Professor Emeritus of History
Interviewed on April 2, 1980
[This transcript was created at the time of the original recording and may contain errors and omissions.]
Alfred F. Havighurst
Professor of History Emeritus
In the Map Room of the Jones Library
Wednesday morning, April 2, 1980
Horace W. Hewlett
For: Amherst College
HWH: What I’d like to do, Alf, is ask you some questions based on the essay you did on “The Origins of History 1-2,” and the particular target in my mind is Professor Laurence B. Packard. So let me start with a question about Laurence. He was thought of as a teacher rather than a scholar. He had two volumes in the Berkshire Series that were published in 1927 and 1929. Was he active as an editor in the Series until its end in 1948, after, I think, 29 volumes?
HAVIGHURST: Yes, I think so. Certainly up until the War, and I have no doubt he was associated with all the volumes that were published. As far as I can make out, the last volumes appeared about ‘48.
HAVIGHURST: And long after that they were being republished year after year. I wrote Henry Holt a letter a month or so ago asking about sales over the years and any other information, but, not surprisingly, I had no answer. One doesn’t get an answer from editors very promptly any more.
HWH: If Al Edwards were still there, you probably would. Charlie Cole used to say that more students took History 1 under Laurence than any other course in the College. Do you think that that is true?
HAVIGHURST: You mean in the history of the College? Or in his time?
HWH: I think probably in the history of the College.
HAVIGHURST: I’ve heard Charlie say that, too. And I think it’s probably, essentially, correct. Now of course with the New Curriculum, all the freshman courses or at any rate, the course in Social Sciences and the course in Physical Sciences were required. But I don’t think that so-called New Curriculum lasted long enough so that there would be any competition. So to speak in terms of numbers of students, History 1, either as an elective taken by most of the freshmen or as a required course, extended over thirty years. I suspect it’s a correct statement.
HWH: History 1 didn’t become required until the New Curriculum did it?
HAVIGHURST: No, it did not become required until after the War in ‘47-’48, whenever the New Curriculum went into effect.
HWH: But it was a pre-requisite for practically all other history courses...
HAVIGHURST: Only in European history-- what we called European history in those days. I wouldn’t know whether this was absolutely strictly applied, but it did say in the Catalogue along in the ‘thirties-- I can’t recall the year exactly, along about ‘56, ‘57, ‘58-- that it was pre-requisite for further work in European history.
HWH: It was an enormous accolade for the course that so many freshmen took it even though they were not required to.
HAVIGHURST: That’s right. There’s no question it had a great reputation and I think largely because of Laurence’s lectures.
HWH: Laurence came to Amherst in 1925 and began in his first year teaching History 1 and History 5, which was Europe after 1871, as I recall.
HAVIGHURST: He didn’t begin that in 1925. You’d have to check in the Catalogue.
HWH: It’s listed in the Catalogue.
HAVIGHURST: There was a course under a different title, I think. He shifted it somewhat. Of course, as the ‘twenties went on, there was much more to be said about World War I, because in ‘25 when he came here, really the historiography was just beginning to get going. Sidney Fay didn’t write his book until 1925. Barnes (Harry Elmer Barnes) over at Smith wrote a famous book on the origins of World War I, but that didn’t come out until just before Fay’s. And another book by a man by the name of Bernadotte Schmitt didn’t come out for a few years. So that I suspect that if Laurence did give a course on the period before and after World War I, that it didn’t become established in his mind-- that the content didn’t get worked out-- for a few years. I saw that item in the 1925 Catalogue also and it didn’t sound quite like History 5.
HWH: No, you’re absolutely right. The title did change and I think the title was “Europe After 1871.”
HAVIGHURST: Yes, that’s right. But then in due course he abbreviated the sections up at least until 1900. I would say that probably from 1950 on it was essentially a course since 1900. You may remember taking a course in it yourself. Oh, there was a background, but I think he swept over the earlier period pretty fast.
HWH: He also introduced History 9 which was essentially Historiography.
HAVIGHURST: For honor students, essentially.
HWH: Yes. And to jump ahead to another question that I have-- did most of the students who took History 9 go on professionally in history? Because an awful lot did.
HAVIGHURST: An awful lot did, but I wouldn’t say most, because most would be more than half and certainly not more than half did.
HWH: It was a fairly small course, though.
