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Wace, Helen Charlotte, née Pence, 1892-1982 (archaeologist)



Helen Pence attended the University of Wisconsin (BA in Latin, History, Maths) 1911-1915, then the University of Chicago & University of Wisconsin (MA 1919-1920). Awarded the University of Wisconsin Teaching Certificate and the State teaching certificates in Wisconsin and Illinois, she held a University of Wisconsin Teaching Fellowship 1919-1920 and taught Latin to medical students. From 1916-1919 she taught at Northrop Collegiate College in Minneapolis, where in her spare time at the end of World War I in 1919 she served as a Red Cross volunteer during the forest fire disaster and then again during the flu epidemic. In May 1919 she was appointed to Canteen Service in the YMCA hut in Times Square in New York as Captain of the Smith College Unit. While there she was selected to teach illiterate men serving long sentences in the army prison on Governor's Island (with an armed guard for her protection), two advanced classes in English and history to college graduates there on grounds of insubordination and regular army at Fort Jay.

She was a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago 1920-1924 and studied at the American Academy in Rome during 1922-1923. She taught at Evanston Township high School 1920-1924 and 1940-1942 and also at Vassar College 1924-1925. She married Alan J. B. Wace in 1925. She had met him at Mycenae (in June 1922) while visiting Greece with the American Academy group. Their daughter Elizabeth (Lisa) was born on January 19, 1931.

In the summer of 1939 she helped her husband A.J.B. Wace conduct excavations at Mycenae. She stayed with him in Greece for the first year of the war, helping the war relief program run by the British and American legations in Athens. When she arrived in the USA in June 1940 (to bring her daughter to safety) she lectured for Greek War Relief (delivering about fifty lectures to various clubs and organisations) and helped to conduct a Junior Red Cross drive in Evanston High School which raised $1200 for the Greek humanitarian cause.

She joined her husband once more four years later in 1944 when Wace took up a new British Council funded post as Professor of Classics and Archeology at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. She taught at the English Girls' College, Alexandria. The couple returned to Mycenae together to excavate in 1950 and upon Wace's death in 1957 she became his literary executor. She also published a much reprinted guidebook to the site of Mycenae. Born November 23, 1892 in Columbus, Indiana, USA, the daughter of William David Pence (d. 1946), Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Wisconsin and Lottie Gaston (d. 1938), Helen died on March 26, 1982 in Manchester, UK.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:


Context & Control Books and Indices, 1920-1969

Reference Code: GBR/3437/MCNE/1/3
Scope and Contents These records provide a working summary and indexed overview of the pottery and small finds generated during the course of an excavation season. They do not exist for the 1920-1923 seasons and started with Helen Wace assuming administrative oversight and organisation of the excavated material unearthed: numbering, description, labeling and photography in 1939. Small Finds Indices compiled by Helen Wace in spiral-bound notebooks are proto-Control books, initially entitled 'Register...
Dates: 1920-1969

Helen Wace 1939 Diary, 1939

Reference Code: GBR/3437/MCNE/1/1/21
Scope and Contents

9 loose leaves from a personal diary written by Helen Wace during the 1939 excavation season between July and August. Much like a day book in terms of content, she records daily life - such as walks, picnics, swims and visitors to the site, Lisa having a cold and being bitten by a dog - in between documenting the discovery of Mycenaean skeletons, pots and ivories and the sorting and cataloguing of finds.

Dates: 1939

Mycenae 1950 and 1952 Helen Wace, 1950-1953

Reference Code: GBR/3437/MCNE/1/1/33
Scope and Contents 1950, 1952, 1953 personal excavation diary kept by Helen Wace. Describes daily occurrences, visitors and their dates of arrival/departure, records who undertook different duties during the excavations and references major finds. Social events such as the visit of the King and Queen of Greece to the site and Alan Wace's 71st birthday, illnesses and trips away from the site are also mentioned. 1950 and 1952 notes are comprehensive, 1953 is short and continues in another notebook MCNE/1/1/052....
Dates: 1950-1953

Mycenae 1953 Helen Wace, 1953-1957

Reference Code: GBR/3437/MCNE/1/1/52
Scope and Contents 1953-1954 excavation diary with additional notes about 1955-1957, kept by Helen Wace. Describes daily occurrences, lists visitors and arrival/departure dates, records who undertook different duties during the excavations and references major finds. Social events, illnesses and trips away from the site are also mentioned. Team expeditions to Nauplion Museum with research agenda in August 1956 (p. 106) and August 1957 (p.110). Lists are kept at the back of the book: some personal reminders,...
Dates: 1953-1957

Mycenae. The Room with the Fresco, 1976

Reference Code: GBR/3437/WDTR/1/8/16
Scope and Contents

'The room with the Fresco, The Approach' report, 19 pp.
Draft 'The Shrine', dated Mar 1976, 4 pp. 1 leaf of a typescript letter from Helen Wace, dated 11 Oct 1976, re glass beehives (beads).

Dates: Other: 1976