DATABASE OF CLASSICAL SCHOLARS

Ward Briggs
With the Cooperation and Support of
The Center for Digital Humanities
University of South Carolina
The School of Arts & Sciences and Department of Classics, Rutgers University
and
the Endorsement of
the Society for Classical Studies

The Database of Classical Scholars is a multi-faceted database that aims to provide biographical and bibliographical information on classical scholars from the period associated with classical scholarship as currently understood, from the end of the eighteenth century and the publication of F.A. Wolf's Prolegomena zu Homer (1795) to the current day. Each entry is accompanied by an appreciation of the scholar's career by an expert and where possible, a portrait. This is a work of international cooperation with an advisory committee composed of experts in the history of classical scholarship not only in North America, but in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.

The editorial Committee consists of :

  • Ward Briggs, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Corey Brennan, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Lee Pearcy, Philadelphia, PA
  • Michele Ronnick, Detroit, MI
  • Christopher Stray, Swansea, Wales
  • Graham Whitaker, Glasgow

There have been several attempts to provide a comprehensive history of Classical Scholarship. They range from the lists of classicists compiled by W. Pökel for his Philologisches Schriftstellerlexikon (Leipzig 1882) to Sir J.E. Sandys' monumental three-volume History of Classical Scholarship (Cambridge, 1903-8) to Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf's Geschichte der Philologie (Leipzig, 1921) to Alfred Gudeman's Outlines of the History of Classical Scholarship (3rd ed., Boston, 1897). In late years Briggs's A Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists (1994) was the first attempt to bring together biographical data on a significant number of classicists from Canada and the United States.

The database is fully searchable on all fields: Name, Birth, Marriage, Education, Professional Experience, Death, Dissertation Title, Publications, Festschriften, Kleine Schriften, Biographical Sources, and the Author of the appreciation. One can readily find all classicists in the database who received degrees at the University of Chicago or taught at the University of Virginia, or were born on November 26. Software has been developed by USC's Center for Digital Humanities and will be continually refined at the new home of the Database, Rutgers University.

In its initial stages, the Database will draw on five ready resources of data.

Stage 1: The importation of data for the 600 classicists catalogued in Ward Briggs's Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists (1994). The book has been optically scanned and the entries arranged in a common format. Moreover entries for 57 classicists who have died since publication of the BDNAC are included, drawing from memorial notices in bulletins of the APA, CAAS and CAMWS. Portraits of a large number of the subjects (not a feature of the original publication) have been added.

Stage 2: Video clips provided to the SCS by the Classics Conclave will be mounted on our site and links posted on the SCS website. These interviews, conducted in 2012 with distinguished classicists from North America and the United Kingdom form the germ of what is hoped to be a succession of oral histories with distinguished members of the profession. A new series of interviews commenced in spring 2017.

Stage 3: The introduction of a Wiki database for living classicists. The last work that contained significant biographical information as well as areas of scholarly interest was the fourth edition of The Directory of College and University Classicists in the United States and Canada edited by Lawrence E. Gaichas for the Classical Association of the Atlantic States in 1996. This was an invaluable source for looking up addresses, specialties, and credentials of living classicists and it is our aim to provide something like this with our Wiki database which will have the advantage of being as fully searchable as the data on deceased classicists. We have created a template in Microsoft Word that can easily be filled out with the same kinds of information we present for deceased classicists. We shall send these templates to every member of the SCS and make the template downloadable on the SCS website so that members and non-members can list themselves in this section of the database.

Stage 4: The library at Columbia University is home to the archive of Alfred Gudeman, born in Atlanta in 1862, a graduate of Columbia and the first American to receive a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Berlin, he taught at Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University before emigrating to Germany in 1904. Gudeman was an energetic proponent of German scholarship and wrote A Manual of the History of Classical Philology that ran to eight editions in two different languages. Gudeman's most pertinent work for our purposes is his Imagines Philologorum (1911), a quarto-sized volume containing portraits and biographical information of 160 classical scholars beginning with Erasmus and running through the late nineteenth century. Gudeman continued to amass portraits and data on the scholars until the Nazis forced him and his family to be shipped to the Theresienstadt camp where he died in 1942. Before departing Berlin he entrusted his materials to his attorney with instructions to send them to the Columbia Library should anything happen to him. The materials, comprising six large envelopes of illustrative material (photographs, etchings and various types of reproductions) and biographical data for 560 classical scholars arrived at Columbia in 1952 where they remained unexamined until 1990 (Donna W. Hurley, "Alfred Gudeman, Atlanta, Georgia, 1862-Theresienstadt, 1942," TAPhA 120 (1990) 355-81 and Donna W. Hurley, "Alfred Gudeman in Berlin 1935-1942," Latein und Griechisch in Berlin 35 (1991) 121-7) . We hope to employ graduate students to go through the archive and put the biographical data and portraits from both the Imagines material and the final, 497-page unpublished manuscript of his Manual into the form that will be usable by our database.

Stage 5: The Catalogus Philologorum Classicorum is superintended by Prof. Franco Montanari at the University of Genoa. Initiated at a CNR conference in 1984 the project collects biographical data and to this point has chiefly been useful in gathering the names of nearly 9000 classicists worldwide. It has been online since 2003 within the website Aristarchus. To date, while the project has identified 8831 classicists and posted "cards" with name, date of birth and date of death for most of them on their website (http://www.aristarchus.unige.it/cphcl/schede.php), only 889 have any further information, usually necrologies from journals or newspapers posted as unsearchable PDF files. The accessible files are of no consistent format and cannot be searched against all the entries. Professor Montanari has agreed to be an advisory editor and to share his data with our project. We would thus need clerks to enter data from the accessible cards on the CPC website onto our template and add them to our database.

Stage 6: Robert B. Todd's three-volume Dictionary of British Classicists (Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2004) is a British counterpart to BDNAC: It contains biographies with publication information for approximately 700 British classicists from 1500 to 1960 CE. The work contains a great deal of data that would be useful for our project, but unlike the BDNAC, all the entries are written in continuous prose. We therefore need clerks to extract the information required by our template and enter it into our database. As with the BDNAC, there are no portraits of the subjects.