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Local Classics


Local Classics is a project, facilitated by Contexts for Classics (CFC), which seeks to expand and complicate what it means for Classics to play out in the public spheres closest to us at U-M and in Ann Arbor, in a community setting including but not limited to the academy.

Explore below local histories of Classical studies, ancient language instruction, and ancient play productions compiled by U-M students for Local Classics, and browse archives of the local architecture and monuments influenced by the Greek world.

Do you consider yourself a part of or adjacent to an Ann Arbor or U-M community? Are you interested in engaging further with Local Classics? See our Get Involved page to begin your own research, propose a Local Classics project or event, or submit your own encounters with the Classical at U-M and in Ann Arbor. See also our panel discussion series, “Contexts for Classical Objects.”

A History of Modern Michigan Productions of Ancient Plays by Kate Bosher

Modern Productions of Ancient Plays at the University of Michigan

I.  A Brief History of Classical Drama in Performance at Michigan

Early playbills of the University Dramatic Club list no Greek or Roman plays, though an 1888 spoof by the U of M Minstrels called “Amaryllis or the Tale of Two Donkeys” with characters such as Chlorophyll, Wordycus, Sillycus, Windycus, The Roman Emperor, Exercitus(one F.L. Smith who impersonated the entire Roman army) and Asinus (the donkey) suggests that some fun was had out of the classical education of the day.  Fairly early on, moreover, the department of Classics seems to have gained a reputation for performing Plautus. [1] 

           In the first decades of the 20th century, productions of ancient plays were mounted by university groups.  The Senior Girls' play of 1917 was the "Iphigenia among the Taurians" performed in Greek with specially commissioned music for the choral odes.   Two professors from the Classics department, Herbert C. Kenyon and Campbell Bonner, collaborated in the music; the score, a detailed analysis of choral dances, and some general reflections on the production are in Albert Stanley’s Greek Themes in Modern Musical Settings of 1924.  Stylized costumes and sets evoked an ancient production, but, as Stanley notes, “the purpose was always kept in mind […] to re-create the Greek spirit rather than to copy meticulously features which would have been not only difficult with available stage equipment but probably bizarre in their effect had they been carried out.” [2] Thus the director dispensed with masks and chose Hill Auditorium as the acting area.  As happens surprisingly often, however, in choosing dramatic appropriateness over accepted views on ancient performance, the director made at least one staging decision that accords with what is now widely thought to have been ancient practice.  Stanley writes apologetically that “the altar, instead of being located in the centre of a lower level as would have been historically correct, was placed at the left of the stage, in order to give the space necessary for chorus evolution.” [3]   Recent studies, however, leave serious doubt as to whether there was a permanent altar in the center of the orchestra, or indeed anywhere else on the acting area. [4]   The most that can be safely concluded is that there was an altar of some sort, likely portable, placed at convenient locations in the orchestra.  All of which suggests that the 1917 production of Iphigenia among the Taurianswas, at least in this respect, more historically accurate than they thought.  

           According to Domis Plugge’s 1938 listing of Greek plays at American colleges, the “Iphigenia among the Taurians” was a favorite, performed at least 17 times in various colleges between 1897 and 1917.  Only the “Antigone” seems to have been staged more often in the same twenty-year period (Plugge lists 20 times at different colleges). [5]    Although the choice of play corresponds to the general tastes of the day, the decision to perform it in Greek was fairly original.  According to Plugge, only two other universities presented a play in Greek in the ten year period between 1915 and 1925, Randolph-Macon Women’s College, and Smith College.  

In 1930 Robert Henderson founded the Drama Season, a series of five plays produced each spring with a cast of professional actors.  Two years later, he earned his Masters degree from the University of Michigan.   “I think you have a FOUL university,” he wrote to Professor Bredfold in September 1932, “for being so precise on a poor laboring actor; but I do want the degree.  And I am sure I can give you a worthy paper for this extra hour…”  Frequent letters to his mentor, Prof. Campbell, suggest the passionate energy that brought the Drama Season into existence. “My dear Professor Campbell,” he wrote in 1931, “Really you have no idea what a thrilling season it is to be.  Miss Yurka says she is more interested in doing the ‘Electra’ than anything she has done for years; and Martha Graham is going to be superb in it.  We are having Louis Horst (the famous dance accompanist) as musical director of the production.  He will accompany all the performances of the ‘Electra’ and also COMPOSE the music.  Miss Graham’s program of solo dances is thrilling and will include the “Primitive Mysteries” which have been such a sensation this winter in New York.

The “Electra” of 1931 was a tremendous success, as the “Antigone” starring Margaret Anglin had been in the first Drama Season the year before.  John Anderson of the New York Post wrote of the “Electra,” “Blanche Yurka plunges this correspondent into adjectival poverty by the richness and surety of her performances.”  Henderson gloated to Campbell in 1932, “Now as to what the festival could be this year: what COULDN’T it be, I suppose, for after the “Electra” I can get practically anyone we want.”  Despite the success of these two classics, the Drama Season does not seem to have mounted another ancient play, though the festival itself continued to thrive apart from a brief lapse during the war years.

University productions filled the gap in the early 1930s with “Trojan Women” in 1932 and 1934 and “Hippolytus” in 1933.  There followed 16 years without any production of ancient plays large enough to leave a record until a third production of “Trojan Women,” outdoors on the steps of the Clements library in 1949.  The plays in the intervening years seem, in general, to be lighthearted modern comedies.  Even Giraudoux’s “No War in Troy,” which was the closest thing to a classical play in these years, seems to have been too heavy for the Michigan audiences of 1939.  “From ‘No War In Troy’ we learn, as its cardinal message, that the Trojans were the most talkative race ever to inhabit the earth.  Nobody has ever seen a talky play until he has beheld ‘No War in Troy.’  Mostly it’s a meeting of the Trojan Debating Society, with Ulysses as guest and defending champion, which lasts all evening.” (Russel McLauchlin, Detroit News, Tues. May 15, 1939)

The 1950s Department of Speech, i.e. Theater Department, performances of Aristophanes culminated in an extraordinary rendition of “Frogs” in the Varsity swimming pool in 1960.  This massive production employed seven huge choruses, including the “Lily Pads” performed by the Varsity swimming team.  Synchronized swimmers, dancers, singers, and actors all collaborated in a varied and mammoth spectacle which heralded a proliferation of Greek and Roman plays in the 1960s.

The only production of an Aeschylean play for which I have found a reference was the 1962 “Prometheus Bound” by the Student Laboratory Theater, whose programs warn that, “we are endeavouring to free ourselves from the necessity of producing only those plays which pay their way because of momentary popular appeal” -- a far cry from the jubilant tone with which Henderson announced his popular  productions of “Antigone” and “Electra” in the 1930s.  Nevertheless, to this mandate we no doubt owe the Student Laboratory’s string of rarely performed pieces in 1963, Plautus’ “The Pot of Gold,” Hrosuitha of Gandersheim’s “Callimachus” (10th century), and Menander’s “The Girl from Samos.”

In the 70s, classical plays were mounted predominantly by smaller divisions of the University: the Student Laboratory Theater, and the Residential College.  Perhaps because of the educational aims of these groups, the plays chosen were more rarely performed Euripides, though a Terence comedy (the only one in the history of the University as far as I have been able to determine) was requested by students who persuaded Martin Walsh, new to the University that year, to direct it.  He chose a 17th century translation in order to encourage careful diction, but added slapstick and a Plautine salami to enliven the performance.

To him and another director from the Residential College, Kate Mendeloff, we owe many of the classical productions of the 1990s.   The titles of the latter two productions, “Philoctetes in Vietnam,” and “Survivors:  the Trojan Women in Bosnia,” formally recognize our modern preoccupation with war and peace in the plays, an aspect of the ancient tragedies which has fascinated directors at least since the late 30s. After many excerpted performances and much workshopping, Professors Walsh and Mendeloff gave up the idea of mounting a full production of “Philoctetes” because they could not resolve the anti-war message they wanted to convey with Sophocles’ own ending.

