North American Scholar

VAN CLEEF, Frank Louis

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1863-05-20
  • Born City: Wellington
  • Born State/Country: OH
  • Parents: George Anson & Maria Knox Van C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1942-03-19
  • Death City: Brooklyn
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Florence Virginia Thurston, 31 July 1888.
  • Education:

    A.B. Oberlin, 1884; A.B. Harvard, 1885; Ph.D. Bonn, 1890.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tutor Harvard, 1890—1; prof. Gk. U. Wisconsin, 1891—4; librarian, Wise. Acad. Sci., Arts, & Lett., 1892—4; actng. assoc. prof. Gk. & Sanskr. Cornell, 1894—6; chief of Town Records Division and Translator Office Commiss. Records of Kings Co. (Brooklyn, NY), 1896—1934.

  • Dissertation:

    "De attractionis in enuntiationibus relativis usu Platonico," (Bonn, 1890).

  • Publications:

    "The Pseudo-Gregorian Drama Χριστὸς Πάσχων in its Relation to the Text of Euripides," Trans. Wise. Acad. Sci. Arts & Lett. 8 (1892) 363-78; Index Antiphonteus, CSCP 5 (Boston, 1895); Church Masters of Flatbush (Brooklyn, NY, 1912).

  • Notes:

    Van Cleef received superb classical training and made one important contribution to scholarship, but his temperament was unsuited to teaching and after he was not retained at Cornell he abruptly changed careers. For unclear reasons, he did not stay at Wisconsin, and he may have been happier in his service as librarian at the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters than as a professor. He was let go by Wisconsin and on the basis of his strong academic record was given a temporary position at Cornell, but he did not stay, despite the publication of his index to Antiphon. He then took a position with the Kings County Commission of Records, where he remained for 38 years (despite retirement in 1925) as a translator of numerous Old Dutch records of Brooklyn history. Though offered the job of state historian in 1923, he declined in order to remain at his position.

  • Sources:

    NYTimes (21 Mar. 1942) 17; Oberlin Coll. archives.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.