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Date: February 19, 1999

Art Museum Curator Frances Follin Jones Dies

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Frances Follin Jones, curator of collections at The Art Museum, Princeton University, from 1943 to 1983, died February 13 at the Quadrangle in Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she had lived since retirement.

Miss Jones studied Classical Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College (B.A. 1934, Ph.D. 1952), and worked on the excavation of the ancient city of Tarsus under the direction of the distinguished archaeologist Hetty Goldman. She first came to Princeton in 1939 as assistant to Goldman at the Institute for Advanced Study. Beginning in 1943, she divided her time between the Institute for Advanced Study and The Art Museum, but soon became a full-time member of the Museum staff, rising from secretary and assistant curator of Classical art to curator of Classical art in 1946. She was promoted to curator of collections in 1971.

While holding a full-time position at the Museum, she participated in several archaeological expeditions, as a member of the staff of the Princeton expedition to Sicily in 1955 and 1959, and as a visiting member of the excavations at Curium, Cyprus (University of Pennsylvania), and Aphrodisias, Turkey (New York University). Beginning in 1955, Miss Jones was one of the American correspondents for Fasti Archaeologici, an international digest of publications in archaeology, but her most lasting contribution to archaeological research was her publication of the Hellenistic and Roman Pottery from Tarsus, in Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus I (1950). At the Museum she was a founding editor of the Record of The Art Museum, Princeton University, and contributed numerous articles to that journal on works in the classical and also the American field.

Miss Jones remembered that when she arrived at the Museum in 1943 "the budget had just been raised to $500 per annum," and the staff consisted of herself; "Professor Frank Jewett Mather, Jr., the director, who lived in Bucks County and had only enough rationed gasoline to make the trip to Princeton once a week;" and "a janitor-guard, on duty in the afternoons." As both curator and registrar, she was responsible for cataloging the Museum's holdings, and her duties included preparing catalogue cards (for a collection eventually numbering in the tens of thousands of objects), as well as conducting research on objects in all fields, from ancient to contemporary. Miss Jones continued many of these duties, even as the staff expanded, until her retirement at the age of seventy in 1983. The current staff is constantly reminded of her unrelenting work making order in the collection, as a team of curators and registrars now builds on the foundations she laid almost single-handedly. In addition to her professional contributions, however, Miss Jones is remembered fondly by all who knew her as a woman with a gift for friendship and a puckish sense of humor, who once covered the private parts of the Museum’s Egyptian mummy with a scrap of Coptic textile before exhibiting it.

Friends, admirers, and colleagues of Frances Follin Jones (1912-1999) are invited to an informal gathering in remembrance of her at Wyndham, the Alumnae House of Bryn Mawr College, on Friday, March 12, at 3 p.m. Tributes may be sent to the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, 19010; The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton NJ 08544; or a benefaction of the donor's choice.