The Library of Congress has taken a “historic step” in acknowledging the contributions of Mary Ellingson, a former University of Evansville archaeologist whose work was not recognized during her lifetime and had instead been wrongfully attributed to her male supervising professor for 90 years.
According to a press release from the small, private university in Indiana, Ellingson’s name was officially added to the catalog entry of the Excavations at Olynthus series, a scholarly archaeological publication, in late October.
“This momentous recognition not only rectifies the historical injustice suffered by Dr. Ellingson but also serves as a triumph for all those who have tirelessly sought justice for a woman unjustly omitted from the pages of history,” the press release reads.
Ellingson, who died in 1993, taught at the University of Evansville between 1963 and 1974. She completed her graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. As a student, Ellingson completed excavation work that provided unprecedented insight into domestic architecture at the site of Olynthus, an ancient Greek city on the present-day Chalcidice Peninsula. While the 1931 project was led by professor David Robinson, Ellingson’s contributions became the foundation for her master’s thesis and eventually her dissertation.
However, Robinson published both of Ellingson’s works under his name. The act of plagiarism went undetected for decades until the recent rediscovery of Ellingson’s contributions by current Evansville professor Alan Kaiser. Kaiser’s book Archaeology, Sexism, and Scandal, published in 2014, led to a petition calling for the Library of Congress to rectify the record by adding Ellingson’s name as an author.
“Her groundbreaking work has finally received the acknowledgment it deserves, and her story stands as an inspiration to all those who strive for truth and recognition in their respective fields,” Kaiser said in the press release.