HAVIGHURST: I sat in on the course at first and then when we developed junior honors, Dwight [Salmon] and somebody else ran junior honors, and Laurence and I ran senior honors. I would have to check in the grade books, but normally we had oh a dozen, say, maybe fifteen, each year. Sometimes not, maybe only nine or ten, or something like that. We had somewhere between ten and fifteen, except for one or two of those large classes. You know there were one or two large classes-- like the Class of 1950, a very large class, and we had thirty in that course that year. And I think, that Armour Craig’s and Stuart Hughes’s class-- what was that? ‘Thirty-seven? I think for some reason that was a larger class in the College as a whole, in the fresh man class and through their four-year period.
HWH: Ours was the largest class to enter up until that time. ‘Thirty-seven was larger than...
HAVIGHURST: You were in ‘thirty-six, of course. Something happened there. Either the faculty decided to expand, or the calculations of Dutch [William J.] Newlin, who was running Admissions, weren’t quite right, because we did have more. I remember that affected History 1 because we couldn’t squeeze it into Appleton any more. Well, that might not have been the Class of ‘thirty-seven, that might have come a little later. Those figures could be easily checked. You see in Laurence’s file there are all his grade books, and so if there was any question from the Registrar’s records as to how many students took a particular course in a particular year, all you’ve got to do is to go to his grade books and count them up.
HWH: Great. In 1936 Laurence added History 13 which was the “Age of Louis XIV.”
HWH: I believe this had been a particular interest of his.
HAVIGHURST: That’s right. That was his graduate school period of concentration. He wrote his thesis on the period. I’ve forgotten just what his thesis subject was. He never talked about it. I don’t think he ever went on with that as a period of research. Maybe this would be a proper point to say that he did do one or two fairly important articles in the ‘twenties on the diplomatic background of World War I, and I remember distinctly seeing them and reading them before I came to Amherst. I mean perhaps when I was in graduate school. As long as you’ve referred to History 13, he was chosen to write the volume on the period in the Langer series. William Langer of Harvard edited a series called The Rise of Modern Europe. It was a series of books by specialists in the fields, and Laurence was asked to write the one on the age of Louis XIV but he never wrote it. He had a lot of notes, and towards the end of his life, the last few years before he died-- let’s see he died in ‘55, I think.
HWH: ‘55, I believe.
HAVIGHURST: He talked about it a little and he had collected a lot of notes, but he never wrote the book.
HWH: Dwight Salmon came in 1926 and taught only one course: Spain.
HAVIGHURST: Yes. That was his specialty in graduate school.
HWH: Was he a full member of the Department?
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes. And I think if you look at the Catalogs you would find that he didn’t have anything to do with History 1 at first. He may have helped Laurence with grading some of the papers. I don’t know about that at all. He may have helped him a little. But he added within a year or so the course in the Middle Ages.
HWH: I have that in 1927 he added Mediaeval History.
HAVIGHURST: Yes, that’s right. Now, Spain, his course on Spain. What was that called? Modern Spain? Something like that. I think it was.
HWH: I have it somewhere.
HAVIGHURST: But then, as you say, within a year he added the Middle Ages, and those were his two courses for some years before the War-- before he got interested in Russian history.
HWH: In 1928 he joined Laurence in History 9 as listed in the Catalog. I wondered if this was a reflection of his growth or acceptance as a teacher, because he was a young man then.
HAVIGHURST: Dwight of course was in the first World War. By this time he was in his early ‘thirties. Yes. I would assume that this meant that he had been accepted as a regular member of the faculty. Of course, Dwight was one of Laurence’s students at Rochester, so he just associated him with History 9 also.
HWH: The Department had been a two-man operation from the beginning until 1919, with a few exceptions. It became a three-man department from 1920 to ‘25, which is when Laurence came; four-man the very following year, when Dwight came, until 1930; five-man, when you came in 1931, until 1936; and then six-man from ‘37 until the War.
HAVIGHURST: When Ev Gleason came.
HWH: It’s now a fourteen-man department. Have you got any comments on this?
HAVIGHURST: Perhaps the obvious comment is that the College is nearly twice as large as it was in the ‘twenties. I think there were about 750 students then-- somewhere in that vicinity.
HWH: Eight hundred when I was here in the ‘thirties. I wonder, too, if the change from a full-year course to a semester course, where the department had to offer more different courses.
HAVIGHURST: I should think that that might have been a factor. I think perhaps more important factors though, were-- and this applied to the curriculum as a whole-- that in the middle ‘thirties nearly all of the classical language requirement was dropped.
