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Library of Congress Recognizes Plagiarized University of Evansville Archaeologist After 90 Years

Posted: Monday, November 6, 2023

The Library of Congress, a bastion of knowledge and information, has taken a historic step in acknowledging the groundbreaking contributions of Dr. Mary Ellingson, a former University of Evansville archaeologist whose work was wrongfully attributed to another individual. After a staggering 90 years of anonymity and academic injustice, Dr. Ellingson's name now graces the catalog entry of the Excavations at Olynthus series, a monumental archaeological publication. This recognition comes as a result of tireless efforts to correct the historical record, and it marks a triumph for those seeking justice for a woman written out of history.

Dr. Mary Ellingson, an archaeologist with a profound passion for her field, taught at the University of Evansville between 1963 and 1974, leaving an indelible mark on her students and colleagues. Little did they know the secret she carried - a story of her invaluable contribution to the field of archaeology dating back to her graduate years in 1931.

During her graduate studies, Dr. Ellingson began work excavating at the Greek site of Olynthus, a project led by David Robinson. This excavation focused on domestic architecture and provided unprecedented insight into the private aspects of ancient Greek culture. Dr. Ellingson's involvement in directing Greek workers and documenting terracotta figurines in the field became the foundation for her master's thesis. A few years later, she furthered her groundbreaking analysis by crafting her dissertation, which redefined the interpretation of ancient Greek figurines.

In a shocking act of plagiarism that has few parallels in the history of archaeology and the sciences, David Robinson published both of Dr. Ellingson's documents under his own name as part of the Excavations of Olynthus series. This deception remained undetected for decades until the rediscovery of Dr. Ellingson's photo album and letters from 1931 by University of Evansville archaeology professor Dr. Alan Kaiser. Dr. Kaiser unveiled this scandalous history in his 2014 book titled "Archaeology, Sexism, and Scandal."

The exposure of this academic injustice resonated with reviewers and supporters of Dr. Kaiser's book, compelling them to call for acknowledgment of Dr. Ellingson's contributions to the Excavations at Olynthus series. Johns Hopkins University Press, the current copyright holder of the series, heeded this call and, last year, petitioned the Library of Congress to rectify the historical record by adding Dr. Ellingson's name as an author to their catalog entry for the series.

In late October, in a move unprecedented before for archaeology and the sciences, the Library of Congress recognized Dr. Mary Ellingson's groundbreaking contributions by adding her name to the catalog entry. 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.

In celebration of this historic milestone, Dr. Alan Kaiser, the archaeology professor whose work led to this momentous change, offered these words:

"Recognizing Dr. Mary Ellingson's long-suppressed contributions to the Excavations at Olynthus series is a significant step toward justice in the academic world. 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."

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