North American Scholar

LIPSCOMB, Herbert Cannon

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1882-09-17
  • Born City: Salisbury
  • Born State/Country: MD
  • Parents: Dr. Bernard F., a Methodist minister, & Sallie Wright L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1973-10-09
  • Death City: Ashland
  • Death State/Country: VA
  • Education:

    A.B. Randolph-Macon Coll., 1901; A.M., 1902; D.Litt., 1941; Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1907.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Lat. Randolph-Macon Coll., 1900-2; Randolph-Macon Academy (Bedford, VA), 1902-4; Lat. master Gilman Country Sch. (Baltimore), 1907-9; prof. Lat. Randolph-Macon Woman's Coll., 1909-55.

  • Dissertation:

    "Aspects of the Speech in the Later Roman Epic" (Johns Hopkins, 1907); printed (Baltimore, 1909)

  • Notes:

    Herbert C. Lipscomb must be considered among the great teachers of any subject. He attracted students by the score and produced some 500 Latin majors in his 44-year career at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, an institution which in his day enrolled fewer than 600 students. There were in addition many of his Latin students who concentrated in Greek, also very popular at the College under Mabel K. Whiteside. Few students of his era did not take at least one course with him. His classes were a liberal education in themselves. Although the subject was usually Latin literature, his discourses ranged over the whole of Western experience in literature, art, philosophy, music, and science. His students were a quality product, much in demand, and many of them, as teachers of Latin, populated the classrooms of secondary schools in a wide area, chiefly in the Southeast. Many did other things, however, in various fields, or concentrated on home and motherhood, which he incidentally considered no waste. Their versatility is attested in the careers of numbers who came back to serve their alma mater successfully in a multitude of ways, as teachers not only of Latin and Greek, but English, French, mathematics, and dance, and as librarians, administrators, and trustees.His students frankly and admittedly were in love with him and it is small wonder. Apart from his being a Southern gentleman of great charm and poise, a towering figure both physically and intellectually, and more than passably handsome, he manifested the deepest interest in them, their ambitions and their careers, an interest which did not stop at their graduation. A bachelor, he always maintained a dignified distance without ever being aloof. He addressed his students as "Miss Jones" or "Miss Smith," which changed at some magic time in their college careers to "Miss Mary" or "Miss Catherine." Devoted alumnae fifty or more years after the fact recall vividly, and with dewy eyes, the moment of their having thus arrived! Whatever their interest in the classics, professional or casual, they readily acknowledge that in truth they majored in Dr. Lipscomb. A witness of the kind of lasting influence and inspiration he has been is the fact that, although he retired in 1955, one of his former students was in 1993 an active candidate for the Ph.D. in classics at a leading university.

  • Sources:

    CW 67 (1973-4) 188-9; Lynchburg News (10 Oct. 1973); R-MWC Alumnae Bulletin 52,4 (1959) 1-8; 67,2 (1974) 8-11.

  • Author: Robert B. Lloyd