HWH: In ‘33.
HAVIGHURST: And that made a big difference in terms particularly of what they would take in the freshman and sophomore years. I would say that was a stronger factor, and I would say another factor was the quality of the history courses and particularly Laurence’s leadership.
HWH: You came in ‘31, as we just said, and in ‘32 you began sharing History 1 with Laurence.
HAVIGHURST: I was brought primarily to help Laurence and I was writing a dissertation at Harvard. This was just a year or so after the depression when everyone was having the most awful time trying to get a job, you know. And my coming was sort of accidental. I had never been in Amherst. I didn’t know anybody from Amherst, but I assisted a Harvard professor in his course on English History. Apparently, from what Dwight has said, Laurence and he decided that if they did add somebody they would add somebody in English history because Gally [Herbert Percival] Gallinger was due to retire pretty soon. Several times I have said to Dwight, “Why didn’t you get an Amherst man? You had so many Amherst men.” “Well,” he said, “Laurence and I thought we’d better try to get someone in English history and there wasn’t any.” None of those Amherst graduates were doing English history. The American Historical Association was meeting in Boston that Christmas, the Christmas of 1930, and I was going to the conference of course, to various sessions, and I ran into my man [Whitney] at Harvard and he said, “Oh, Havighurst, would you be interested in a job for next year?” And I said, “Well I don’t know, I’ve got to finish my thesis.” “Well,” he said, “You might talk with these people from Amherst.” And if I hadn’t, if the Association meeting hadn’t met in Boston, if I hadn’t run into Ed Whitney, the Harvard man whom I assisted, I never would have had any contact. So I was brought primarily to help Laurence. That was the start of it. I came as an instructor, of course. And they said in a year or so you can have your own course, which I did.
HWH: This was in ‘33?
HAVIGHURST: In ‘33 I guess.
HWH: In ‘33 you began History 12
HAVIGHURST: That’s right. They didn’t want to force Gally out. It wasn’t any great problem. I was still writing my thesis. I said, “No, I can wait a year before I give a course. Maybe I can finish my thesis.”
HWH: That was one of my questions. Your course was the “Constitutional History of England.” Gally was still teaching English history and I wondered if your coming brought any kind of conflict with his teaching.
HAVIGHURST: I don’t think it brought any conflict with his interests and he was certainly always very friendly to me. He didn’t teach constitutional history; he taught general English history. Of course, he also taught another course. What was it? The Renaissance? He taught two courses.
HWH: I think it was the Renaissance.
HAVIGHURST: Yes, it was the Renaissance. And his English history course was a general course from beginning to end.
HWH: I think I mentioned to you that I took that course and it was as dull as could be. He used Trevelyan as the textbook, as the only reading for the course. And it seemed to me he wasn’t too interested in teaching at that time.
HAVIGHURST: It’s hard to say. His wife had died, he was a bit of a loner, and he lived in a room or two above Cosby...
HWH: Down at the center of town.
HAVIGHURST: The center of town where the Funeral Parlor is now. It’s either that house or was the one next to it. I think it was the house that was torn down to make room, first, for a food store that didn’t take.
HWH: That was the First National-- now that set of shops next to the Unitarian Church.
HAVIGHURST: As far as I know, Gally was ready to retire when he did. Of course, one didn’t retire at 65 then. I do recall, looking up-- this was a natural thing to do-- when I came, because I thought, well, he’s the English history man, how many years would he remain as the English history man? I think he was about 60 when I came.
HWH: He retired in ‘39.
HAVIGHURST: And he didn’t retire until ‘39, so in those days, you see, most people did keep going until 70 if they wanted to. But as far as I know there was never any problem. I certainly saw more of Gally than Laurence or Dwight did.
HWH: In 1937 Dwight started teaching History 14 (Near East and that later became Eastern). Have you any idea why it was started at that time? Was it just Dwight’s growing interest in that period, and area?
HAVIGHURST: I can’t answer that with any specifics. It is true that in the ‘thirties the Near East, that is to say Greece and Turkey, was bulking much larger in current events, because by this time the problems in Palestine were beginning and the Turkish Empire had broken up. But all of the states-- or most of them were under control of nations by mandate created by the Versailles Treaty after World War I. All these problems were being worked out in the ‘thirties. I think that’s why Dwight began to develop a special interest in the area.
