North American Scholar

HENDERSON, Charles, Jr.

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1923-08-22
  • Born City: Lynchburg
  • Born State/Country: VA
  • Parents: Charles and Rosalie Florance H.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2015-04-19
  • Death City: York Harbor
  • Death State/Country: ME
  • Married: Ethel Ann Bolton, 16 August 1944 (divorced)
  • Education:

    A.B., Davidson College, 1942; M.A. U. of North Carolina, 1947; Ph.D., 1955.

  • Professional Experience:

    Teaching fellow, U. of North Carolina, 1942, 1946-9; instr. Classics, New York University, 1950-55; instructor Classics, U. North Carolina, 1955-64; as prof., 1958-64; dean, student affairs, 1960-63; prof. Classics, Smith College, 1964-86; chair, dept., 1967-74; asst. to Pres., 1972-77; secretary-treasurer. APA, 1962-65.

     
  • Dissertation:

    "A Lexicon of the Stylistic Terms Used in Roman Literary Criticism" (UNC, 1955)

  • Publications:

    "Cato's Pine Cones and Seneca's Plums. Fronto p. 149 vdH.," TAPA 86 (1955) 256-267; "The Career of the Younger M. Aemilius Scaurus," CJ 53 (1958) 194-206; Classical, Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies in Honor of B. L. Ullman, 2 vols. (ed.)  (Rome: Ed. di Storia e Letteratura, 1964); Latin for Americans, Books 1 & 2 (with B.L. Ullman & N.E. Henry) 4th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1962); "Quorum Pars Parva Fui," TAPA 131 (2001) 353-62.

  • Notes:

    Charles Henderson, Jr., was born in Lynchburg, VA, but raised in Charlottesville. He attended the University of Virginia, but ultimately graduated from Davidson. In the December following his graduation he enlisted in the Navy and rose to lieutenant (promoted to lieutenant commander in the Reserve after the war) and served aboard the Buckley-class destroyer escort U.S.S. Manning. Following the war he enrolled at the University of North Carolina where he received his M.A. in one year, working under his mentor, B.L. Ullman. He remained as a graduate student and teaching fellow while completing the coursework for his doctorate, but in late 1948, the university administration imposed a loyalty oath on graduate students in hopes of forestalling a stricter oath with harsher penalties that might come from the trustees or the legislature. The oath was aimed at a prominently Communist teaching assistant in the Romance Languages Department. He and Henderson were the only two graduate students in the University who refused to sign. Henderson was kept on for 1949-50, but his stipend was cut and he was only allowed to grade correspondence coursework. In the meantime the Navy promoted him and he found a job at Washington Square College at NYU, where he was able to complete his three-volume, 903-pagedissertation (surely a record and one that graduate students should not be encouraged to break). With Ullman's enthusiastic support, Henderson was hired to a permanent position at UNC, where he became a generous adviser to graduate students and an effective teacher who instilled great affection in his undergraduates. He proved to be an able administrator, but he was never a prolific publisher. He is perhaps best known for his 1962 revision of Ullman and Norman E. Henry's high-school textbook series,  Latin for Americans, a series begun in 1941 and still in print and in use, updated for the twenty-first century, at the time of his death. He decamped for Smith in 1964, where he spent more than two decades as a beloved teacher, nurturing classics students and encouraging the best of them to pursue graduate studies in Chapel Hill, which many of them did. He spent his retirement maintaining a small farm alone in York Harbor, Maine, a job that would tax a man half his age. In his late seventies he wrote an article in which he described his own struggles with the loyalty oath along with those of other classicists caught up in the McCarthy era: Harold Cherniss, Ludwig Edelstein, Moses Finley, G.M.A. Grube, Bernard Knox, Naphtali Lewis, Brooks Otis, Bill Willis, and otherts. Though he wrote of his pride in being associated with such a group of notables, he averred that he was one of its lesser lights.  

  • Sources:

    WhAm; DAS 8,3 (1982) 227; "Quorum Pars Parva Fui," TAPA 131 (2001) 353-62

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.