A university Drama Department production of Antigone of 1998 infused the play with new concerns by dividing the characters along color lines.  This treatment of the play complemented a visiting production of Athol Fugard’s “The Island” of 2001 which addressed similar problems of racial injustice and freedom using the “Antigone” as its touchstone.


II. Chronological List of Classical Drama Productions at Michigan

1890 Menaechmi
1912 Alcestis, Senior Girls' Play
1916 Menaechmi,  Classical Club
1917 Iphigenia among the Taurians, Classical Club, Hill Auditorium
1930 Antigone, Drama Season, Play Production, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
1931 Electra (Sophocles), Drama Season, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
1932 The Trojan Women, Play Production, summer session, Speech Department
1933 Hippolytus, University Players
1949 The Trojan Women, Speech Department Summer Plays, The Clements Library

The Birds, Speech Department, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater

Medea (scenes), Speech Department, Student Laboratory Theater, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater

1954 Frogs (scenes), Speech Department, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
1955 Lysistrata (scenes), Speech Department
1959 Electra (Sophocles), Speech Department
1960 The Frogs, University Players, Varsity Swimming Pool
1961 The Twin Menaechmi (scenes), University Players
1962 Prometheus Bound, Student Laboratory Theater, Arena Theater, Frieze Building
1962/63 Medea, Professional Theater Program (PTP), Hill Auditorium

The Pot of Gold (Plautus), Student Laboratory Theater

Callimachus (Hrosuitha of Gandersheim), Student Laboratory Theater

The Girl from Samos (Menander), Student Laboratory Theater


The Trojan Women, PTP

Lysistrata, Student Laboratory Theater, Arena Theater, Frieze Building


The Curmudgeon (scenes), (Menander), Student Laboratory Theater, Arena Theater, Frieze Building

Casina (scenes), Student Laboratory Theater, Arena Theater, Frieze Building

Lysistrata, Student Laboratory Theater, Arena Theater, Frieze Building


Bacchae, Speech Department

Antigone, University Players and Speech Department, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater

Oedipus the King (scenes), PTP and University Players


Lysistrata, Trueblood Theater

The Magic of the Stage: Oedipus the King, PTP and University Players

1970 The Magic of the Stage: Antigone, PTP and University Players
1972 Iphigenia in Aulis, Student Laboratory Theater
1973 Iphigeneia in Aulis, Student Laboratory Theater, Frieze Arena Theater
1977  Eunuch (Terence), Residential College
1979/80 Cyclops (Euripides), Residential College
1982 The Trojan Women, University Player’s Showcase, The New Trueblood Arena, Frieze Building

Lysistrata, University Players

Oedipus, Project Theater, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater

1989 The Trojan Women, The University Players, Department of Theater and Drama
1991 Lysistrata, from a Play Production Seminar, Residential College
1993 Bacchae, Trueblood Theater
1994 Easy Virtue Plautus’ Cistellaria, Residential College
1995 Philoctetes in Vietnam, Residential College

Antigone, Uof M School of Music; Department of Theater and Drama

Survivors:  The Trojan Women in Bosnia, Residential College

2000 Lysistrata, Department of Theater and Drama, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
2002 Medea, Abbey Theater, Power Center Theater

III. Patterns and Problems in Modern Productions

In recent decades at the University of Michigan, the sheer number of performances of “Trojan Women” and “Lysistrata” attest to the popularity of anti-war plays.  Program notes to the University Player’s showcase production of “Trojan Women” in 1982 outline a typical approach to making the play relevant to the modern audience: “Euripides shows us the waste of all wars and what happens when political necessity is used to justify murder and oppression.  Political necessity stalks the world today as it did in Troy.  It is found in Poland, Lebanon, The Falkland Islands and in the nuclear arm’s contest.” 

Though the themes of Greek drama often resonate with a modern audience, the style of writing, with its long speeches and choral odes, can sometimes be irritating.  A reviewer of this 1982 production of “Trojan Women” did not think that the performance overcame the problems of style:  “The Trojan women should be shot.  They rail and moan for almost two hours in Trueblood theatre this week as they await slavery at the hands of the victorious Greek army and I find - paradoxically - that this anti-war play has raised my basic level of murderousness to an uncomfortable degree.” (Rachel Urist, Ann Arbor News, 11 Nov. 1982)

Choruses, too, generally pose a problem to the modern director attempting to adapt the play to suit a modern audience.  Martin Walsh suggests that the boom in classical theater of the 60s might be due to an increasing identification with the “group:” choral dances and the emphasis on the collective rather than the individual appealed to that generation, more than it did to the audiences of earlier and later decades.  Certainly, Richard Schechner’s famous “Bacchae” production of ‘69 took full advantage of the spirit of the 60s. [6]

Intrinsic difficulties of form, language and themes aside, producers of ancient theater face an insidious enemy: the modern conception of what a classical play was, or rather, should be.  Harmen Mitchell’s review of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” entitled, “Traditionalists beware! U-M company’s Lysistrata isn’t for you.” demonstrates the strong hold these preconceptions have on us, “it hardly seems worth it to note that anyone with any sense of how Greek theater should be presented will be appalled by this fast, loose, and noisy adaptation.  But if you’re looking for a good time, and you don’t mind being dazzled, you couldn’t ask for a better time.  This is, beneath the bluster and the snickers, fine theater.” (Ann Arbor News, 28 March 1986)  One wonders how Harmen Mitchell thought Aristophanes’ bawdy, outrageous comedy about women refusing sex to their husbands and lovers until they agree to stop the war, and then rewarding them with “Peace,” that is, a naked woman to be divided among them, “should be presented.”  It is true that director Philip Kerr’s introduction of a roaring motorcycle brings the play sharply into modern focus; but the ancient habit of flying gods onto the stage with enormous machinery was hardly less sensational.

But these are old debates which trouble modern audiences everywhere.  Some try to solve the problem by writing modern versions of ancient myths and stories; I did not attempt to include the many modern plays and musicals inspired by ancient themes which have been performed in Ann Arbor (for example, “Antigone” by Anouilh (1984), “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1987), “Andromache” by Racine (1993) among many others). We can take some comfort in the experience of Kerriann Tupac of the University Drama Productions who believes that though ancient plays are harder to sell, audiences do like them when they come. [7]  Martin Walsh at the Residential College is quick with names of ancient plays he would like to produce here, including the “Rhesus” of Euripides and Aristophanes’  “Wealth.”

Most recently, in the fall of 2002, the Abbey Theater brought its brilliant and controversial production of the “Medea” to the University’s largest theater, the Power Center.  Dispensing with the magical elements of the play (there was, for instance, no dragon-drawn chariot to sweep Medea off to safety at the end, though the director said she toyed with the idea of using a helicopter), the production brought out the psychological and emotional bonds between the characters.  Medea’s helpless desire for and love of Jason, despite her anger at his betrayal, made Jason’s famous claim that “Aphrodite made Medea help him out of Chalkis” absolutely believable.  But, in this production, Aphrodite was no divinity, she was simply a name for the mystery of Medea’s very human love.  Aware of the many ironies of her situation, Medea played some of her lines for laughs with a dry and cutting intelligence which often had the audience laughing uproariously.  Though some objected to this unexpected humor in the tragedy, for most of us it was an excellent foil for the bitter suffering of a Medea more human than witch, and more hurt than vengeful.

IV.  Bibliography and Links 

Arnott, Peter D.  1987.  “North America” in ed. J. Michael Walton, Living Greek Theatre: A Handbook of Classical Performance and Modern Production.

Hartigan, Karelisa. 1995.  Greek Tragedy on the American Stage.

Plugge, Domis.  1938.  History of Greek Play Production in American Colleges and Universities from 1881 to 1936.

Schechner, Richard.  1970. Dionysus in 69.

Stanley, Albert A.  1924.  Greek Themes in Modern Musical Settings.

Classical Journal (1905-1917), Terre Haute, Indiana.

This brief summary of productions of classical theater at the University of Michigan is based on program notes and records kept by various departments of the University.  It is certainly incomplete.  I welcome any additions or comments by visitors to this site.  Many thanks to Martin Walsh of the Residential College, Kerriann Tupac and Joel Aalberts of the University Productions Office, the staff of the Bentley Library, Professor Yopie Prins, Meilee Bridges, Katia and Sandra Koelle, and K. Cecil Bosher.