HWH: Now Frederic Lincoln Thompson died in November 1935, and we just said Gallinger retired in 1939, and in 1939 you replaced Dwight in History 9, the historiography course. Was there any reason for this last assignment at that time?
HAVIGHURST: No, the only reason was that the junior honors course was begun. I think if you look it up, you will see that that’s when Dwight and Ev Gleason began doing junior honors. Junior honors were sort of a survey of world history but primarily European. We decided that it would be a good thing for honors students to go back over European history examining some of the problems. This was sort of a repeat, but on a higher level I suppose, than History 1. But students gave reports and read papers. Then, Laurence and I took them into historiography, which was the history of history-writing and the method of history-writing and the problems met when one was trying to write history. And then, with the development of the honors work in the ‘thirties, this is entirely another story. The honors programs did change and now we required a thesis, so along about ‘37 or ‘38, the second semester of History 9 was largely given up to the writing of a thesis. And we had, say 10 or 12 students, depending upon their interests, Laurence would have three or four writing a thesis under him; I would have three or four writing a thesis under me; and then maybe Dwight would take on one or two. I’ve forgotten whether the junior honors course was a year course or a semester course. I have a feeling the junior honors course was only a semester course. That can be checked.
HWH: In historiography did you consider the area of evidence?
HAVIGHURST: Yes, we did. We talked a great deal about historical evidence. I’m in the process of going through all my files and I think I can put together the assignment sheets running over a period of several years which might be useful to retain in the archives.
HWH: Yes, they would be. I know when I was at Yale Graduate School in history, there was a required first-year course given by Professor Woodbine on historical evidence.
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes. I know all about Professor Woodbine.
HWH: Such things as did George Washington really cut down the cherry tree, did Pocahontas save John Smith.
HAVIGHURST: ...and who fired the first shot at the battle of Lexington.
HWH: ...and the Loch Ness monster-- that sort of thing. It was entertaining.
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes, we had fun with that. That probably was the most fun. For example, we had an assignment on the Mormons: what was behind the Mormons, what was the basis of the Mormon contention that the Mormon book was dictated by whom? A saint? I’ve forgotten.
HWH: The Angel Mormon.
HAVIGHURST: Angel Mormon, O.K. [Chuckles] You’re not a Mormon, are you?
HWH: No. I’m not, but I’m very interested in it. We also had the question of whether the Rune Stone out in Minnesota was authentic.
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes, we had that. That was one of our problems, the Rune Stone. Every student usually had one of these problems in historical evidence to try to see to what extent what was being said about the Rune Stone or about the beginnings of Mormon religion, was based upon historical evidence that could be accepted by the reader, no matter what his feelings might be.
HWH: Well the older members of the faculty of the History Department, Croc Thompson and Percy Gallinger, had left by ‘39. Up until that time were there regular meetings in the History department?
HAVIGHURST: If so, they didn’t amount to anything. The only department meetings that I ever remember were when Dwight and Laurence and I got together.
HWH: I wondered if that was so, because my next question is going to be, did you and Laurence and Dwight...
HAVIGHURST: I think that whenever there was any question of an appointment, the other two would be consulted. Croc Thompson I don’t think could care less, and I think that Gally liked to be consulted, but I don’t think he knew much about the issues and as long as he was consulted he went along.
HWH: But they were not involved...
HAVIGHURST: But when I was appointed, when I came up for an interview, there was a luncheon at Laurence Packard’s and I was just telling Leonore Packard not long ago, “The thing I remembered about my first meal at your house in Amherst was the wonderful, thick, lamb chop.” And she laughed and she said, “Well, you know--” What was the name of the market where the bookstore is now?
HWH: Harvey’s Market.
HAVIGHURST: Harvey’s Market. She got all the meat there. Once she went down there to pick up some lamb chops and one of the Harveys said, “That in the world do you do with these thick lamb chops?” And Gally and Thompson were there. That’s really about the last that I remember about them officially, but I’m sure they were consulted if there was any question of an appointment.
HWH: They weren’t involved in creating courses.
HAVIGHURST: No, no.
HWH: They went their own way.
HAVIGHURST: They went their own way, that’s right. Gally at some point had a sabbatical, so he was away part of a year. I forget just which year that was. Of course Croc died about ‘35.
HWH: ‘35, yes. Charles Sherman was added to the Department, in name only I think. Well, he was more involved with the political science department, but he gave a course in Greek and Roman History. I assume this was in part to keep him on the faculty after the Classics requirements were dropped.
