All Scholars

PALMER, Elizabeth Hatch

  • Date of Birth: October 18, 1865
  • Born City: Ipswich
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Dr. Charles, a surgeon, & Hannah Hatch P.
  • Date of Death: May 18, 1920
  • Death City: Wellesley
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Education:

    B.A., Wellesley, 1887; University fellow, Yale, 1904-5; Ph.D., 1905.

  • Dissertation:

    “The Adnominal Genitive in Thucydides” (Yale, 1905).

  • Professional Experience:

    Teacher, Wheaton Seminary (now Wheaton College), 1890-1900; instr. Greek, Vassar,1900-2; instr. Latin, 1904; asso. prof., 1905-20.

  • Notes:

    Elizabeth H. Palmer was born to an old New England family. She became fascinated with Greek and Roman coins as a girl and made numismatics of the ancient world her specialty. Though she wrote her dissertation on a grammatical subject and studied under the Hellenists Thomas Day Seymour (1848-1907) and Thomas Dwight Goodell (1854-1920), and the Latinists Edward Parmelee Morris (1853-1938) and Harry Thurston Peck (1856-1909), she maintained her interest in coins and during her frequent travels to Europe amassed a considerable collection of ancient coins and other Realien. Palmer introduced a course on numismatics to the Vassar curriculum. Her love was the classroom rather than research and she described how distributing real artifacts of antiquity that students could actually see and touch, brought the ancient world (or at least a part of it) to life in her classroom. She lectured on early Roman coins to the American Numismatic Society. Beset by arteriosclerosis in middle age, she retired from Vassar and returned to Ipswich, where she died at 54 years of age The Faculty Minute noting her death said, “She possessed something of the ancient Roman virtus, something of Roman reverence and dignity, quickened by a sympathy which made her a loyal friend and a reasonable fellow-worker.”

  • Sources:

    Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University, 1916-20 (New Haven, CT: Yale, 1920) 1596-7; Vassar Miscellany News 4, 56 (May 26, 1920); “Memorial Minute” Vassar College Archive.

  • Author: Ward Briggs