Below you will find a list and biographies of some of Bryn Mawr's most esteemed Classics alumnae, many of which have been penned by former students of the program.
Winifred Warren, Ph.D. 1897
The year 1997 marked the 100th anniversary of the American Philological Association's meeting held at Bryn Mawr. The Philadelphia Public Ledger of Thursday morning, July 8, 1897, proclaimed: "American Philologists: Interesting Papers Read at the Meetings Yesterday, Considerable Discussion Provoked." July 7, 1897, was apparently particularly sweltering by Philly's standards, but "notwithstanding the heat, the morning session" of the meeting was well-attended, with "some fifty members being present." At this meeting, the 29th annual session, Bryn Mawr professor Herbert Weir Smyth presented "The Study of Conjunctional Temporal Clauses in Thukydides," from the Bryn Mawr Ph.D. dissertation of Winifred Warren.
Warren, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 3, 1870, attended public school in Cambridge, and received her bachelor's degree from Boston University in 1891. In 1893-94, she was a Fellow in Latin at Bryn Mawr, and in June 1894 received her MA from Boston University. Warren then continued her studies in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit at Bryn Mawr, until the summer of 1896, when she was awarded a Mary E. Garrett European Fellowship. She spent the next year studying at the Universities of Munich and Berlin, where she attended the lectures of Diels and Wilamowitz (among others). Although not mentioned by the Public Ledger, it is quite significant to note that Warren was the first woman ever to have her paper presented at an APA convention.
From 1897-1902, she was an instructor of Latin at Vassar College, during which time she published two articles on the reception of Thucydides: "The Structure of Dionysii Halicarnasei de Thucydidis Idiomatis Epistula," in AJP 20 (1899), and "On Dionysii Halicarnasei Idiomatis Epistula", in CR 16 (1902). When she married George Arthur Wilson, head of the philosophy department at Syracuse University, she stopped teaching, but continued to publish. Her articles from this period include: "The Soma Offering in a Fragment of Alkman", AJP 30 (1909); "Jason as "Dolomedes", CR 24 (1910); and "The Partheneion of Alkman" in AJP 33 (1912). From 1918-30, she served as secretary of the American Board of Directors at the Isabella Thoburn College in Lucknow, India, and as corresponding secretary of the New York branch of the Women's Foreign Missionary Society. From 1944-53, she volunteered for the Red Cross. Warren died in 1958.
—Deborah Kamen '98
Emily Greene Balch, A.B. 1889
With practical experience in settlement house work and the academic background of research on public assistance in France, Emily Balch taught economics at Wellesley, and was an early supporter of strikers and an outspoken critic of racial discrimination and class exploitation. Her major work, Our Slavic Fellow Citizens, countered the nativist assumptions of her society. At the time of WWI, she became active in international pacifist affairs and was linked, in newspaper accounts, with the socialist-Bolshevist wing of pacifist activities.
In 1919, the Wellesley Trustees voted not to renew her appointment. She continued in peace work and was involved with the founding of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. A tireless writer, traveler, and organizer, she "had a talent for making diverse individuals and groups cooperate in the cause of peace. "However, because of her concern about Hitler's domination of Europe and the treatment of the Jews, she chose "the lesser of two evils" after Pearl Harbour and supported the war effort. She did not resign from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and her Nobel Prize recognized that organization's contribution as well as her individual leadership
—from Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (Winter 1981), adapted from Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green (edd.), Notable American Women: The Modern Period (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University. Press, 1980)
Edith Hamilton, A.B. 1894, Greek and Latin
More to her liking was her life in New York, where she made literary and theatrical friends. The publication of The Greek Way in 1930 brought acclaim, but there was some criticism from scholars about translation and interpretation. Edith Hamilton did not claim to be a scholar; her commitment was to the unverifiable "truths of the spirit" she found in ancient writers.
In Judith P. Hallett's biography of the author, she presents a detailed account of Edith Hamilton's life and influence showing that two of her most passionate devotees were Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and Robert F. Kennedy. See further Judith P. Hallett, "Edith Hamilton (1867-1963)", in W.M. Calder III and J.P. Hallett (edd.) Six North American Women Classicists = Classical World 90.2-3 (1996/1997) 107-147.