HAVIGHURST: Yes, that’s right. Of course tenure in those days wasn’t very strictly defined, but he had been here-- I don’t know exactly when he came-- but he’d been here six or eight years probably, or five or six years. And as you say, he was transformed into a political scientist, but he did give a course in Ancient History. And so he was a part of the History Department.
HWH: Did it work out well?
HAVIGHURST: I think so. I don’t recall that there was any great friction. I don’t recall just what he taught. I think he taught Political Theory in Political Science.
HWH: Yes, he did.
HAVIGHURST: And that probably took a lot of his time to get that going. So he participated in activities of the History Department but only on the periphery. He might have an honors student write a thesis under him, but he wasn’t associated with the honors courses as such.
HWH: As a freshman, I had a fairly advanced Latin course with him. I was surprised later to see that he was now a member of the political science and history departments.
HAVIGHURST: I don’t recall that there was any great friction. I don’t know that he was entirely happy. Harold Laski was in Amherst on at least one occasion for four or five lectures-- Sherman was a friend of (strangely enough) Harold Laski, who certainly had, I wouldn’t exactly say Marxist ideas, but he leaned in that direction. Laski was a friend of Stanley King’s. It was through Stanley that Charlie Sherman got to know Laski. The College gave Charlie time off to go to London and become a political scientist, so he went to the London School of Economics.
HWH: Where Laski was...
HAVIGHURST: . . .and worked with Laski.
HWH: Stanley also had a good friend in Count Sforzo, you may remember, who spent a semester here.
HAVIGHURST: Yes, that’s right. He did, indeed, because I remember going down to the Packards’ once or twice to meet him.
HWH: Was it the aftermath, do you think, of the Meiklejohn departure that brought Sidney Fay and Sidney Packard to Amherst as visiting professors the same year Laurence came?
HAVIGHURST: I don’t know the story there exactly. Did it last a year or just one year?
HAVIGHURST: It lasted a full year?
HAVIGHURST: Well you see this was Laurence’s first year here. Did Laurence give a second course that year?
HWH: His first year he gave...
HAVIGHURST: Two courses?
HWH: 1, 5, and 9.
HWH: I’ll just check I’m quite sure [Consults catalog]
HAVIGHURST: Probably not 9.
HWH: Yes, in his first year he began teaching History 1, 5, and 9-- in 1925.
HAVIGHURST: I don’t know the story there. It might have been that arrangements for Fay and Packard had already been made before Laurence’s appointment was firmed up. I don’t know about that.
HWH: Well the College was scampering around to try to fill positions.
HAVIGHURST: That’s right. And I’ve forgotten what Fay and Sidney taught that one year. I’ve forgotten what courses. Sidney Packard probably taught the Middle Ages because that was his field.
HWH: And it seems to me that Fay... (It was Packard in the Middle Ages, you said?)
HAVIGHURST: Sidney Packard.
HWH: Yes. Sidney Packard and the Middle Ages, and I think Sidney Fay was in European History.
HAVIGHURST: He was, but I don’t think he duplicated the material in History 5, even though by this time this was Sidney Fay’s specialty. But I do happen to know that Sidney Fay started out as a historian way back in the 17th and 18th centuries-- so he might have taught back there. You’d have to check the catalog on that. I’ve forgotten. But I don’t know the circumstances. Poor old Sidney Packard is so frail today that I don’t know that I would want to bother him with such questions. I haven’t seen him for a year or so.
HWH: You recall he was Four-College Coordinator for a spell, after that program began.
When Laurence collaborated with Professor Newhall of Williams and Sidney Packard on the Berkshire Series, do you know whether the three met together?
HAVIGHURST: Oh they must have. They were very close-- Sidney, well Sidney was a distant cousin of Laurence.
HWH: I didn’t know that.
HAVIGHURST: Yes. And Newhall was in graduate school with Laurence. They might even have been roommates. I’m not sure of that. Oh, yes! They were very close friends. They undoubtedly got together every year, or talked on the phone, or corresponded or whatnot.
HWH: Was it their idea-- this series-- or did the Press promote it?
HAVIGHURST: I don’t know. I suspect it was their idea. I suspect it was their idea because they were the three editors and they wrote the first books.
HWH: The first volume was published in 1927, as I recall.
HAVIGHURST: Was that Laurence’s? Laurence’s was either the first or the second.
HWH: That’s another thing I’ve got to check. How widely was that series used?