[1]   Cf. Arnott (1987) 356. The performances of the “Menaechmi” (1890 and 1916) were probably just two in a string of productions of Plautus.  Unfortunately, there do not seem to be records in any official place (the department, or the university libraries) and research would probably have to be done on private papers if they could be tracked down.  Professor Don Cameron also remembered the tradition continuing, or revived, in more recent years, but I have not yet been able to track down the specifics.

[2] Stanley (1924) 191.  

[3] Stanley (1924) 191-192.  

[4] Cf. J.P. Poe (1989) “The Altar in the Fifth Century Theater,” CA 8, p. 116-139, on the likelihood that altars were placed to one side in order to leave a clear view of the chorus and actors in the orchestra. For a re-evaluation of the assumption that there was an altar in the theater of Dionysos at Athens, cf. C. Ashby, (1999) Classical Greek Theater, p. 43. On the lack of sufficient evidence for an altar at Epidauros, cf. Gerkan and Muller-Wiener (1961) Das Theater von Epidauros, 8.  For discussion of some evidence for an altar at Philippi, cf. Collart, Paul. (1928) BCH. vol. 52, p. 96-97, and at Isthmia, cf. Gebhard (1973) The Theater at Isthmia, p. 13.  For a discussion of the altar at Thorikos, which is wedged up close to the seats at the side of the orchestra, cf. T. Hackens (1965) “Le Théâtre.”  Thorikos. vol. 3, p. 93-95 and Gebhard (1973) n. 10.   

[5] Plugge (1936) pp. 16-21.  In fact, Plugge lists the “Iphigeneia among the Taurians” as the second most frequently performed in all the years between 1881 to 1936.  His method of collecting data, however, which was to mail questionnaires to universities and colleges, though it received enough replies to represent a fair sample, is by no means comprehensive.  The University of Michigan, for example, didn’t reply to his questionnaire, and only the 1917 production of the “Iphigeneia among the Taurians,” which he learnt from another source, is listed in the book. 

[6] On this production of the Bacchae, see Dionysus in 69, ed. Richard Schechner (1970).  For a history of this and other professional productions of Greek theater in the United States, see Karelisa V. Hartigan (1995) Greek Tragedy on the American Stage, passim 

[7] Cf. Hartigan’s observation that audiences are attracted by professional productions of classical plays, though they do not always enjoy them in the end (supra n.1, p. 1).

A History of Michigan Latin by Debbie Ross

Michigan Latin: Past, Present and Future

In 1924, the Classical Investigation, a study undertaken by the American Classical League, reported a shift in the focus of teaching Latin from the ability to write to the ability to read.  As a result, the amount of prose composition in textbooks diminished and was replaced by a variety of reading-oriented exercises.   But while the goal of Latin instruction became reading rather than writing, an accompanying change in teaching methods was lacking.  There were no specific instructions on how to go about reading Latin or translating from Latin into English.  That missing component stimulated Waldo E. Sweet and his colleagues Gerda M. Seligson and Glenn M. Knudsvig, to develop an approach to Latin pedagogy which has come to be known as ‘Michigan Latin’.

Twenty-five years after the Classical Investigation, Waldo Sweet was teaching Latin at the Penn Charter School in Pennsylvania.  He became intrigued with the application of structural linguistics to the teaching of foreign languages.  Applied structural linguists used organized descriptions of the phonological, morphological, and syntactic systems of languages to highlight differences between the target language and the student’s native tongue.  Sweet was particularly influenced by the work of Charles Fries, began to consider the possibility of applying Fries’ theories of second-language acquisition to the teaching of Latin.  He received support from the Carnegie Corporation for two Latin workshops held at the University of Michigan in the summers of 1952 and 1953.

In 1950, Gerda Seligson was teaching at the Brearley School in New York when she attended an Independent Schools meeting and heard a paper given by Sweet on the application of structural linguistics to the teaching of Latin.  The paper was received by the audience at large with some scepticism, but Seligson stood up (the only woman in the audience to speak) and said “That man is right!”.  She was subsequently invited to be a participant at the 1952 and 1953 workshops in Ann Arbor, where participants collected and analyzed data and produced a structural description of the Latin language.

In 1953 Sweet came to the University of Michigan as Associate Professor of Latin and the Teaching of Latin.  He continued to explore the application of linguistics to Latin pedagogy and in 1957 he published Latin: A Structural Approach (LASA), explaining:

After using the Experimental Materials for one year, I plunged further ahead in unorthodox lines, resulting in the publication…of Latin: A Structural Approach.  My purpose was not so much to write a textbook for the average teacher as to try out new techniques…At one time or another I have discarded almost all of the traditional methods, but if I could find nothing better to replace them with I have returned to them.

In his description of the Latin language in LASA, Sweet replaced 19th century notional categories with a set of categories arrived at through the observation of their formal distribution.  The distinctive features of ‘Sweet Latin’ include a horizontal paradigm showing the forms of a single case in all declensions (rather than the traditional introduction of all forms in a single declension), pattern practices typical of modern language instruction applied to, and the use of ‘real’ vs. ‘made-up’ Latin from the beginning.

In 1956, Seligson also came to Michigan to teach at the University School and in the Department of Classical Studies, and continued collaborative work with Sweet.  Seligson’s contributions in those early years were refining a method of teaching strategies for translation and reading (calledmetaphrasing).  Her classroom experiences led her to realize that while Sweet’s pattern practices were an effective drilling procedure, there was still a need for morpho-syntactic analysis in order to achieve comprehension.   LASA was revised in 1966 with Seligson and Ruth Craig as co-authors.  This text continued to be used at Michigan until 1981, when it was replaced by the first version ofLatin for Reading.

Sweet produced a variety of pedagogical materials during these years.  One of the most well-known is his unique programmed course Artes Latinae (described by Seligson “his magnificent monument to behaviorism at its strictest”) which shows the influence of Skinner and the behaviorists.  Artes is still used extensively by students learning Latin in a home-school environment.

Structural linguistics formed the basis for Sweet’s approach. He explains:

A structural linguist assumes that a student of any language will have difficulty wherever the target language differs from his own.  He further assumes that wherever the student has difficulty a contrast between the two languages must exist.  It has also been observed that partial contrasts are more difficult to grasp than complete contrasts.  The student apparently is misled by the partial similarities…The traditional approach has been the exact opposite. …The traditional approach tried to explain the contrasts by pointing out the similarities, which were in many cases superficial and in all cases were the chief sources of difficulty, since the students assumed that because these items were like English in some respects they must be like English in them all.

Two technical terms introduced by Sweet and still in use in Michigan Latin are metaphrasing andkernel.  Seligson described metaphrasing as a technique “by which the replacement of Latin structural signals with English signals can be taught,” that is, a technique for teaching, practicing translation, and reading.  With metaphrasing, a minimum syntactic context for each Latin unit is provided in English and the final result of metaphrasing a sentence would be a structural translation in English word order.  The term kernel (the obligatory elements of subject and predicate)  first appears in the 1966 LASA, although the notion of “sentence kernel” is found in earlier articles.

During the 1960s Sweet’s and Seligson’s interest in transformational grammar gave rise to an emphasis on sentence-level phenomena, most notably gapping.  Gapping, traditionally called ellipsis, is the absence of common elements in one of two clauses, or, in linguistic terms, ‘unfulfilled syntactical expectations.’  This notion was included in the 1966 LASA, but the term gapcame into use only following an 1970 article by John Robert Ross on gapping.  Like the kernel and metaphrasing, the concept of the gap proved highly significant, as it allowed a systematic treatment of an area of Latin which follows rules distinctly different from those of English.

