within her Faculty--so soon after her election and before her reputation was established. However, it does explain her fear.

It was precisely her administrative encounters with the General Board that appeared to have caused Garrod the most consternation. As a Professor in the Faculty and as Head of her Department, Garrod dealt continually with Saunders and the General Board. According to Garrod’s Secretary, Miss Mary Thatcher (personal communication, 1998), it was during the period that Garrod was Department Head from 1950 to her retirement in 1952, that the Faculty "grossly overspent" on their allowance for electricity. The Board received a letter from Secretary General Saunders suggesting that Garrod please go and explain. "She might have been a schoolgirl," states Thatcher, who accompanied Garrod, "she shook with fear." During the meeting, Garrod asked Saunders what the Faculty might do to improve the situation. He answered, "Well, Professor Garrod, when you see a light on, turn it off," (Thatcher, personal communication, 1998).

Garrod would have found this type of treatment confusing if not humiliating or at least demeaning. She was an older, cultured, reserved, upper middle class woman from an established and highly accomplished family. The Garrods were solid members of Annan’s (1955) ‘Intellectual Aristocracy’. Her father, Sir Archibald Garrod, had been Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford and is regarded as the founder of biochemical genetics; her grandfather was Sir Alfred Garrod of King’s College Hospital, Physician Extraordinary to Queen Victoria and a leading authority on rheumatic diseases; her uncle, Alfred Garrod, was a noted physiologist and zoologist and Professor of Physiology of the Royal Institute and Professor of Comparative Anatomy at King’s College. She would have been accustomed to being treated with an understated respect.

When Garrod’s responses to the General Board are studied, she presents herself as relating to University officials as she had related to officials while on excavations and expeditions. As quoted earlier, while on expeditions, "Garrod’s demeanor and dealings … were civil … with mutual respect and cordiality evident at all times," (Howe, personal correspondence, 1998). Garrod assumed that the other side was eminently reasonable and that a fair debate could solve all. She was forthcoming with Faculty needs and seemed to expect the General Board to give a clear answer. Her actions are reminiscent of her writing style, described by Clark (1937: 488) as "dispassionate … scientific … modest." She seemed to believe in an idealised scientific model of discourse where by if her hypothesis was wrong, open discussion would lead to a better solution.

Garrod often argued on a moral basis. After the War, as a Professor returning from National Service, Garrod received her stipend for several months while lesser Faculty members, such as Assistant Faculty Lecturer Grahame Clark, did not. She argued with the General Board that this was crass discrimination. The General Board ignored her argument, stating that all Faculty were not allowed stipends until they started to lecture. When she pointed out that she herself had not started lecturing, the General Board responded that it could consider only hardship cases within her Faculty. Garrod responded that since it was an issue of discrimination between officers of the same Faculty and as all the junior teaching officers were not receiving stipends, all were hardship cases. The General Board responded that all Faculty were not allowed stipends until they started to lecture. At this point, Garrod stopped responding.

Garrod seemed ill at ease in all hierarchical, formal situations where she represented the Faculty. Although she had been an excellent supervisor in informal, small groups while at Newnham College--"her mother joined us for a cup of tea before proceedings began. It was all very friendly and easy" (Lillico, personal correspondence, 1998)—Garrod was a ‘dead loss’ as a lecturer, or even as a supervisor, within the more structured Faculty setting. The unremitting boredom and uniform dullness of her presentations is remembered by many. There was "never a light or bright moment" recalls former 1950s student, John Mulvaney, who later became foundation Professor of Prehistory at the Australian National University in 1970 (in conversation, 1998). "She gave one of the poorest public lectures I ever attended," writes archaeologist Merrick Posnansky. Lecturing was "not her chosen form of communication," states Dr. Ann Sieveking, née Paull, who listened to Garrod discuss the Upper Palaeolithic, the Palaeolithic in Asia, and Palaeolithic art and religion from 1951–52. Sieveking’s observation is supported by Garrod’s own statement to her friend, Mlle. Germaine Henri-Martin: "j’aime mieux écrire que discuter de vive voix" [I much prefer to write than discuss aloud] (19 February 1961, Box 38, M.A.N.). Even in small and informal Tripos classes, Garrod seemed uncomfortable with her role and the format of University lecturing.