HAVIGHURST: Of course, this was after my undergraduate years, so I had no contact with it as an undergraduate-- so far as I know it had a very wide sale and very wide use.
HWH: Do you know why it stopped?
HAVIGHURST: You mean why they discontinued writing books? Well simply because the whole style of teaching history and the emphasis in teaching history has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. You look at the Amherst College curriculum and there will be more courses in Asian history and Asian Studies than in European history.
HWH: Do you think this is true elsewhere?
HAVIGHURST: Now in European history there’s Bezucha, John Halsted, and Cheyette-- but we also have three people in Asian, or whatever we call it these days. I think that’s the chief thing-- that the emphasis has shifted away from Europe as being the center of the world, which it no longer is.
HWH: Did Henry Holt provide the funds for this, or was it some outside organization?
HAVIGHURST: No, I think this was a business proposition. I think that Laurence and the others sold the idea. Whether they had some contact at Holt I don’t know, but the Holt people decided it was a good commercial venture.
HWH: We had several assignments in History 1, and 5, from the Berkshire Series.
HAVIGHURST: Oh you did, indeed. I mean we used Laurence’s two books on Louis the XIV and the commercial revolution; we used Dwight’s book on Imperial Spain; we used Owen of Harvard’s book on India; we used some of the earlier books on the Early Church and the Middle Ages and the Feudal System. Newhall’s book on the Crusades.
HWH: For its time and its purposes it was a very successful series, then?
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes. You see they were about a hundred pages long and in those days they were not paperbacks, they were hardcover, so they lasted, and when they were put on Reserve here they lasted year after year.
HWH: In another area, Alf, what did Laurence do during World War II at Amherst? I believe the regular courses were in somewhat disarray.
HAVIGHURST: Well, they were. Of course, I wasn’t here. I can’t speak very specifically to this, but I think he taught a special history course. I don’t know what it was-- whether it was a combination of freshman history and World War I, I don’t really know.
HWH: He just adapted what had to be relevant to the times?
HAVIGHURST: Yes, I think so. As I say, if you look in the Catalog for those years, it may not be spelled out very specifically.
HWH: It isn’t. I did check them and...
HAVIGHURST: Because they left it up to him. They had to, don’t you see. They didn’t know in advance how many students were coming, what units they would be with, or whether they would be...
HWH: Meteorologists or Navy Pre-Flight...
HAVIGHURST: So something was just put down, a general title for him. But the traditional History 1, as I said in my little article, was so limited in the numbers of students who took it, that I think people like John Warren or Allen Gilmore taught 15 or 20 students that were available.
HWH: Alf, we’re near the end of this side of the tape. Why don’t I just reverse it and go to the other side?
[END OF SIDE ONE: BEGINNING OF SIDE TWO]
HWH: This is the beginning of Side Two of an interview with Professor Havighurst.
Did Laurence have any reaction to the introduction of laboratory sections with the New Curriculum?
HAVIGHURST: Well, his reaction was to accept it, but without great enthusiasm. He was a very close friend of Gail Kennedy and Gail wanted to develop this procedure-- the laboratory method-- not only in the physical sciences but in the social sciences and in the humanities to give the students a chance themselves to do what a poet does, or what a historian does; to give freshmen the opportunity to do what a historian does or what a lab physicist does. I don’t recall that Laurence ever balked. On the other hand, he didn’t do a great deal to-- what shall I say-- he didn’t do a great deal to make it operative; he sort of left that up to the rest of us.
HWH: He didn’t oppose it?
HAVIGHURST: Oh no! No, he didn’t oppose it. I can’t even recall that he ever got angry about it. He just did what he pleased in his sections, which was to talk. He would ask the students if they had any questions. Well they always had questions. So he would talk. This was his idea of teaching.
HWH: So it was really not a seminar.
HAVIGHURST: No, it wasn’t. On the other hand, in History 9, now, the students were to take the initiative and the rest of us didn’t. We corrected or we explained or we opened up new questions. But in the honors courses, Laurence expected that the students would do the bulk of the work and open up the subjects and so forth.
HWH: Did he continue to give all the lectures?
HAVIGHURST: In History 1-2? He gave most of them, Of course, he was away once or twice. Let’s see, this is after the War; he did have a sabbatical. One year he taught at Harvard, but for the moment I can’t remember whether that was before or after the War, and then the rest of us just divided up the lectures.
HWH: I think it was before the War.
