North American Scholar

CROGMAN, William Henry

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1841-05-05
  • Born City: Phillipsburg
  • Born State/Country: St. Martin Island, Danish West Indies
  • Parents: William and Charlotte Chippendale C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1931-08-16
  • Death City: Kansas City
  • Death State/Country: MO
  • Married: Lavinia C. Mott (1855-1931), 10 July 1878, Charlotte, NC.
  • Education:

    Pierce Academy, Middleboro, MA, 1868; A.B., Atlanta University, GA, 1876; A.M. Atlanta, University, 1879; Litt.D., Atlanta University, 1901.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instructor of English, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC, 1870-1873; prof. of Greek and Latin, Clark University, 1876-1879; chair of Greek and Latin, Clark University, 1880; acting president, 1903-1904; president 1904-1910; Secretary, Board of Trustees, Clark University, 1885-1992; member of the American Philological Association, 1898-1930; one of the founders of the American Negro Academy.

  • Publications:

    Talks for the Times (Atlanta: Franklin Printing, 1896); second edition, (Cincinnati: Jennings & Pye, 1896); Progress of a Race, with Henry F. Kletzing (Atlanta: J. L. Nichols,1897) revised and enlarged several times thereafter.

  • Notes:

    Orphaned in his early teens, Crogman spent over a decade sailing around the world with the seaman and first mate B. L. Boomer and later with his brother Captain Boomer. In 1866 Crogman began saving to go to school and in 1868 with the Boomer family’s approval he enrolled in the Pierce Academy in Middleboro, MA. Crogman, a mature 21, impressed the school’s principal, J.W.P. Jenks (1819-1894), by his eagerness to study and Jenks observed that Crogman did in one semester what another student did in two. Crogman finished his work at Pierce in two years and in 1870 he was hired to teach English at Claflin University. But after three years, his interest in studying classical languages, caused him to enroll at Atlanta University where he finished the four-year classical course in three years. During this period he met his future wife and after marrying her accepted a position teaching Greek and Latin at Clark University, a Methodist supported school in Atlanta. After more than 4 decades of service he retired in 1921 at the age of 80 and received a Carnegie teacher’s pension. He had been active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and was its first African-American secretary. In 1895 as one of  Georgia’s commissioners for the Cotton States Exposition, he helped design the so-called Negro exhibit which included not only agricultural products but also displays of school and university work. In 1897 he helped establish the American Negro Academy in Washington, DC. Throughout his life Professor Crogman was a tireless supporter of liberal arts training for students of African descent and he frequently used classical references in his public addresses to drive his point home as he did at Henry Ward Beecher’s Plymouth Church in 1883 when he declared that “America, like the Carthaginian queen must hasten to say to the different races now crowding her shores, “Tros, Tyriusque, mihi nullo discrimine agetur.”

  • Sources:

    NatCAB, 367; Michele Valerie Ronnick, “William Henry Crogman, 1841-1931,” CO 77 (2000) 67-8; Georges A. Towns, “William Henry Crogman,” Journal of Negro History 19 (April, 1934) 213-17.

  • Author: Michele Valerie Ronnick