—from Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (Winter 1981), adapted from Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green (edd.), Notable American Women: The Modern Period (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980).
Hetty Goldman, A.B. 1903, Greek and English, pioneering archaeologist
In the 1920s, she supervised the Colophon site in Ionia for the Fogg Museum: "Villagers in the '50s still remembered with awe the energetic woman who ran the project." She was one of the pioneers in the investigation of pre-Greek and earliest Greek peoples and continued to supervise major excavations until WW II. During the War she went to Princeton, NJ, where she became the first woman professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1966 she received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Archaeology for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement.
—from Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (Winter 1981), adapted from Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green (edd.), Notable American Women: The Modern Period (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1980).
Mariam Coffin Canaday, A.B. 1906, Latin & English, influential patron of archaeology and Classical Studies
After graduation from Bryn Mawr, Mariam went on to teach Latin and English in a Newark, New Jersey preparatory school for five years. During this time she married Ward Canaday who was chairman of the board of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Even though Mariam had no formal training in archaeology, she had a true interest in the subject, and was widely read in it. This interest eventually led to the Canadays' support and influence in the excavation and restoration of the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos in the agora of Athens during the 1950s. The Stoa is now a museum housing artifacts discovered by the American School of Classical Studies. Mariam and Ward Canaday were personal representatives of President Eisenhower and the guests of King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece at the dedication of the museum in 1953.
Returning to her native state, Mariam organized the Toledo chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America during the 1950s. Previously, during World War II, Mariam worked for the Greek War Relief, which was the Toledo chapter of "Bundles for Britain". Mariam and her husband also helped to expand the Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Department at Bryn Mawr, and contributed the funds to the library which now bears her name. Mariam Coffin Canaday died on 22 December 1974, but her contributions to the Classics and Archaeology world are forever immortalized at Bryn Mawr College.
- Jennifer Furia '99
Phyllis Goodhart Gordan, A.B. 1935, Latin
As an undergraduate the young Phyllis Goodhart majored in Latin, studying with some of my most eminent predecessors in the department, including Bob Broughton, Lily Ross Taylor, Berthe Marti, and a very young Agnes Kirsopp Michels (Nan Michels), then Agnes Lake. (Nan graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1930, and took her Ph.D. in 1934. Berthe Marti was a few years older, but, like Nan, she was a graduate student during most of Phyllis's undergraduate career.)
Two of Phyllis's undergraduate papers are preserved in the Archives. One is her senior essay, titled "The Classical Background of St. Augustine's Reading as Shown in the De civitate dei." (I think she must have written it for Nan Michels—Berthe Marti would have been the obvious candidate, but she is not listed in the College Calendar for '34 or '35.) This paper, nearly 90 pages long, lives up to its title, for Phyllis has traced and followed to its source every classical reference in Augustine's great work, using the testimony of Augustine's Confessions as evidence for his intellectual background and education.
Phyllis's comment that "Augustine presents a very pleasant field for exploration since the background of De civitate dei is confined to the Bible and Latin literature," is quite amusing. The young Phyllis Goodhart was already a serious student and researcher, but I think I detect a note of honest relief that she wasn't going to have to survey the whole of Greek, as well as Latin, literature for Augustine's sources.
Her other undergraduate paper is titled "Written by the Hand of Poggio." Phyllis wrote it in her junior year for Lily Ross Taylor, who had encouraged her to work on the rediscovery of lost classical texts. Miss Taylor was a famous and charismatic teacher, but probably none of her assignments ever had a greater impact on the life of one of her students. Phyllis' paper on Augustine is thorough and dutiful, but the one on Poggio is a labor of love. The paper is 22 single-spaced pages, and includes in its bibliography not only several works of Poggio, especially his letters, but also various works of intellectual history in French and German, as well as in English. (I might note that we see a similar level of attainment in the Augustine paper, for it is clear that she read all of the City of God and the Confessions in Latin, and then studied all of Augustine's classical allusions and their contexts in the Latin sources.) This is the kind of work that one might expect from a good Bryn Mawr student 60 years ago.