HAVIGHURST: That he went to Harvard? O.K., all right. I would say along in ‘48, ‘49, ‘50, ‘51 that he gave most of the lectures, but everybody else gave two or three. Each of us gave two or three. Something like that.
HWH: When Charlie Cole proposed that each member of the Department take more than one section in lab, what was Laurence’ s reaction?
HAVIGHURST: Well, I think he sort of left that up to me, if there were any problems, to try to solve them or get them to dissipate. I think he agreed with me that none of these young instructors should have more than three sections.
HWH: Well, three is quite a few.
HAVIGHURST: Charlie Cole, if I remember correctly, said, “What else are they doing’?” But what we tried to do with these new men was to give them a course of their own, plus two or maybe three sections. And in order to get it down to fifteen...
HWH: You mean fifteen students in a section?
HAVIGHURST: Yes. To get it down to fifteen students, this meant that some instructors had to take either three or perhaps even four sections.
HWH: Wow! That is quite a lot.
HAVIGHURST: I think that’s what I say in that letter.
HWH: You did. Did many students beyond those involved in honors seek Laurence out for advice?
HAVIGHURST: Outside of honors?
HAVIGHURST: Oh, I think so. Perhaps mainly for graduate school, or law school. Laurence was good in the office talking with students, but not quite as outstanding as he was on the lecture platform. He would sort of wait for the student, and if the student was a little hesitant, he didn’t always get much encouragement. They’d both just sit there. [Chuckle]
HWH: Did he have an office? It seemed to me most of the sessions were at home.
HAVIGHURST: Well, yes. Another thing that Laurence did which should be on the record here-- I might have put it in the article but I didn’t simply because it wasn’t associated closely with History 1-- was that in the late ‘thirties he had what he called a history club, which met not every Sunday evening, but a number of Sunday evenings through the year. He hand-picked the students. I don’t know whether this caused any friction among those that weren’t invited. I just don’t know. I think he tried to include all the honors students who wanted to come and they would usually have supper-- or at least sometimes have supper-- and then each Sunday evening, Stuart Hughes or whoever was in the course would do a book review. He’d pick out very readable books, but substantial books.
HWH: Laurence picked them out?
HAVIGHURST: Laurence would pick them out and say, “Now, Stuart, you read this and give us a half-hour review of it at our party, at our meeting of the club, such and such a Sunday.” And that would be very successful. But, let’s see, what question led to this?
HWH: It’s whether he had an office.
HAVIGHURST: Well, he didn’t. You see one of the problems in those days was that there weren’t many offices. Until somewhere along in the late ‘thirties, Dwight and I and Laurence were in an office in Appleton, which roughly was about 20 feet by 10.
HWH: Three of you?
HAVIGHURST: Three of us. So that usually you didn’t have privacy when you talked to a student. You may remember we had the little room next door as the seminar room. That was the room, before either of us came, which was the office of student activities, they called it. This was before the New Gym and, of course, Scott Porter, before he became Dean, was Chairman of the Committee on Student Activities. Well, we took that over as our seminar room, and this was another small room about the size of our office. We would go in there and talk to a student if we wanted to keep from disturbing somebody else who was in the room. But the three of us in the office didn’t last too long. We took over George Whicher’s office down the line. I’ve forgotten where he went; he got a better office somewhere. Of course he was editor of the Quarterly and as I recall he needed more space.
HWH: Did you have any secretarial help?
HAVIGHURST: We had no secretarial help until after the War. I think, I’m quite sure, that’s accurate.
HWH: And then did you have your own? Or was it pooled?
HAVIGHURST: Well, before the war we had available Miss Churchill. She did most of the examinations-- writing up fair copy of the examinations. She did the mimeographing, and then Maude Miner did a lot of this. She did the mimeographing for most of the exams in the little room there in the Chapel, the first room on the right.
HWH: I guess I did know that.
HAVIGHURST: ...beyond the hall.
HWH: Miss Churchill was down at Grosvenor House?
HAVIGHURST: She eventually was, though originally she was up there with Dutch Newlin because she was Dutch Newlin’s secretary as long as he was in admissions. Then when admissions shifted from Dutch to Dick MacMeekin, then, I think, partly because we needed Miss Churchill and partly because nobody was going to push her out of service, she was given a job as faculty secretary or something and she typed up and mimeographed assignments and examinations and tests and so forth.
HWH: Was history the first department to assess book fees back in the ‘thirties?
HAVIGHURST: So far as I know.