In November 1950, Garrod wrote to her close friend, Mlle Germaine Henri-Martin, "Je n’ai rien pu faire pour Angles [Garrod’s Upper Palaeolithic rock shelter excavation in France] depuis ma rentrée et Je n’arrive pas à préparer mon cours pour le trimestre prochain--je serais obligée de le faire à Paris, ce qui remettra encore le travail d’Angles. Au fond, je mene une vie impossible! La décision de prendre la retraite est absolument nécessaire." [I haven’t been able to do anything for Angles since my return and I haven’t managed to prepare my course for next term. I’ll have to do it in Paris, which will again delay Angles’ work. Basically, I lead an impossible life! The decision to retire is absolutely necessary (21 November 1950, Box 34, M.A.N.)


Exactly what was Dorothy Garrod’s difficulty in being Professor? It would seem that she found distasteful exactly the type of behaviour that resulted in her election. Garrod would not have been capable of running a candidate to divert a vote.

She had obviously never read F.M. Cornford’s famous satire of 1908 on Cambridge University politics, Microcosmographia Academica. being a guide for the young academic politician and was untrained in the types of political manoeuvres this book so accurately describes. The "political activity" of casually negotiating deals while strolling King’s Parade, was alien to her. "Remember this:" Cornford (1908: 42 ) warns, "the men who get things done are the men who walk up and down the King’s Parade, from 2 to 4, every day of their lives."

In addition, Garrod’s lack of full membership in the University before 1948 and also the fact that she was a woman barred her from some ‘behind the scenes’ interac-tions and also from social settings where deals might have been struck. Women were not allowed, for example, to dine at the men’s colleges where issues were broached and resolved during conversations at high table. She would not have been present at important informal discussions where bureaucratic manoeuvrings might have been agreed upon.

Negotiating scrimmages with powerful bureaucratic committees was difficult partly because some members of the General Board of the Faculties were particularly hard to deal with. She was unaccustomed to the often sharp style of Cambridge institutional interactions and was uncomfortable with the verbal sparring and sarcastic retorts which were an acceptable part of the negotiating process. In the electricity budget incident previously mentioned, Garrod would have felt it rude to respond to Saunders. However, when she did not retort, he would have judged her as ‘weak’. Saunders might have reacted thus to whomever he dealt with. However, as a result of Garrod’s background and personality, she was poorly suited to such interactions.

Garrod had no experience in hierarchical, institutional settings, where she would have been under a General Board, yet over undergraduates. She had never gone to a public school such as Marlborough, as had her brothers, or entered Cambridge and stayed there to build her career, as had Grahame Clark, the other great prehistorian who succeeded her. She was accustomed to leading small egalitarian research teams where she had control of funding and final decisions; Garrod was ill prepared for the University’s ranked system.

Throughout, Garrod seems to have been operating on the more co-operative, reasoned, and even dignified mode of behaviour she had enjoyed in the practice of research. This behaviour was maladaptive within Cambridge’s arcane institutional, hierarchical arena where control and manipulation of scarce resources were critical and where bureaucratic effectiveness required a tacit knowledge of how to act.

Garrod adequately fulfilled the formal requirements of her office. As previously described, it was her suggestion that a Part II be instituted in archaeology; she served conscientiously and creatively on Faculty Committees for ten years. However, she never became acculturated to the type of informal behaviour needed to be a ‘Cambridge man’.

All indications are that she was uncomfortable in her Professorial role and left as soon as her sense of duty allowed. She did a competent job establishing the full Tripos but longed to return to her research (Thatcher, in conversation, 1998). Clare Fell, who was Assistant Curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology from 1948--53, remembers "how shocked and saddened everyone was when she resigned," (personal correspondence, 1998). Upon retirement, thirty-four members of the Faculty Board presented her with an ornate scroll, inscribed in Latin, which reveals their sadness and respect, which can be translated as:

To Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod most illustrious teacher and indefatigable explorer of antiquity, who for thirteen years professed the science of archaeology in Cambridge with such great learning, such great splendour, such great friendliness and humanity, her colleagues, acquaintances, friends, whose names are written beneath, joyfully giving thanks for so many things well done, earnestly mourning her sad and premature departure, following her in all excellent things, moved not only by love but also by regret, to one who has deserved it, who tomorrow will emigrate to Gaul, yet will quite often return to Britain, give with pleasure this clock as a gift. "caelum non animum mutant, qui trans [mare] currunt" [Horace. Epistles, Book I, 11, line 27] "those who hasten across [the sea] change their horizon, not their soul"
(quote from Exhibition in Honour of D.A.E. Garrod, Callander and Smith, 1998, with permission from Madeleine Lovedy Smith and Antonia Benedek, Professor Garrod’s cousin and god-daughter).

