All Scholars

CAVERNO, Julia Harwood

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  • Date of Birth: December 19, 1862
  • Born City: Milwaukee
  • Born State/Country: WI
  • Parents: Charles & Abbie H Smith C.
  • Date of Death: February 04, 1949
  • Death City: Northampton
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Education:

    AB Smith, 1887; AM, 1890

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr Lat & Gk Grant Collegiate Inst (Chicago) 1887-93; instr to prof Gk Smith, 1893-1931; head Gk dept, 1912-31; ed with J E Brady Smith College Classical Studies, 1920-31; mng comm ASCSA, 1914-37; pres CANE, 1926-7

  • Publications:

    “The Figures of Homer,” Andover Review 17 (1892) 146-67; “Shall Teachers Teach?”, Independent, Education Number (Fall 1894); “Chivalry for Girls,” Outlook 51 (23 Mar 1895) 473; “What It Costs to Send a Girl through College,” with MA Frost, Outlook 59 (7 May 1898) 82-3; “How Can the Colleges and High Schools Cooperate to Stimulate an Interest in the Study of Greek?”, CJ 3 (1907-8) 277-82; “The Messenger in Greek Tragedy,” CJ 12 (1916-7) 263-70; “Music for Two Greek Plays,” Smith Alumnae Quarterly 16 (1925) 203; “The Septuagint,” in Margaret B Crook et al, The Bible and Its Literary Associations (New York, 1937) 87-99

  • Notes:

    Julia Harwood Caverno taught Greek language and literature at Smith College until her retirement as John M. Greene Professor in 1931. She published little of a scholarly nature but taught much, all in the spirit of her beloved Greek predecessors. As her colleague Agnes Vaughn put it, “To the College and to the alumnae Miss Caverno left a message: 'Smith College has a soul. . . . Souls need care. But there it is and there it will be long after we are gone.' “In this message the spirit of Plato speaks out loud and clear. How effectively Miss Caverno worked upon the souls around her is apparent from the words which President Neilson addressed to her on the occasion of her retirement. Singling her out from the other retirees, President Neil-son said of her at last chapel, “Miss Caverno has touched the life of the college at so many points and so vitally that she has become a part of our whole organism in a very special way. ... I am thinking especially of her presence in the councils of the faculty and her immediate relations with the administration. ... No member of the faculty did more to guide my faltering footsteps when I was new here. No member added so much to the gaiety and wisdom of faculty councils as Miss Caverno.”Miss Caverno was herself a member of Smith's ninth class, earning her A.M. with a thesis on Homer's similes as compared with those of Virgil, Dante, Milton, and Tennyson. Appointed to the Smith faculty in 1893, she showed in “Shall Teachers Teach?” her determination to devote the best of her energy to her students rather than to the scholarly public. Active in the Alumnae Association, she kept contact with the souls in her charge for the rest of her life. In 1905 she was the only woman chosen to sit on the founding committee of CANE. Clearly her greatest contribution was her teaching. What that must have been like can be guessed from the grace, clarity, and profound learning of her article on the messenger in Greek tragedy and her chapter on the Septuagint. It is no wonder that on her retirement her former students presented her with a generous fund for the establishment of the Julia Harwood Caverno Prize “to be awarded annually to a student for excellence in Greek,” or that the classics study in Smith's Neilson Library is known as the Caverno Room

  • Sources:

    George Edwin Howes, The Classical Association of New England: A Brief Account of Its Origin and Its Important Activities for the First Twenty Years (np, 1926); NYTimes (5 Feb 1949) 15; Sch & Soc 69 (12 Feb 1949) 113; Smith Coll Archives; Prof Agnes Carr Vaughn, Smith Coll Alum Q (May 1949) 158; WomWWA 168

  • Author: George E. Dimock