North American Scholar

MARTIN, Donnis

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1891-07-20
  • Born City: El Dorado Springs
  • Born State/Country: MO
  • Parents: William S., a bank cashier, and Eula Ann Logan M.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1970-11-01
  • Death City: El Dorado Springs
  • Death State/Country: MO
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Missouri, 1911; A.M., 1913; Ph.D. Cornell, 1917; study at AAR, 1925-6.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof. modern langs., Friends Univ. (Wichita KS), 1913-14; prof. foreign langs., Western State Coll. (Gunnison CO), 1914-15; prof. Bowling Green State Univ., 1917-1918; prof. Classics, Christian College (Columbia MO), 1918-20; prof., head Classics dept., Winthop College (Rock Hill SC), 1920-1957; CAMWS vice pres. 1954-5, chair, Latin Week committee, South Carolina, 1926-31, 1949-69.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Cynegetica of Nemesianus" (Cornell, 1917); printed (?Ithaca, 1920).

  • Publications:

    Fifty Latin Verbs: Their Compounds and Derivatives with Gladys Martin (Boston, 1927); "Similarities between the Silvae of Statius and the Epigrams of Martial", CJ 34 (1939) 461-470; Latin Poetry of the Empire, ed. with Gladys Martin (Boston, 1940); "Latin Week, past and present", CJ 53 (1958) 216-219; Triumph and Defeat: The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism, the Loss of Rome to the Goths (novel), with Gladys Martin (North Quincy, MA, 1972).

  • Notes:

    Donnis Martin and her identical twin, Gladys, were born in 1891 in southwest Missouri at El Dorado Springs, just 10 years after the town's settlement. They pursued precisely parallel educations at the University of Missouri (AB, AM) and Cornell, where they both received PhDs in 1917, each writing on imperial Latin topics under the direction of Charles E. Bennett. After a series of appointments in Kansas, Colorado, Ohio and her native Missouri, in 1920 Donnis took a position at the classics department at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, SC, where she would remain for 37 years until retirement in 1957. Though as professors Donnis and her sister Gladys never coincided in the same institution, in 1925-26 they simultaneously attended the AAR as visiting students, while Charles R. Morey served as Professor-in-Charge. The twins also carried on a robust scholarly collaboration. Most significantly, in 1940 they published Latin Poetry of the Empire in the Allyn & Bacon College Latin Series, outfitted with lavish notes, to compensate for "the lack of a textbook embracing the poetry of the imperial period"; the volume extended to Claudian and the Pervigilium Veneris. An unusually gifted and energetic presence in the classroom, it was estimated by 1953 that Donnis had trained one-third of the active Latin teachers in the state of South Carolina.

    Donnis Martin's main contribution may have been the organization, under the umbrella of CAMWS, of nationwide Latin Week celebrations, starting as chair in 1951, a task that she continued right up to her death in 1970, reporting annually in CJ on prizes awarded. Here Donnis put a particular emphasis on creating original classically-themed plays for performance. In South Carolina, by the mid-1950s Donnis Martin considered her annual Latin Forum at Winthrop College for high school students "the largest classical gathering of its kind in the United States"—drawing upwards of 1500 participants. As such, it brought Martin to the attention of Time magazine in March 1953: "the forum was a good show; that is one thing that...Miss Donnis Martin...has always made sure of." Shortly after Donnis' death, her sister Gladys published a co-authored memoir of their early years growing up in the Missouri Ozarks.

  • Sources:

    Donnis & Gladys Martin, Ozark Idyll: Life at the Turn of the Century in the Missouri Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO, 1972); WhAmW 1958:824; Time magazine, 30 March 1953; The Florence Morning News (Florence SC), 18 March 1953 p. 12. 

  • Author: T. Corey Brennan