North American Scholar

SWEET, Waldo Earle

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1912-04-26
  • Born City: Hartford
  • Born State/Country: CT
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1992-09-15
  • Death City: Ann Arbor
  • Death State/Country: MI
  • Married: Elizabeth Osborne Smith, 6 Nov. 1943.
  • Education:

    A.B. Amherst, 1934; M.A. Columbia, 1935; A.M. (Westcott Fell.) Princeton, 1943; Ph.D., 1943.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr. Eaglebrook Sch. (Deerfield, MA), 1935-7; Millbrook (NY) Sch., 1937-40; Phillips Andover (MA) Acad., 1942-3; William Penn Charter Sch. (Philadelphia), 1946-53; asso. prof, to prof. Lat. & teaching of Lat. U. Michigan, 1953-82; dir. Carnegie Corp. Lat. Workshop, summ. 1952-3; mem. vis. fac. State U. Iowa, summ. 1951; U. Wash., summ. 1961; Rockefeller grant, 1950, 1951.

  • Dissertation:

    "Demetrius Poliorcetes: A Study in Literary Sources" (Princeton, 1943).

  • Publications:

    Latin Workshop, Experimental Materials, Book One (Ann Arbor, 1953); Book Two (Ann Arbor, 1954; rev. ed. 1956); Plautus Mostellaria ("The Haunted House"), with Laura B. Voelkel (priv. pr., 1953); Latin: A Structural Approach (Ann Arbor, 1957; rev. ed. with Ruth S. Craig & G.M. Seligson, 1966); Vergil: A Structural Approach (Ann Arbor, 1960); Clozes and Vocabulary Exercises for Books I and II of the Aeneid (Ann Arbor, 1961); Sound Recording for Latin: A Structural Approach (Ann Arbor, 1966); Artes Latinae, Level I, with Judith B. Moore & Rev. Joseph Rafacz (Chicago, 1966-71); Level Two, Book One (Chicago, 1968); Lectiones Pritnae: A Graded Reader (Chicago, 1968); Lectiones Secundae: A Graded Reader (Chicago, 1970); Sound Recording for Artes Latinae (Guilford, CT, 1980); A Course on Words, with Glenn Knudsvig (New York, 1982; rev. ed. Ann Arbor, 1989); Vergil's Aeneid: Books I and II (Chicago, 1983); Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook with Translations (New York, 1987).

  • Notes:

    Waldo Sweet's name was associated with the reform movement in the teaching of Latin that began in the mid-1950s as a result of his work. The reform was necessary because the multitudes of veterans attending college on the GI Bill after World War II and the Korean Conflict had far less language training than pre-war undergraduates. There was a real need for college-level introductory textbooks. Sweet knew that older students were more likely to learn by a prescriptive method than by induction. Moreover, the University of Michigan in the 1950s and 1960s had a very active linguistics program.  During his graduate studies and his nearly two decades as a Latin teacher at five prep schools in the East, Sweet developed an interest in applying linguistic analysis to the description and study of Latin; in the summers of 1952 and 1953 grants from the Carnegie Corporation brought teachers to the Latin Workshops to work with him in developing new materials for the teaching of Latin. He was the only person at the University of Michigan to ever hold the title of Professor of the Teaching of Latin in recognition of his leadership in the field. Throughout his career at Michigan he continued to be innovative in his teaching methods and materials; he developed an entire Latin curriculum based on programmed instructional materials and did pioneering work in computer-based training in Latin. Every course he taught contained something of the non-traditional, and many of his ideas and models are only today being adopted in schools and colleges throughout the country. The term "Sweet Latin" will always be part of the story of Latin in America.Sweet was an avid outdoors person who for many years coached track and skiing. He earned second and third places in national competition in running and competed in a road race at age 75. He also helped organize the first Sierra Club chapter in Michigan.

  • Sources:

    APA Newsletter (Dec. 1992) 20-1; U. Michigan Classics Department archives; WhWh 1980-1:3234.

  • Author: Ludwig Koenen