Elizabeth Stefanski

American Egyptologist and Coptic scholar, who was born and raised in Missouri, the daughter of Polish immigrants, but who chose the University of Chicago for college, earning a B.A. in 1919. There she was attracted to the study of ancient Egypt and stayed on to take graduate level courses with William F. Edgerton and T. George Allen. While being employed by the Oriental Institute’s Publications Office, she was attracted to specialize in Coptic and also studied at the Unversity of Michigan with William H. Worrell. During the 1930’s, Miss Stefanski published textual materials in the collection of the Oriental Institute’s Museum and became the editor of the Coptic Ostraca found by the University of Chicago’s expedition to Medinet Habu on the west bank at Luxor, Egypt. During World War II, Miss Stefanski’s language skills were put to use by the U.S. Army Signal Corps when she became a cryptographer. After the war, the Oriental Institute faced a deficit and laid off many of its non-tenured staff. Loss of her job caused Miss Stefanski to consider a return to military work, but she died prematurely of a heart attack. As a result, Dr. Miriam Lichtheim was given the responsibility of finishing the publication of the four hundred texts upon which Elizabeth Stefanski had spent many years.

Author of biography: Terry G. Wilfong
Includes bibliography? Yes

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Keywords: University of Chicago, Oriental Institute, Coptic ostraca, Medinet Habu, Late Antique Egypt, William F. Edgerton, T. George Allen, Elizabeth Hauser, University of Chicago’s Home-study Department, University of Michigan, William H. Worrell, Winifred Kammerer, Louise A. Shier, Elinor Mullet Husselman, Oriental Institute Museum, wlter Crum, W..C. Till, Molehill Press, World War II Army Signal Corps, cryptographer, John D. Rockefeller Jr., James Henry Breasted, Miriam Lichtheim

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Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists
Published by the University of Michigan Press, 2004