In 1963 Glenn Knudsvig brought his interests in Latin, psycholinguistics,  and reading theory to Michigan.  In 1974 he began writing with Seligson and in the early 1980s they began work on a new textbook in the linguistic tradition – Latin for Reading.  The revised edition of LfR (currently in use at Michigan) was published in 1986.  In a l983 article, Seligson discusses the motivation for writing LfR:

The first consideration was our gradual realization that in spite of lack of results as measured by performance the standard traditional approach flourishes again.  Disappointed with some inefficient features of experimental courses teachers have sought refuge in prestructuralism, throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  A talented studented acquires mastery of phonology, morphology, syntax and vocabulary at a high price in nervous energy while learning to read almost accidentally.  But the less talented students, handicapped by today’s lack of basic verbal education, does not learn to read.  To teach this student to read Latin is our goal….The second consideration was the fact that the theoretical work of linguists inside and outside of the United States seems to confirm and validate many of our conclusions and practices.

A comparison of LfR with Sweet’s work shows a number of developments:  the pattern practices are dropped; metaphrasing and translation strategies are more prevalent throughout; gapping is formally treated; the systems of morphology, syntax, and semantics are distinguished; kernel and modification categories are expanded; the notion of syntactic equivalents is included for the first time.  Semantic categories with syntactic consequences, such as animacy, were introduced.   A major advance in LfR was the formalization of expectations for the reader.  Seligson again:

We have tried to combine the facts of structure on all levels and of gapping and deletion with the notion of expectation.  The formation of expectations is the condicio sine qua non for learning to read your own or any other language.

Knudsvig’s contribution to Michigan Latin was two-fold.  First, he clarified the categories of morphology and syntax, made further refinements in the area of semantics, and added categories in pragmatics, discourse phenomena, and word order.  With Knudsvig’s work, significant advances were made in moving from teaching students to read at the sentence level to teaching them to read at the level of connected text.

With the publication of LfR, the treatment of Latin syntax was refined to the point that, 19 years later, we generally satisfied with its descriptive accuracy.  The vast area of semantics – issues of meaning - was a natural next step.  Starting in 1985, Seligson and Knudsvig began working more extensively in this area, attempting to describe the semantic system of Latin in an organized and pedagogically useful way.

When linguistic research showed that Latin word order was largely governed by the organization of information at the level of connected text, Knudsvig’s attention turned toward the study of discourse analysis.  With the development of theories of discourse analysis, Knudsvig began looking at the discourse features of Latin and analyzing them with the intention of training students to recognize and be aware of the characteristics of connected text, and thus improve their comprehension.

Knudsvig’s other major contribution to  Michigan Latin was the development of specific strategies for reading Latin, which offer students a systematic way of approaching a text.  Metaphrasing, which had been hitherto primarily a static written exercise, matured into a dynamic process using a simple series of three questions a student could reiteratively ask and answer: “what do I see?” (eliciting part of speech and morphological information), “therefore, what do I have?” (moving to the level of syntactic function), and “therefore, what do I expect?” (the verbal equivalent of a metaphrase).  This habit of thought gave learning readers a series of things to consider, with consequential decisions.

Knudsvig’s untimely death in 1998 cut short his personal contributions, but those of us still here at Michigan continue to develop the linguistic approach.  We still use the 1986 version of Latin for Reading, but a revision is underway that will incorporate information about semantics, word order and ambiguity formalized since its publication.

Michigan Latin has a presence  not only here in Ann Arbor, but across the country and beyond.   Starting in about 1995, an increasing number of presentations on aspects and applications of Michigan Latin began to be given at national conferences, most by people who did their pedagogical training at Michigan, but some by paper and workshop attendees who became intrigued.  Work is currently being done on critical thinking in the Latin classroom, Latin vocabulary, pedagogical applications of word order research, techniques for making the initial transition into authentic connected texts, and  developing Michigan Latin templates which can be used as a linguistic overlay with traditional or reading approach textbooks.  Michigan Latin concepts such askernel, metaphrasing, gapping and expectations have found their way recently into articles and materials in the outside world:  a middle school teacher in Texas uses metaphrasing with the Cambridge Latin course; a handbook for intermediate readers incorporates readingquestions; an introductory Aeneid text uses the term ‘gapping’.

We continue, both here at Michigan and elsewhere, to follow Sweet’s dual vision of employing the principles of linguistic science to inform our teaching of the language, and to teach students to read Latin as Latin.  There is now, almost 55 years later, a large and growing number of teachers across the country at all levels – from elementary school through university – who use the Michigan method either in a pure or modified form.  We at Michigan feel that this approach carries with it the message that all students can learn something using this method, and that students and teachers together can learn to think about language in new and exciting ways.

Deborah Pennell Ross
Elementary Latin Program
Department of Classical Studies
The University of Michigan

One Hundred and Five Years of Classics at Michigan by Chad Schroeder

One Hundred and Five Years of Classics at Michigan (1841–1946)
a resource of the contexts for classics program

The First Thirty Years | The 1870s and Beyond | The Early Twentieth Century Bibliography of (Some) Michigan Classicists | Other Early Teachers of Classics at Michigan | The Humanistic Series | Sources

Welcome to the Contexts for Classics resource on the history of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan. This page offers an overview of the study of classical languages and literature for the first century of the University of Michigan. It chronicles the development and expansion of the study of antiquity and presents the work of the students and faculty in an international context.

 The First Thirty Years

Drafted on the eighteenth of May, 1837, the founding charter of the University of Michigan called for the establishment of a professorship in Ancient Languages. In September 1841, the Board of Regents appointed Reverend Joseph Whiting, a graduate of Yale University, as Professor of Greek and Latin. Professor Whiting occupied his post until his death in 1845. Just to the east of the Rackham Graduate Library stands a monument, intended as the tombstone of Whiting, with this Latin inscription:


To the Memory of Joseph Whiting A.M. Minister of the Gospel who after he had filled the office of president of an academy of the University of Michigan in exemplary fashion then was selected for the chair of Latin and Greek in that same university. With the unusual affection of all men, he lived forty-five years and died on July 20, 1845. The Regents of the University as the only thing they could do caused this monument to be erected.

Instruction in Greek and Latin during the tenure of Professor Whiting was rigorous and mandatory. All freshmen were expected to read large selections (in Greek) from Xenophon, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Homer, and (in Latin) from Cornelius Nepos, Caesar, Cicero, Sallust, Vergil, as well as the modern patriotic treatise Vita Washingtonii. By their senior year of college, all Michigan students had worked their way through much more of Greek and Latin literature than many of their modern counterparts.

In 1845, the Regents chose the Reverend John Homes Agnew to replace Whiting as Professor of Greek and Latin. He made minor changes to the curriculum, mainly by instituting the study of Plato and the New Testament in Greek. Already by the 1848–1849 academic year, the study of Greek was under assault as major curricular changes were taking place at the university during the presidency of Henry Tappan (Tobin, 2005). Instead of continuing with their study of Greek literature started as freshmen, juniors were required to study both French and Spanish, with Italian being added in the senior year. Towards the end of Agnew’s tenure, he gave up instruction in Latin complaining of overwork, and left the teaching of Latin to two professors of Philosophy. Because of Agnew’s refusal to teach Latin, and his involvement in the establishment of fraternities and secret societies on campus, the Board of Regents removed him from his post in 1851. During the spring term of 1852, for the first and only time in its history, the University of Michigan was without an official instructor in ancient languages.

James Robinson Boise, a graduate of Brown University, replaced Agnew for the fall term of 1852. Hired initially as Professor of Greek and Latin Languages, Boise only taught courses in both languages for one term. His duties were scaled back to teaching only Greek when the Reverend Erastus Otis Haven was hired as Professor of Latin in December, 1852. Haven retained this post for only a year and a half. The division of teaching between Boise and Haven profoundly altered the instruction of Classics at the University of Michigan. For nearly one hundred years, until their merger in 1946 as the Department of Classical Studies, the Department of Greek and the Department of Latin functioned as independent academic units. Although a few instructors taught in both departments, most were limited in their teaching to either Greek or Latin.

Professor Boise continued teaching courses in Ancient Greek until his departure for the University of Chicago in 1868. Under Boise, Greek instruction at Michigan began to take on a broader scope than the simple mastery of the ancient Greek language. On the model of the German gymnasium, he integrated secondary readings into the curriculum in order to deepen the students’ understanding of the Classical authors they were being trained to read. He was regarded as an exact and vigilant scholar, and one of his colleagues remembered him as “the most critical scholar of us all” (Frieze, 1888). Professor Boise was also instrumental in opening the doors of the University of Michigan to women when most universities did not admit female students (Wood, 1896).

