B.A. U. Nebraska, 1894; M.A., 1896; LL.D., 1938; Ph.D. Berlin, 1902; H.L.D. U. Chicago, 1941; LL.D. U. Missouri, 1943.
Asst. prof. Lat. U. Wisconsin, 1894-6; Lat. tchr. Decatur (IL) HS, 1896-9; instr. to asst. prof. Lat. & Gk. U. Missouri, 1902-6; asst. prof, hist., 1914-20; prof. anc. hist. Cornell, 1920-3; prof. hist. Columbia, 1923-48; adviser, Turkish affairs & chief div. of Western Asia, American Commission to Negotiate Peace, Paris; del. on Gk. Territorial Commission Peace Conf., Paris, 1918-9; trustee, AAR, 1922-33; prof.-in-chge. Sch. Class. Stud. AAR, 1926-7; vis. prof. Farouk I U. (Egypt), 1949; prof. anc. hist. Alexandria (Egypt) U., 1953-4; pres. AHA, 1944.
"De Hippocratis in Galeno memoria quaestiones" (Berlin, 1902).
"Notes upon the Ephodia of Greek Ambassadors," CP 5 (1910) 203-16; "Apprentice Contracts and the Apprentice System in Roman Egypt," CP 9 (1914) 295-315; "Aelius Gallus and the Reorganization of the Irrigation System of Egypt under Augustus," CP 12 (1917) 237-43; "Land Reclamation in the Fayum under Ptolemies Philadelphus and Eurgetes," CP 12 (1917) 426-35; "The Development of the Irrigation System of Egypt," CP 14 (1919) 158-74; "The 'Inundated Lands' in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt," CP 15 (1920) 120-37; "Land Registers of Western Asia under the Seleucids," CP 16 (1921) 12-26; Greek Papyri in the Library of Cornell University ed. with Casper J. Kraemer (New York, 1926); Upon Slavery in Ptolemaic Egypt (New York, 1929); Greek Papyri, Columbia University Series, II, ed. with Clinton W. Keyes (New York, 1931); Tax Lists and Transportation Receipts from Theadelphia, ed. with Clinton W. Keyes (New York, 1932); Zenon Papyri, Columbia University Series, III, ed. with Elisabeth Sayre Hasenoehrl, 2 vols. (New York, 1934-40); "Sklaverei," Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie, Supplbd. VI (1935) cols. 894-1068; Greek Papyri, Columbia University Series, TV, ed. with Clinton W. Keyes and H. J. Liebesny (New York, 1940); "Tuscus the Prefect and the Veterans in Egypt (P. Yale Inv. 1528 and P. Fouad I 21)," CP 36 (1941) 21-9; "Slave Maintenance and Slave Revolts," CP 50 (1945) 1-10; Apokrimata: Decisions of Septimius Severn? on Legal Matters, ed. with A. Arthur Schiller (New York, 1954); The Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity, Memoirs APhS 40 (Philadelphia, 1955).
A leading ancient historian of his generation, William Linn Westermann was one of the pioneers of papyrology in the United States. At Berlin he was a student of, among others, such luminaries in the field as Diels, Wilamowitz, Vahlen, Pernice, von Duhn, Paulsen, Heinze; and at Heidelberg of Curtius and von Domaszewski.After teaching Latin at the University of Wisconsin (where he managed to have Rostovtzeff appointed after him) and Latin and Greek at the University of Missouri, he made ancient history his field. As professor of ancient history at Columbia he attracted graduate students interested in slavery in antiquity, methodology, and work at the frontiers of new knowledge, especially papyrology. His most important students were Sir M. I. Finley, Naphtali Lewis, and Meyer Reinhold.Westermann was a prolific author, whose principal works, both in learned journals and in many books, were in the field of papyrology. He played an important role in American intelligence after World War I. His diary deserves publication.
AmHistR 60 (1954-5) 495-6; G. W. Bowersock, "Rostovtzeff in Madison," The American Scholar 55 (1986) 391-400; Britannica Book of the Year 1955:585; Truesdell S. Brown, DAB Suppl. 5:735-6; NYTimes (5 Oct. 1954) 27; WhAm 3:905; Marinus Wes, Michael Rostovtzeff, Historian in Exile: Russian Roots in an American Context, Historia Ein-zelschriften 65 (Stuttgart, 1990); Wilson Lib. Bull. 29 (Dec. 1954) 280.