Living References:

All knowledge is community based. This is especially true when secondary, published sources do not yet exist. I have hence relied upon personal reminiscences and unpublished material to reconstruct Garrod’s past. Interpretations also only emerged after hours of discussions with colleagues, friends, and supervisors. This result is thus indeed a community effort. I hope my essay is worthy of all who contributed their time and energy to it. It was a joy and privilege to work with the following people.

Many, who read the Archaeological and Anthropological Tripos, from 1926 to 1952, wrote insightful letters. Of seventy-five surviving students for whom Newnham and Girton had addresses, all but three responded. Their letters were generous, often joyful and bright. Barbara Wallis suggested I speak to Lady Jefferys. Lady Jeffreys and Chips suggested that I speak to Alison Duke. Mrs. McBurney suggested Mrs. Bushnell and Mary Thatcher. Lady Renfrew recommended Clare Fell, the Burkitt family, and Joan Oates. Julia Roberts gave Mrs Chitty, née Mary Kitson Clark’s, address. Many suggested Lady Clark, Mrs Glyn Daniel, and Sonia Hawkes. The Robert Braidwoods forwarded Bruce Howe’s address. Elisabeth Leedham-Green suggested Professor Sir John Plumb and George Salt. Robin Place Kenward, Jane McFie Waley, Miss Lyons, Sylvia Hallam, Lisa Wace French, Marie Lawrence, Hilda Ellis Davidson, Mrs Hodgess Roger, J. W. Lillico, Margaret Wilkinson, Sylvia Priest, Lady Richardson, Lady Hamilton, Gillian Sutherland, E. M. S. Macalister Horne, Lady Page, Antonia Rose, Mary Summer Conn, Hilary Richardson, J. S. LaFontaine, Madeline Glemser, and Mrs Clark Robertson knew others who I should contact. Mrs Whitaker suggested Fred Mason who served with Garrod in her RAF Photographic Intelligence section. The web began to include more men, Thurstan Shaw, Desmond Clark, Peter Gathercole, John Pickles, Jack Golson, John Mulvaney, Donald Thompson, Merrick Posnansky, John Alexander, William Davies, Chris Stray, and of course Bruce Howe. Academic couples such as the Sievekings, the Evans, and the Barnes were wonderful.

Dr Leedham-Green, Anne Thomson, Phyllis Hetzel, Robin Boast, Kate Perry, Sue Tomlinson, Jackie Wilson, Anne and Chips, Tessa Stone, Cathy Gere, Paula Gould, Jessica Martin, Mina Lethbridge, Rachel O’Leary, Joyce Reynolds, Jennifer Hogarth, Mrs St Joseph, Julia Roberts, Clare Fell, Mary Crook, Mrs Pulvertaft-Green, and Betty Raven Saumerez Smith shared expertise and ideas. Suzanne Daley translated Garrod’s letters. Mrs Ruth Grey, Kate Pretty, and the Faculty Board of Archaeology gave access to the Faculty Minutes. Dr T. J. Mead gave permission to study restricted University Archives material. Sister St Paul Evans and Sister Rosario, who knew Garrod at the Cambridge Catholic Chaplaincy for women, Lady Margaret Hall, shared their memories. The Phillips family allowed me to read C. W. P.’s Memoirs. Mrs Jenifer Glynn gave permission to quote her sister, Rosalind Franklin. Mrs Lethbridge discussed her husband’s unpublished Memoirs and over the years has become a dear friend.

Dr Jane Renfrew and Professor Paul Mellars were steady Supervisors.

