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“Nicht alles Wissen Wissenwertes sei!”
[Not everything knowable is worth knowing]

Art historian Wilhlem Waetzoldt, 1880-1945

The Dictionary of Art Historians is a free, privately funded biographical dictionary of historians of western art written and maintained by scholars for the benefit of the public. It became associated with the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies of Duke University in January of 2010. From 2016 on, it has been sponsored by the Duke Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab.

Initially conceived as a methodologic tool for English-language readers, the Dictionary of Art Historians compiles the documented facts of an historian’s life, post-retirement or posthumously, in order to serve as a background for understanding a specific text and the historiography of art. The DAH was begun in the fall of 1986 as a notecard project by indexing the historians cited in Eugene Kleinbauer’s Research Guide to the History of Western Art (1982) and his Modern Perspectives in Western Art History (1971), Heinrich Dilly’s Kunstgeschichte als Institution (1979) and some of Kultermann’s Geschichte der Kunstgeschichte (1966), now in translation as The History of Art History (1993). In 1996 the Dictionary was input electronically and in 2002 migrated to the internet. In 2018, the project underwent a major redesign and is again in active development, supported by Duke University’s Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab, of which it is now a part. Subjects selected for inclusion are based solely by their reference in the historiographic literature (see bibliography link) and are not the selection of the editors. In 2023 the dictionary moved from a Drupal space to a WordPress space. This switch will see changes such as the addition of Getty vocabulary and images of the historians. In addition to a change in platform, there’s also been a specification in which art historians we’re currently focusing on. Researchers are actively searching for Black and female art historians to add to the Dictionary.

Team Members & Contributors

The Dictionary of Art Historians is an effort by the Duke University scholarly community.  Paid student researchers were funded through the generosity of the Duke Undergraduate Research Support Office and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, administered through Duke’s Digital Art History and Visual Culture Research Lab.  Select a name to see the entries contributed by that researcher.

  • Caitlin Childers (Content & Technical Contributor: Standardized our Place Names taxonomies and assisted with data cleaning.)
  • Dana Hogan
  • Emily Crockett (UNC-CH Content & Technical Contributor: Began populating the Archives field.)
  • Jessica Orzulak
  • Emilie Menzel (UNC-CH Content & Technical Director: Developed a social media proposal & finished standardizing the Subject Areas and Careers fields.)
  • LaNitra Michele Walker
  • LaNitra Michele Walker an.
  • Shane Morrissy
  • Clara Pinchbeck – (Technical Contributor: Began standardizing the Subject Areas field.)
  • Joy Wei -(Technical Contributor: Contributed to the development of the Connections field.)
  • Yasemin Altun

  • Barbara Pezzini
  • Monique Daniels

  • Alana J. Hyman
  • Arden Schraff
  • Arial Sinclair
  • Cassandra Klos
  • Cindy Xu
  • Denise Shkurovich
  • Doriz Concepcion
  • Eleanor Ross
  • Giulia Savio
  • Helen Jennings
  • Jessica Savage
  • Kerry Rork
  • Lindsay Dial
  • Malynda Wollert
  • Octavia Chilkoti
  • Paul Kamer
  • Rachel Hendrix
  • Siyu Chen
  • Sofia Silvosa
  • Sophia Cetina
  • Taylor Leigh Robinson
  • Zahra Hassan
  • Claire Cunnihan (Technical Contributor)

Data Access

All Dictionary of Art Historians content is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike International License. However you use our data, please cite us.

Data Dictionary

The following explains how we have defined each entry field. Where possible, we have mapped fields to the Dublin Core metadata standard. Vocabularies we use include The Getty’s Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), The Getty’s Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), and Homosaurus. When necessary, we have implemented additional localized terms.