Henry Simmons Frieze was hired to replace Erastus Haven by the Board of Regents in the summer of 1854. Instruction in Latin, like instruction in Greek, after the 1848–1849 school year was no longer required during a student’s senior year, the ancient languages being replaced with French, Spanish, or Italian. One of Frieze’s first actions was to have the exclusion of Latin from the senior year repealed. Professor Frieze was also a motivating factor behind the University’s acquisition of antiquities for the Museum of Art and Antiquities, for which he served as curator. Professors Frieze and Boise began courses in teacher training for senior students who wished to become secondary school teachers. This teacher training program may have been the first systematic course in pedagogy in this country. Frieze made important contributions to the Department of Latin until his death in 1889. He now rests in the most remarkable memorial in Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor, a replica of the famous sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatus.

 The 1870s and Beyond

The departure of Professor Boise for the University of Chicago in 1868 marked a turning point for the study of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan. Two professors of Greek were hired in quick succession, and they were to shape the department for nearly the next half century. The first was Martin Luther D’Ooge, who was born in the Netherlands but studied as an undergraduate of the University of Michigan (he had been Boise’s pupil). He was appointed Assistant Professor of Greek by the Board of Regents in September, 1867. For the next forty-five years, with only brief intervals for overseas study or teaching, Professor D’Ooge remained a member of University of Michigan’s Department of Greek. Like many of the Greek professors before him (e.g., Whiting, Agnew, Boise), D’Ooge had been hired as an Assistant Professor without his doctorate. But unlike his predecessors, D’Ooge continued his education and earned his doctorate. He took a leave of absence from the University of Michigan in 1870, and completed his doctorate in 1872 with the linguist Georg Curtius at Leipzig, Germany. Had D’Ooge gone to Germany to study a mere two years earlier, he would have been a fellow student of Friedrich Nietzsche, who left Leipzig in 1869. Albert Henderson Pattengill was the other professor hired in the wake of Boise’s departure. He was appointed by the Board of Regents in 1869 as Assistant Professor of Greek and French. Like Martin D’Ooge, he remained loyal to the University of Michigan for the next forty or so years, and finally retired as a full Professor of Greek a year before his death in 1906. Although less influential as a scholar than D’Ooge, Pattengill remained a significant force in the Department of Greek for nearly forty years.

D’Ooge’s training in Germany was instrumental for an important broadening of the Classics curriculum at the University of Michigan. D’Ooge (and others) began to teach classes on larger themes rather than individual authors. Thus one could now enroll in courses on “Greek Tragedy,” or the “History of Greek Literature,” or even the “History of Classical Scholarship.” Focus on subdisciplines within the Classics made a departure from the traditional courses on individual authors. D’Ooge’s linguistic training in Germany also led to a course on “Historical Greek Grammar” in which he required that his students learn the rudiments of Sanskrit. Even the courses on individual authors began to take into account Greek poets that were considered ‘uncanonical’ (e.g., Theocritus, Callimachus, Lucian, etc.) and were often excluded from the traditional curriculum. Under D’Ooge emphasis continued to be placed on the training of teachers for the secondary schools. The Latin curriculum was expanded as well; Cornelius Nepos and the Vita Washingtonii were supplanted by the letters of Pliny the Younger and Seneca, Plautus, Martial, and Lucretius.

D’Ooge’s training in Germany also led to an interest in archaeology. As early as the 1883–1884 academic year, D’Ooge taught a course entitled “Homeric Antiquities”. And this is hardly coincidental for the preceding decade had seen the publication of Heinrich Schliemann’s Troy and its Remains (London, 1875), Mycenae (London, 1878), and Ilios: The City and Country of the Trojans (London, 1880). The international educated public took notice of the rediscovery of the Greek Bronze Age, due in large to Schliemann’s superhuman efforts of self-publication, and Michigan students were surely interested in learning more about this period of Greek prehistory as it was unfolding.

D’Ooge’s reputation as a well-rounded Classicist led to his selection as the director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for the year 1886–1887, the fifth year of the School’s existence. While in Athens, D’Ooge became acquainted with Heinrich Schliemann and Wilhelm Dörpfeld, whose Homeric researches had been of such interest to him. During D’Ooge’s directorship, the cornerstone of the School’s main building was laid with a ceremony that included the slaughter of a rooster. Since the building remains in use to this day, the sacrifice was apparently well received. In Greece D’Ooge himself led excursions to sites near Athens and through the Peloponnesus, and arranged for the excavation of the theater at Sicyon. D’Ooge was unsparing in his praise of the school’s mission:

“Greek literature and history will have a new meaning, and Greek art a fresh beauty, to him who has been so fortunate as to spend even a few months amid the inspiring associations of Greece, with the aids and direction afforded by our School at Athens….I, for one, cannot doubt that this school is destined to give classical studies in our country a new and more vigorous life.” (Seventh Annual Report, Lord, 1947: 27)

As with his time at Leipzig, D’Ooge’s encounter with Modern Greece and the monuments of Ancient Greece strongly impacted the instruction of Greek studies at Michigan. After D’Ooge’s return to Michigan, he instituted a course on the Greek travel writer Pausanias who toured Athens and the rest of Greece in the second century c.e. Pausanias remains even today one of the primary witnesses to the remains of Classical Athens. D’Ooge also taught courses in Greek Epigraphy.

Even before D’Ooge landed in Greece, Classicists from Michigan were looking towards Classical lands. A student from Michigan named Walter Miller enrolled in the American School at Athens for the year 1885–1886. At the conclusion of the academic year, he set off on a walking tour he hoped would take him all the way to Istanbul, visiting archaeological sites along the way. He did not get beyond the further slope of one of the mountain ranges which encircle Athens. On only his second day out, he was robbed, beaten unconscious, and left for dead by two local villagers. The bloodied Miller managed to return to Athens to lodge a complaint with the local authorities. The authorities thereupon commissioned Miller as a Captain in the Greek army, and sent him out with a posse to apprehend the criminals. A few days later the brigands were in jail. To his credit, Miller altered his testimony at their trial so the two would not be sentenced to death. They were, however, sentenced to ten years in a prison on the island of Aegina (seeLord, 1947: 278–94).

Francis Willey Kelsey was hired to teach in the Department of Latin in 1889 by the ailing Professor Frieze (he died in December of that year). The next year he became head of the department. Although a Professor of Latin, Kelsey is equally well remembered for his pursuit of archaeology. While publishing on Lucretius, Ovid, and Caesar, Professor Kelsey also taught courses such as “Roman Archaeology: Topography and Architectural History of the City of Rome” and “Sculpture and Painting in the Roman Period.” He also offered classes on Roman numismatics and the remains of Pompeii.

 The Early Twentieth Century

Near the turn of the twentieth century, many respectable programs in Classics in America had their own monograph series. Harvard University, for example, began publishing their Harvard Studies in Classical Philology in 1890. The University of Michigan, at Professor Kelsey’s urging, began their own series in 1904 with an inaugural volume by Henry Sanders entitled Roman Historical Sources and Institutions. The Michigan Humanistic Series continued publishing until 1950, with such varied contribution as Louis Karpinski’s Robert of Chester’s Latin Translation of the Algebra of al-Khowarizmi and Benjamin Merritt’s Athenian Financial Documents of the Fifth Century. Many of the University’s holdings in manuscripts and papyri were also published in this series. The contributions to the series dealt largely with the ancient world, but the series had quite a wide range. John Garrett Winter, a managing editor, thus summed up the series’ purpose: “TheHumanistic Series is devoted to scholarly publication of materials dealing with all the various phases of the culture and civilization of the Mediterranean lands and the Near East in antiquity. The field therefore includes archaeology, history, literature, papyrology, and palaeography” (Winter, 1942). A list of the volumes produced in this series can be found below.

