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“IF Women Have Courage…”

September 29, 2014

“If women have courage, Madame Pond deserves a gold medal.” So said Khalifa Lamine, the Caid (administrator) of the district known in 1930 as Canrobert, now Oum El Bouaghi, in northeastern Algeria.

Madame—that is, Dorothy—Pond was part of Beloit College’s Logan Museum expedition to North Africa. From 1925 through 1930, Beloiters surveyed and excavated dozens of archaeological sites throughout Algeria, recovering over 100,000 ancient artifacts. Now, the story of these earliest American forays into North African archaeology is told in Dorothy Pond’s newly published memoir, IF Women Have Courage…: Among Shepards, Sheiks, and Scientists in Algeria.

Dorothy L. Pond (1900-1987) grew up in southern Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) with a B.A. in economics. A pen-pal relationship with Alonzo Pond’20, initiated in 1925, led in 1926 to their marriage, to Dorothy’s resignation from a position at the Mayo Clinic, and to her first of four years of fieldwork in Algeria.

Dorothy worked with Alonzo on archaeological expeditions that were part of the Logan Museum’s ambitious, global research program funded by College trustee Frank G. Logan and organized by dean and museum curator George L. Collie’1881 in partnership with Alonzo, the museum’s assistant curator. Alonzo worked in France and China as well as in North Africa.

Dorothy lived in Algeria during the museum’s 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1930 expeditions. Occasionally the team lived in large towns, but because most of the sites they worked on were in remote areas, they usually lived on farms or set up their own camps. The 1930 expedition, their largest, consisted of two camps that included Dorothy and Alonzo, their infant daughter Chomingwen Pond’50, a crew of Beloit College students (all male), and several other American students (also male) recruited by Collie. Many of the students went on to distinguished careers in anthropology. Dorothy served as camp manager and did everything from organizing meals, to checking students’ artifact sorting and classification, to entertaining visiting dignitaries.

Dorothy completed a memoir about her African experiences in 1978. After years of work by Dorothy and then Chomingwen, the book is finally out! It contains many photographs of field sites and personalities as well as an Afterword by archaeologists Mary Jackes and David Lubell, who have worked in the same areas. After reading about Dorothy’s adventures, you will understand why Caid Lamine praised her courage.

Logan Museum director Bill Green says, “Dorothy Pond’s IF Women Have Courage... provides a unique perspective on North African archaeology and its social milieu in the interwar period, from one of the few women who participated in field expeditions in that era..”

The book was published this past summer by Africa Magna Verlag, a German publisher that specializes in African archaeology. Turtle Creek Bookstore and the Museums Gift Shop are working to stock the book as soon as it becomes available in North America. Chomingwen Pond has generously agreed to donate the royalties to the Logan Museum’s Alonzo and Dorothy Pond Memorial Fund to promote research and care of the North African and European collections.

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