Her current research project examines nineteenth-century British travel narratives in Alaska and the Arctic for the material traces of their religious context.
Hetty Goldman was born December 19, 1881, in New York City, to a family of material and intellectual means.
She considered a career in writing, but found, she said, that she had “as yet nothing to say.” In 1906, she took a three-month tour of archaeological sites in Italy, and soon after she enrolled in Radcliffe College for graduate study in classical languages and archaeology.
It was largely on the basis of her master’s thesis on Greek vase painting that she won the Charles Eliot Norton Fellowship to study at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in 1910–11.
So it is perhaps natural that a prehistorian sooner or later turns his eyes to Asia Minor for the solution to the problem of cultural origins in Greece and also for the study of the repercussions of prehistoric Greek culture upon the country from which it derived.” In October 1936, a year into the excavation, Goldman received an invitation to join the Faculty of the Institute.
She wrote to Abraham Flexner, the Institute’s founding Director, that after a discussion with Meritt she saw “the possibility of undisturbed work under conditions which certainly could not be equaled anywhere in America.” In addition to Meritt, she would be joining the archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld, also appointed to the Institute’s Faculty in 1936, who excavated in the Near East and who was interested in both ancient and Islamic sites.She wrote to Flexner from Tarsus in 1938, “The excavation is my first love and fundamentally I fear I am a wandering spirit.” During World War II, however, Goldman settled into life at the Institute, from which vantage she sponsored refugees from Europe.She returned to Tarsus in 1946–47, but it would be her last year of active excavation. She was still immersed in publishing material from Tarsus when a conference was held at the Institute in 1956 on the occasion of her seventy-fifth birthday and a festschrift was published in her honor.One of Goldman’s instructors had recently taken part in one of the first American excavations in Greece.After graduation, Goldman continued study in Classics at Columbia University and also worked as a manuscript reader.After the war, now serving as a representative for the Fogg Museum, Goldman chose Colophon, a Turkish city then controlled by Greece, as the site of her second major excavation.Her team included Benjamin Meritt, who in 1935 would become the first historian appointed to the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study.However, after ten weeks the work at Colophon was also interrupted—this time by the Greco-Turkish War.When the team returned, the antiquities from the excavation, with the exception of inscriptions they had reburied, were gone.Her mother, Sarah Adler Goldman, was the daughter of the Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in New York.Her father, Julius Goldman, was a lawyer whose father had founded the investment bank Goldman Sachs.