One of Professor D’Ooge’s most able students, John Garrett Winter took his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1906 and was immediately hired as an instructor in Greek and Latin. He was promoted to full professor of Greek and Latin in 1919. Professor Winter was a key figure in the acquisition and arrangement of Newberry Hall (now the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology) as a Museum of Archaeology. During his long service to the university, he was a director of the Museum of Classical Archaeology and of the Division of Fine Arts.

Along with Professor Kelsey, Professor Winter spent much time working with the University’s papyri collection. Acquisition of papyri in the early days of collecting was accomplished through legal and illegal channels. Sometimes questionable dealings produced memorable stories. Enoch Peterson, the Director of Michigan’s Archaeological Expedition in Egypt, wrote to John Garrett Winter that an Egyptian pasha had let it be known that he had a manuscript for sale,

“So I went one morning…to the home of this person but we found him out. His wife was in and agreed to show us some of the manuscripts. She, of course, had the most absurd ideas about everything. She showed me a long roll which must be a Hebrew Bible, not ancient at all, though she thought it must be at least four thousand years old.” (Peterson, 1933).

Needless to say, Peterson did not purchase the manuscript for the University.

Professor Kelsey continued to straddle the field of Latin literature and archaeology. From 1919 on, he directed the excavation of Pisidian Antioch, dug at Carthage, and helped to start the university’s excavations at Karanis in Egypt. The digs at Pisidian Antioch and Karanis uncovered such a wealth of material, papyrological and otherwise, that both continue to serve as important areas of research for scholars at the University of Michigan and are frequently featured in museum expositions.

Herbert Fletcher De Cou, a graduate of the University of Michigan, held various academic posts in the Departments of Greek and Latin throughout the 1890s and the 1900s. Although never permanently hired by the University of Michigan, he has a somewhat singular status among its many teachers of classics: he was murdered. In 1910, the American Institute of Archaeology received permission to excavate the North African city of Cyrene, which had been one of the most important Greek colonies. In March 1911, Assistant Director De Cou was murdered by three locals while on his way to the archaeological site. (Russell, 1993).

After teaching for a number of years at Olivet College in Detroit, Albert Robinson Crittenden (Michigan A.B. 1894) was hired by the Department of Latin in 1908. He continued in this position until his death in 1933, at which time he held the rank of full professor. Like other instructors at the time, Crittenden was interested in Latin pedagogy and was involved in the development of teaching certification in Latin at the University. It had long been taken for granted that the bulk of students’ instruction in Latin and Greek would have been accomplished in the high schools. Instruction in ancient languages had, however, fallen off to a precipitous point. In 1901, the university changed graduation requirements so that Latin and Greek were no longer required to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in LSA. Writing in 1922, Crittenden acknowledged that,

“It should be frankly recognized that we are working under conditions widely different from those prevailing in college life a generation ago. For one thing, the majority of our students no longer come to us with four years of Latin…” (1922: 1)

Crittenden had collected statistics showing that in 1910, 38% of the entering freshmen had taken four years of Latin in high school, whereas by 1919 this number had fallen to 20%; inversely, in 1910 20% of entering freshmen had studied Latin for two years, but by 1919, this number had swollen to 53%. This showed that more and more students were coming to Latin late. Crittenden proposed to address the changes in the student body by restructuring Latin instruction to take account of the lower level of students’ preparation. And for those who had not had the opportunity or motivation to study Latin in high school (in 1919 a surprising 23% of the entering freshmen), Crittenden proposed offering college credit for the first two years of Latin.

The deaths of Professor Kelsey in 1927 and Professor Crittenden in 1933 left the Department of Latin in a rather severe condition. The Department of Greek had suffered its greatest losses near 1910 with the deaths of Professors D’Ooge and Pattengill. Both the Departments of Greek and Latin saw a steady turnover of instructors starting in the 1920s, and continuing through the 1940s. A full list of instructors can be found below.

The history of the Departments of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan during their first hundred years is remarkable. From humble beginnings, both departments were offering world-class instruction within a few short decades because of the qualities and dedication of their instructors. From the 1870s onward, one could study under internationally connected and respected scholars, and students soon took advantage of their own international study. Two factors, the gradual erosion of classics as a core curriculum and the expansion of the departments from the 1880s onward, contributed to the development of specialty courses and, later, professors who contributed to the richness of the classical education at the university. Although artificially and needlessly separated, the departments contributed to one another and to the general academic environment at the university. In 1946, the departments were merged into what is now the Department of Classical Studies, but that is a different story.

 Bibliography of (Some) Michigan Classicists

James Robinson Boise. 1815–1895.

  • Exercises in Greek Prose Composition Adapted to the First Book of Xenophon’s Anabasis. New York and Philadelphia, 1849. Multiple editions.
  • Xenophon’s Anabasis with Explanatory Notes. New York, 1857. Multiple editions.
  • First Lessons in Greek. Chicago, 1870. Multiple editions.
  • Exercises in Greek Prose Composition. Chicago, 1872. (With Elisha Jones). Multiple editions.
  • The First Six Books of Homer’s Iliad with Explanatory Notes. Chicago, 1874.
  • Exercises in Some of the More Difficult Principles of Greek Syntax. Chicago, 1874.
  • Notes, Critical and Explanatory, on the Greek Text of Paul’s Epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. New York and Boston, 1896.

Albert R. Crittenden. 1867–1933.

  • Excavations in the Roman Forum. N.P., 1903.
  • The Sentence Structure in Virgil. Ann Arbor, 1911.
  • Readings in Roman Law. Yellow Springs, OH, 1928.

Martin Luther D’Ooge. 1839–1915.

  • The Oration of Demosthenes on The Crown. Chicago, 1875. Multiple editions.
  • Sophocles’ Antigone Edited on the Basis of Wolff’s Edition. Boston, 1884.
  • Catalogue of the Gallery of Art and Archaeology in the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, 1892. Multiple editions.
  • The Acropolis of Athens. New York and London, 1908.
  • Nicomachus of Gerasa’s Introduction to Arithmetic. New York and London, 1926. (With F. E. Robbins and L. C. Karpinski). Multiple editions.

Henry Simmons Frieze. 1817–1889.

  • Virgil’s Aeneid with Explanatory Notes. New York, 1860. Multiple editions.
  • A Vergilian Dictionary Embracing all the Words Found in the Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid of Vergil. New York, 1882.
  • The Tenth and Twelfth Books of the Institutions of Quintilian with Explanatory Notes. New York, 1872. Multiple editions.
  • Catalogue of the Museum of Art and History in the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, 1976.
  • Giovanni Duprè. London, 1886.

Clark Hopkins. 1895–1976.

  • Christian Church at Dura-Europos. New Haven, 1934.            
  • The Excavations at Dura-Europos. Preliminary Reports. Sixth Season, 19321933. Co-editor, with M. I. Rostovtzeff, A. R. Bellinger, and C. B. Wells. New Haven, 1936.
  • Introduction to Classical Archaeology: Crete and Greece. Ann Arbor, 1950.
  • Topography and Architecture of Seleucia on the Tigris. Ann Arbor, 1972.
  • The Discovery of Dura-Europos. New Haven, 1979.

Elisha Jones. 1832–1888.

  • Exercises in Greek Prose Composition. Chicago, 1872. (With James Boise). Multiple editions.
  • First Lessons in Latin. Chicago, 1877. Multiple editions.
  • Exercises in Latin Prose Composition. Chicago, 1879.

Francis Willey Kelsey. 1858–1927.

  • T. Lucreti Cari de Rerum Natura libri sex. Boston, 1884.
  • An Outline of Greek and Roman Mythology. Boston, 1889.
  • An Outline of Roman Literature. Ann Arbor, 1890. Multiple editions.
  • Fifty Topics in Roman Antiquities. Boston, 1891.
  • P. Ovidii Nasonis Carmina Selecta. Boston, 1891.
  • Xenophon’s Anabasis Books IIV. Boston, 1892. (With A. C. Zenos). Multiple editions.
  • M. Tulli Ciceronis Orationes et Epistolae Selectae. Boston, 1892. Multiple.
  • C. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii Rerum Gestarum. Boston and Chicago, 1897.
  • C. Iulii Caesaries De Bello Gallico Libri VII. Boston and Chicago, 1897. Multiple editions.
  • Latin and Greek in American Education. New York, 1911. Multiple editions.
  • Excavations at Carthage 1925. New York, 1926.