Jane Callander daily discussed results and, when research money ran out, funded my trip to the MAN. She also alerted me to Rosalind Franklin’s letters and arranged permission from the Garrod family to quote the Latin scroll presented to Professor Garrod at her retirement. Susan Bourne from Newnham College did the fine translation of the scroll.

I have given editorial control to the people interviewed. The quotes used in this essay have been approved.

I regret that I must conclude this paper. It has been my pleasure to meet all involved.

Written References:

Annan, N.G. 1955. The Intellectual Aristocracy, in J.H. Plumb, (ed.) Studies in Social History: A Tribute to G.M. Trevelyan: 241--87. London: Longmans, Green.

Bar-Yosef, O. and J. Callander. In press. Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod, in G.M. Cohen and M.S. Joukowsky (ed.),Women in archaeology: the first generation, the pioneers.

Burkitt, M. 1921. Prehistory: A study of early cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin with a short preface by L’Abbé BreuilCambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Burkitt, M. 1933. The Old Stone Age: a study of Palaeolithic times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, J.G.D. 1937. Review of The Stone Age of Mount Carmel: Excavations at the Wady el-Mughara 1, by D.A.E. Garrod and D.M.A. Bate, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 3 (2): 486--8.

1989. Prehistory at Cambridge and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cornford, F.M.

1908. Microcosmographia Academica: being a guide for the young academic politician. Cam-

bridge: Bowes and Bowes.

Council of the Senate Minutes

1938--1942. Cambridge University Archives: Min.I. 26 & 27.

Daniel, G.

1986. Some small harvest: the memoirs of Glyn Daniel. London: Thames and Hudson.

Elections to Professorships

1883--1944. Cambridge University Archives: O.XIV.54.

1944--1960. Cambridge University Archives: O.XIV.54A

English, R.

1939. The Disney Professor Elect of Archaeology. Cambridge Review 60: (1478): 382.

Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology Board Minutes

1927--1943. Cambridge University Archives: Min.V.92a.

1944--1947. Cambridge University Archives: Min.V.94.

1947--1952. Cambridge University Archives: Min.V.95.

1952--1954. Cambridge University Archives: Min.V.96

Garrod, D.A.E.

1934. et-Tabun Diary. Fonds Suzanne Cassou de Saint-Mathurin de la Bibliothèque du Musée

des Antiquités Nationales de Saint Germain-en-Laye.

Illustrated London News.

1926 New relics of man 20,000 years old: the Gibraltar skull. August 28, 1926: 379.

Johnson, G.

1994. University politics: F. M. Cornford’s Cambridge and his advice to the young academic

politician. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leedham-Green, E.

1996. A concise history of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lethbridge, T.C.

[1965]. The ivory tower. Unpublished memoirs in possession of Mrs Lethbridge.

Newnham College Council Minutes

1939--1946. Newnham College Archives.

Newnham College Roll Letter

1928--1952. Newnham College Archives.

Phillips, C.W.

[1975-1980]. Unpublished Memoirs in possession of the Phillips family.

Rouse, S.

1997. Ethnology, ethnobiography, and institution: A.C. Haddon and Anthropology at Cam-

bridge. Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, Cambridge University Library Manuscripts 20900

Smith, J.

1968. Letter to Barbara White at Newnham College. Box 72: Inventory 33433. Fonds Suzanne

Cassou de Saint-Mathurin de la Bibliothèque du Musée des Antiquités Nationales de Saint Germain-en-Laye.

Smith, P.J.

1997. Grahame Clark’s new archaeology. Antiquity 71 (271): 11--30.

Smith, P.J., J. Callander, P.G. Bahn and G. Pincon

1997. Dorothy Garrod in words and pictures, Antiquity 71 (272):


Status of Women in the University

[1946--48]. Cambridge University Archives: Registry File R2930

Webster, D.B.

1991. Hawkeseye: the early life of Christopher Hawkes.

Far Thrupp: Alan Sutton.


Contributions arranged by Dr Jessica Martin and Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, Professor Bar-Yosef and the American School of Prehistoric Research [Peabody Museum of Harvard University], The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, The Garrod Fund of the Cambridge Department of Archaeology, the LEE Foundation, Anne and Chris Chippindale, and Jane Callander funded this research.

This paper is dedicated to Klaudiusz, Loren, Lester, Tadzio, and Jane.