After graduating from Bryn Mawr, she went to Harvard to study Greek palaeography with Nan Michels' father, Kirsopp Lake, as she records in a wonderful article for the Alumnae Bulletin of January 1939. Its title, appropriately enough, is "Manuscript Hunters." In 1936, after her first year at Radcliffe, she and her Bryn Mawr classmate Helen Ripley traveled abroad seeking material for Kirsopp Lake's book, Dated Greek Minuscule Manuscripts. The highpoint of their summer was a week spent in Cheltenham studying the famous manuscript collection of Sir Thomas Phillips under the not very watchful eye of his 80-year-old grandson, T. Fitzroy Fenwick. Although everyone had told them that they would never be admitted, they somehow managed it. Mr. Fenwick discouraged visitors by charging them a pound a day to see the collection, but as Phyllis relates: "He refused to charge us anything, because he had never before had two American college girls come to study his Greek manuscripts."
Phyllis took her M.A. at Radcliffe in 1938 and married John Gordan in the same year. Between 1942 and 1950 she produced four children. The College News for April 1953 reports that Phyllis visited Bryn Mawr to give a lecture titled, "How Latin Can Be Fun." The student reporters, though obviously unconvinced, nevertheless gave the event detailed coverage. They report that "with a microfilm reader set up beside the babies' playpen she combined her hobby of reading Latin documents from the Renaissance with entertaining her children."
In these years, and indeed for the rest of her life, Phyllis devoted as much time and energy to fostering the scholarship of others as she did to her own. In 1951 she became one of the seven founding members The Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Library; and in the same year she became the first woman trustee of the American Academy in Rome. She was a trustee of the College, of the New York Public Library, of the Renaissance Society, and of the American Philological Association. Among her innumerable gifts to Bryn Mawr scholars I can note only three: the reference room in Canaday, our first microfilm reader, and Mario Cosenza's invaluable Biographical Dictionary of Italian Humanists.
At last, in 1974, 40 years after her fateful undergraduate paper for Lily Ross Taylor, Phyllis brought the first part of her Poggio project to fruition, publishing 108 of Poggio's letters in an elegant annotated translation entitled: Two Renaissance Book Hunters: The Letters of Poggius Bracciolini to Nicolaus de Niccolis. She planned to publish the rest in subsequent volumes, but, alas, that goal was never realized. Yet her work is not lost. She has left us her Poggio notes and papers with the relevant microfilms and library in the hope that someone else might take up the task. Completing the publication of Poggio's correspondence will be no easy project (for something like 450 letters remain); but whoever undertakes it will be immeasurably assisted by the resources of the Gordan collection and above all by the meticulous work of Phyllis herself, a woman who knew better than most, "Of What Use are Old Books."
—adapted by Welby E. Lynn '98 from a lecture given by Julia Gaisser, Professor of Latin at Bryn Mawr
Wendy Watson, A.B. 1964, Latin, author and illustrator of children's books
Wendy has also illustrated 11 books written by her sister, Clyde Watson, and has even illustrated The Birthday Goat, and Muncus Agruncus, written by her mother, Nancy Dingman Watson.
Wendy comes from a family of professional artists and authors that extends back several generations. She was trained at home by her parents, while being raised as the eldest of eight children on a farm in Vermont. She says of the illustrations and poetry in Father Fox's Pennyrhymes, "Its inspiration has been our childhood at home on the farm in Vermont—the seasons and the work that goes with each, the buildings, the countryside—and the atmosphere and fun of our own family. Many foxes wear garments that still hang in the closets in Putney; and special family occupations and times of year and occasions are in almost every poem and picture."
Watson has illustrated more than 70 books and won numerous awards since 1966 when she became a free-lance writer and illustrator. She has written and illustrated 20 books of her own, including Frog Went A-Courting and Has Winter Come? The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books wrote of her artwork in Catch Me & Kiss Me & Say It Again, "Bright watercolor pictures of round-eyed chubby children have a cheerful zest that matches the robust and lifting swing of the rhymes." Besides books, Wendy has also designed a series of greeting cards and postcards for Bryn Mawr College with delightful scenes of cats. She still visits and lectures at Bryn Mawr from time to time, and her visits are much appreciated by the College staff and student body.