John Garrett Winter. 1881–19??.

  • Myth of Hercules at Rome. New York: MacMillan, 1910.
  • The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno’s Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body enclosed by Process of Nature. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916.

 Other Early Teachers of Classics at Michigan

Listed below are the names of those who taught either in either the Departments of Greek or Latin (or in both) at the University of Michigan and who do not appear in the narrative above. After their names are given the dates when they taught at the University and the highest rank each achieved. (N.b. dates and titles below are as found in The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, vol. 2.).

  • Charles Kendall Adams. 1863–1867. Instructor of Latin and History.
  • Warren Everett Blake. 1925–. Professor of Greek.
  • Campbell Bonner. 1907–. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • Benjamin Braman. 1855–1856. Professor of the Latin Language and Literature.
  • Orma Fitch Butler. 1912–1920, 1921–1938. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Wilbert Lester Carr. 1923–1930. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Frank Copley. 1935–. Professor of Latin.
  • Herbert Fletcher de Cou. 1892–1895, 1899–1900. Instructor of Greek and Sanskrit.
  • Arthur Fairbanks. 1906–1907. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • Walter Dennison. 1897–1899, 1902–1910. Assistant Professor of Latin
  • Joseph Drake. 1888–1889, 1892–1907. Professor of Latin, Roman Law, and Jurisprudence.
  • Fred Sylvester Dunham. 1930–. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • James Eugene Dunlap. 1919–1920, 1923–. Professor of Latin and Greek.
  • Arthur Fairbanks. 1906–1907. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • Charles Mills Gayley. 1880–1886. Acting Professor of Latin.
  • James Penrose Hardland. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • Rev. Erastus Otis Haven. 1853–1854. Professor of Latin.
  • Clark Hopkins. 1935–. Associate Professor of Greek and Latin.
  • Elisha Jones. 1870–1872, 1875–1888. Professor of Latin.
  • Emory Bair Lease. 1896–1897. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin. 1886–1887. Instructor of Latin.
  • Clarence Linton Meader. 1893–1897, 1899–1932. Instructor of Latin.
  • Bruno Meinecke. 1920–1921, 1925–. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Benjamin Dean Merritt. 1928–1932. Associate Professor of Latin and Greek.
  • John Henry Muyskens. 1925–1932. Assistant Professor of Phonetics and Latin.
  • Roger Ambrose Pack. 1936–. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Frank Eggleston Robbins 1912–1921. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • John Carew Rolfe. 1890–1896, 1897–1902. Professor of Latin.
  • Henry Arthur Sanders. 1893–1897, 1899–1927, 1931–1938. Professor of Latin.
  • Burrit A. Smith. 1844–1846. Tutor of Latin and Greek.
  • Adam Knight Spence. 1858–1867. Assistant Professor of Greek, Latin, and French.
  • George Robert Swain. 1920–. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Emerson Howland Swift. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • Calvin Thomas. 1878–1879. Instructor of Latin and Sanskrit.
  • John Bradford Titchener. Assistant Professor of Greek.
  • William Henry Wait. 1895–1899, 1900–1901. Instructor of Greek.
  • Edward Lorraine Walter. 1868–1879. Assistant Professor of Latin.
  • Fitch Reed Williams. 1858–1859. Instructor of Latin.

 The Humanistic Series

(N.B. Some volumes contained more than one work.)

  • Amundsen, Leiv. 1935. Greek Ostraca in the University of Michigan Collection. Humanistic Series 34. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Boak, Arthur E. R. 1919. The Master of the Offices in the Later Roman and Byzantine Empires. Humanistic Series 14. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • -----------------------. and James E. Dunlap. 1924. Two Studies in Later Roman and Byzantine Administration. Humanistic Series 14. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • ----------------------- and Enoch E. Peterson. 1931. Karanis: Topographical and Architectural Report of Excavations during the Seasons 1924-28. Humanistic Series 25. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • -----------------------. 1933. Karanis, the Temples, Coin Hoards, Botanical and Zoological Reports, Seasons 1924-31. Humanistic Series 30. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • -----------------------. 1935. Soknopaion Nesos: the University of Michigan Excavations at Dime in 1931-32. Humanistic Series 39. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • -----------------------. 1933–44. Papyri from Tebtunis. Humanistic Series 28 & 29. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Bonner, Campbell. 1950. Studies in Magical Amulets, Chiefly Graeco-Egyptian. Humanistic Studies 49. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Butler, Orma F. 1908. Studies in the Life of Heliogabalus. Humanistic Studies 4. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Debevoise, Neilson C. 1934. Parthian Pottery from Seleucia on the Tigris. Humanistic Series 32. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Dennison, Walter. 1918. A Gold Treasure of the Late Roman Period. Humanistic Series 12. New York and London: The Macmillan Company.
  • ---------------------- and Charles R. Morey. 1918. Studies in East Christian and Roman Art. Humanistic Series 12. New York and London: The Macmillan Company.
  • D’Ooge, Martin Luther, Frank Egleston Robbins and Louis Charles Karpinski. 1926.Introduction to Arithmetic. Humanistic Series 16. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Elarth, Wilhelmina. 1939. Figurines from Seleucia on the Tigris, Discovered by the Expeditions Conducted by the University of Michigan with the Cooperation of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1927-32. Humanistic Series 45. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Evans, Alvin E. 1909. Roman Law Studies in Livy. Humanistic Studies 4. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Fairbanks, Arthur. 1907. Athenian Lekythoi with Outline Drawing in Glaze Varnish on a White Ground. Humanistic Series 6. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • ----------------------. 1914. Athenian Lekythoi. Humanistic Series 7. New York and London: The Macmillan Company.
  • Gottheil, Richard J. H. 1927. Fragments from the Cairo Genizah in the Freer Collection. Humanistic Series 13. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Harden, Donald B. 1936. Roman Glass from Karanis found by the University of Michigan Archaeological Expedition in Egypt, 1924-29. Humanistic Series 41. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Hoskier, Herman C. 1928. The Complete Commentary of Oecumenius on the Apocalypse. Humanistic Series 23. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Karpinski, Louis C. 1915. Robert of Chester’s Latin Translation of the Algebra of al-Khowarizmi. Humanistic Series 11. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • McDowell, Robert H. 1935. Coins from Seleucia on the Tigris. Humanistic Series 37. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • --------------------------. 1935. Stamped and Inscribed Objects from Seleucia on the Tigris. Humanistic Series 36. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Meader, Clarence Linton. 1910. Latin Philology. Humanistic Series 3. New York and London: The Macmillan Company.
  • Meritt, Benjamin D. 1932. Athenian Financial Documents of the Fifth Century. Humanistic Series 27. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press.
  • ------------------------ and Allen B. West. 1934. The Athenian Assessment of 425 B.C.Humanistic Series 33. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Morey, Charles R. 1914. East Christian Paintings in the Freer collection. Humanistic Series 12. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Patton, Carl S. 1915. Sources of the Synoptic Gospels. Humanistic Series 5. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Pearl, Orsamus M. 1944–51. Papyri and Ostraca from Karanis. Humanistic Series 47 & 50. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Sanders, Henry A. 1904. Roman Historical Sources and Institutions. Humanistic Series 1. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Sanders, Henry A. 1910. Facsimile of the Washington Manuscript of Deuteronomy and Joshua in the Freer Collection. Humanistic Series 8. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • ----------------------. 1910. Roman History and Mythology. Humanistic Series 4. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • ----------------------. 1918. The New Testament Manuscripts in the Freer Collection. Humanistic Series 9. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • ----------------------. 1927. Facsimile of the Washington Manuscript of the Minor Prophets in the Freer Collection and the Berlin fragment of Genesis. Humanistic Series 21. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • ----------------------. 1935. A Third-century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul. Humanistic Series 38. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • ----------------------. 1947. Latin Papyri in the University of Michigan Collection. Humanistic Series 48. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Shier, Louise A. 1942. Old Testament Texts on Vellum. The Sahidic Coptic Version of Ruth, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and Fragments of Genesis, Jeremiah, and Baruch. Humanistic Series 46. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Stanley, Albert A. 1924. Greek Themes in Modern Musical Settings. Humanistic Series 15. New York and London: The Macmillan Company.
  • Stewart, Manson A. 1910. A Study in Latin Abstract Substantives. Humanistic Series 3. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • Waterman, Leroy. 1930–36. Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire. Humanistic Studies 17 & 20. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Wilson, Lillian M. 1933. Ancient Textiles from Egypt in the University of Michigan Collection. Humanistic Series 31. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
  • Winter, John G. 1910. The Myth of Hercules at Rome. Humanistic Series 4. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • -------------------. 1916. The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno’s Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body enclosed by Process of Nature. Humanistic Series 11. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  • -------------------. 1936. Papyri in the University of Michigan Collection: Miscellaneous Papyri. Humanistic Series 40. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.
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Chad Matthew Schroeder, 2005

