Edith Hall Dohan was a daughter of Ely Hall, a teacher and principal of the private Woodstock Academy in Connecticut, which she and her siblings attended. She loved sports and the study of Greek language and culture. She majored in the classics at Smith College, graduating with honors in 1899, and pursued graduate study at Bryn Mawr College, where she earned the first Ph.D. degree in classical archeology ever awarded by the college. In 1903, she won two fellowships that enabled her to study at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, where she was only female student. She spent two years studying the decorative elements on Mycenaean and Cretan pottery. She met Harriet Boyd (later Hawes), director of excavations at the site of Gournia, Crete, who took her on as a research assistant there. In 1905, after completing her doctoral dissertation, Decorative Art of Crete in the Bronze Age (published 1907), she returned to the USA and was named professor of classical archeology and Greek at Mount Holyoke College. She continued to work on digs in Crete, excavating at Sphoungaras in 1910 and Vrokastro in 1912. She left teaching to became assistant curator of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. In 1915, she married Joseph Dohan, a Pennsylvania lawyer with whom she had two children. Fifteen years later, she returned to the museum and was named associate curator. She also served as the book review editor for the American Journal of Archaeology. During these years, she worked on her last major publication, Italic Tomb Groups in the University Museum (1942).