A.B. Cornell, 1916; A.M., 1921; Ph.D. Yale, 1926; Sterling fell, in Rome & N. Africa, 1926-8; study at AAR, 1922-3, 1926-8.
Hist. & Lat. tchr. Dubuque (IA) HS, 1917-8; Pueblo (CO) HS, 1918-9; instr. to prof. hist. Indiana U., 1919-59.
"The Administration of Gordian III" (Yale, 1926); printed, YCSA (1934) 59-132.
William Thomas Morgan, A Syllabus in Modern European History from Charlemagne to the Present (800-1920), assisted by Townsend (Bloomington, IN, 1920); The Chronology of the Year 238 A.D. (New Haven, 1928); "Conservatores or Curatores of the Pagus Thuggensisl," CP 45 (1950) 248-9; "The Revolution of A.D. 238: The Leaders and Their Aims," YCS 14 (1955) 49-105; "Sextus Catius Clementinus Priscillianus, Governor of Cappadocia in A.D. 238," CP 50 (1955) 41-5.
Prescott Townsend taught ancient history at IU for 40 years, communicating to his students his enthusiasm for his subject matter and for the scholarly pursuit of knowledge, while insisting on the highest standards of accuracy and completeness. He had been a Sterling Memorial Fellow at Yale in 1926 and there kindled his interest in Roman Africa, on which province he would be recognized as the leading American authority. He used his expertise in philology and epigraphy to inform his publications, which are notable for their precision and thoroughness. According to the Faculty Resolution, "Among his colleagues throughout the University Prescott Townsend became known as a wise and just man, motivated by no personal ambition or exhibitionism, temperamentally disinclined to the flashy, the specious, or the ill-considered, in academic life or elsewhere, firmly conservative in wishing to retain proven cultural values, but welcoming changes which he regarded as genuine improvements of the life or the intellectual level of the University."
Indiana University archives; Indianapolis Star (6 Jan. 1961); WhAm 4:950.