A History of Francis Willey Kelsey by Meilee D. Bridges

Francis Willey Kelsey (1858-1927)

Francis Willey Kelsey, for whom the Archaeological Museum at the University of Michigan is named, was born in Ogden, New York, on May 23, 1858. After graduating from the University of Rochester in 1880, he went on to study in Europe from 1883 to 1885. Kelsey received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1886 and became a professor of Latin at Lake Forest College from 1882 to 1889. In 1889, he became Professor of the Latin Language and Literature and assumed the chair previously held by Professor Henry Frieze at the University of Michigan. He was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Rochester in 1910.

Kelsey was respected by both his students and colleages as an educator, an innovator, an advisor, a writer, and an editor, and his accomplishments kept him at the forefront of his discipline. His Greek and Latin in American Education (1911) revealed him a champion of a sound classical education. His translations and commentaries on Caesar’s De bello gallico; Cicero’s Cato Maior de senectute, Laelius de amicitia, and Orationes et epistolae selectae; Lucretius’ De rerum natura; Ovid’s Carmina selecta; and Xenophon’s Anabasis (with Andrew C. Zenos) are still considered important resources even today. He translated August Mau’s Pompeii, Its Life and Art and was at work on a huge detailed study of Pompeii when he died in 1927. The many articles he contributed to scholarly and popular journals reflected his interests in education, classics, religion, and archaeology. From 1890 until his death, he was editor (with Professor Percy Gardner) of the Handbooks of Archaeology and Antiquities published by Macmillan; he edited with Professor Henry Sanders more than fifteen volumes in the Humanistic Series published by the University of Michigan.

Kelsey was active in many professional societies also reflecting his broad interests; these included the Schoolmaster’s Club, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Historical Association, the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, the Classical Association of Great Britain, and the Deutsches Archeologisches Institut. He was a corresponding member of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belle-Lettres of Paris. Kelsey served as President of the American Philological Association between 1906 and 1907 as well as President of the Archaeological Institute of America from 1907 to 1912. During his five-year tenure, the Institute launched new ventures, such as sponsorship of an expedition to Cyrene in 1910-1911. Kelsey was also instrumental in shaping policy for the schools of archaeology both here and abroad: he helped establish new schools in addition to maintaining a continued active interest in the management of those already in operation.

Kelsey’s interest in archaeology prompted him to organize five expeditions to the Near East for the University of Michigan from 1919 until his death. In 1920 Kelsey supervised a detailed survey of the battlefields of Julius Caesar in France and Belgium; he then went to Turkey where he explored Roman ruins and studied ancient manuscripts found there. Excavations at Pisidion-Antioch and Sizma in 1924 revealed ruins of a church where Paul may have preached as well as fine examples of Roman antiquities. He directed a 1925 expedition to Carthage, and excavations in Karanis revealed a typical Egyptian town in the Greco-Roman period.

Kelsey also made numerous and lasting contributions to the University of Michigan. His deep love of culminated in his service for many years as President of the Musical Society, and he was instrumental in developing the Choral Union Series, bringing renowned performers to campus, securing funds to build Hill Auditorium, and even acquiring the great organ that was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair, which was brought to Michigan as a memorial to Henry Frieze. Kelsey also actively participated in maintaining the aesthetic beauty of the Michigan campus, building and stocking the Pendleton Library, and soliciting benefactors to underwrite several scholarship and fellowship funds.

Kelsey sought to attract the best minds to the Latin Department and was tireless in his efforts to secure funds for scholarly projects that would enhance the reputation of the University. One of these projects was the Humanistic Series, which encouraged scholars to publish manuscripts that would stand as singular contributions to scholarship and win international recognition. The first volume of the Humanistic Series appeared in 1904. Philanthropist Charles Freer of Detroit, also impressed with Kelsey’s idea, chose the Humanistic Series as the medium to make available facsimiles of his manuscripts to scholars. Because of this collaboration with Kelsey, Freer left a bequest to the University in order to continue publication in connection with his collections even though they were already deeded to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Kelsey’s association with Charles Freer also brought to the University the Dattari Coin collection, an outstanding assortment consisting mainly of Egyptian coins dated from just before the founding of Alexandria to the middle of the fourth century A.D. Other coin collections came to the University through Kelsey, and it was his contacts through Freer which led to the acquisition of the great papyri collection.

Charles Freer and Thomas Spencer Jerome, an alumnus of the University of Michigan, were close friends. Although it is not clear how Kelsey became acquainted with either gentleman, Kelsey’s diaries reveal that he knew them well enough to have been invited to lunch at their villa in Capri, Italy, in 1901. After Jerome died in 1914, Kelsey went to Italy in 1915 to oversee Jerome’s estate, divide his library collection between the University of Michigan and the American Academy in Rome, and rescue his monumental manuscript on “Roman Morals”, which he was writing at the time of his death. This manuscript was to be published by G.P. Putnam.

Returning to America by ship, Kelsey met Dr. David Askren, a missionary and physician, then working in the Fayoum district of Egypt; through him, Kelsey heard of the existence of rare papyri. Appointing Askren an agent for the University and working through Maurice Nahman, an Egyptian dealer in antiquities to whom Freer had introduced him, Kelsey was able to secure a number of rare and valuable papyri in 1920. These were divided between the University of Wisconsin and Michigan; however, Michigan’s collection is considered even today to be the finest in the Western hemisphere.

As a further word regarding Kelsey, Jerome, and Freer, Kelsey assigned to Professor John Winter of the University of Michigan the task of preparing Jerome’s manuscript for publication. Working from Jerome’s unfinished manuscript and detailed notes, Aspects of the Study of Roman History was finally published in 1923. Kelsey’s advice was instrumental in carrying out Jerome’s directive to the University to “further historical research” by establishing the Jerome Lectureship at the University and the American Academy in Rome. The Jerome Lectures bring outstanding classical scholars to Ann Arbor and Rome biannually to deliver a series of talks. Winter was selected to present the first Jerome Lecture..

Kelsey’s humanitarianism led him to assist other poor scholars as well by quietly asking benefactors for anonymous assistance to them. His efforts also crossed nationalistic lines. German colleagues acknowledged Kelsey’s efforts in securing private contributions after the war to continue their work on the great Latin Thesaurus. He aided in the work of the Near East Relief Committee after the Armenian Massacre: he was Secretary in the State of Michigan for the Belgium Relief Committee, whose mission was to feed and clothe the children in Belgium after World War I.

Kelsey also was an active participant in his church and a dedicated family man. He married Isabel Badger in 1886 and had two daughters and one son. He returned to Ann Arbor after the 1926 expedition in poor health, yet he managed to keep up his correspondence until he died on May 14, 1927. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Ann Arbor.

Francis Kelsey left behind a remarkable series of contributions to the academic world in general and the University of Michigan in particular. His papers are an accurate reflection of those contributions and his many interests.


Report by Meilee D. Bridges

CFC Graduate Research Assistant

Summer 2002

The Greek U-M Campus

A website that documents the many different pieces of art and architecture as well as the institutions and organizations on the U-M Ann Arbor campus that have been influenced by the Greek world. Use it as you find yourself at different locations around the University, or design your own Greek tour of the Michigan campus using the maps provided. The Greek U-M Campus.