HWH: Because others followed.
HAVIGHURST: Yes. I think this was Laurence’s idea. The librarian said, well, we can’t buy those, and Laurence said, well, all right we’ll charge every student one buck, two bucks-- I guess it was two bucks.
HWH: Two dollars, yes.
HAVIGHURST: And then, in a few years, why, I don’t know whether this was by the time Newt McKeon came in, the library found funds for that and we didn’t continue it. I know we didn’t continue after the war. I think it stopped about ‘37 or ‘38.
HWH: How did Laurence get along with other members of the faculty?
HWH: He seemed like kind of a loner.
HAVIGHURST: Well, I was going to say, he got along well, very well with his close friends. He would speak out, but he wasn’t a scrapper. As I said, with Gail Kennedy he must have disagreed on a good many matters, but they were such close friends, that, as far as I know, this never caused any break between them. And of course, Joy Kennedy and Leonore were very close friends.
HWH: Who were some of his other friends?
HAVIGHURST: Ted Baird. Dwight Salmon-- until some friction developed there. George Taylor. I would say his close friends in the ‘thirties and ‘forties until his death, his really close friends were Gail Kennedy, George Taylor, Ted Baird, Scott Porter, and, I trust, me.
HWH: How about George Whicher? Did they get along?
HAVIGHURST: It’s curious that you should ask that. I don’t think that they had much to do with one another. I don’t think they understood one another. There might have been a little rivalry there.
HWH: Or Roy Elliott?
HAVIGHURST: Well, George Roy Elliott lived his own life. He was a wonderful person, had a wonderful mind, but apparently he was not a tremendous teacher here. He couldn’t seem to move beyond a small circle who would be entranced by him. He had no general or popular appeal. I remember once when I-- when did George Roy Elliott retire?
HWH: Well it would have been, I think, in the ‘fifties.
HAVIGHURST: About 1950, or early ‘fifties?
HWH: I think later ‘fifties. [wrong: it was 1950 — Ed.]
HAVIGHURST: Well I was on the Committee-- I remember this distinctly-- I was on the Committee of Six and the problem of “poor George Roy” came up. He only had four students or something. And I remember everybody was very kind about it, but they felt that something should be done about this.
HWH: And he was not the most cooperative person.
HAVIGHURST: Probably not, though I didn’t know him well. His general approach to people was, of course, very kindly. You say he led a remote life; I would say he led the remote life from the faculty, primarily. I’ve always heard Ted Baird speak well of him, but not speak as though he knew him very well.
HWH: Did Laurence speak up at faculty meetings?
HAVIGHURST: Not very much. And that’s an interesting question. No, Laurence was not a debater. He was not an arguer, unless he got very mad, and then he just exploded and would swear a little bit...
HWH: I remember that from class.
HAVIGHURST: ...Like going down the street in a car. If he saw a driver who was a little careless, he’d open the window and say, “Where’re you going you God-damned fool?” or something. This didn’t happen very often, but I remember it happened.
HWH: And he probably didn’t like faculty meetings much.
HAVIGHURST: No, but how he was on the Committee of Six, I don’t know. He was on the Committee of Six for some years. There was a group of them year after year, in the ‘thirties. Stanley King started the Committee of Six when he first came; he said there’s got to be a central committee so that we don’t have all these little-bitsy committees that take time when they have nothing to say, and nothing to consider. But Laurence and-- who else was on it for so many years? The philosopher-- Lamprecht.
HWH: Sterling Lamprecht.
HAVIGHURST: Sterling Lamprecht was on it for years, and probably George Whicher, and probably-- the biologist...
HWH: Otto Glaser?
HAVIGHURST: Otto Glaser, who was very, very active. But I remember distinctly that Laurence said very little in faculty meeting.
HWH: Did he take part in Faculty Club activities?
HAVIGHURST: He may have stopped in occasionally, but he certainly didn’t play pool, and he didn’t play bridge.
HWH: So he’d stop by for a cup of coffee and conversation?
HAVIGHURST: He might. He might, though not too often. He would work at the office until about four o’clock and then go home.
HWH: How about his relationship with Stanley King?
HAVIGHURST: Well, you asked that the other day and I’m really not qualified to speak on that.
HWH: I didn’t mean to go into the differences between them, but...
HAVIGHURST: They didn’t get along very well.
HWH: Well, I assume when they started out that they got along fairly well.
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes, sure, just as anybody would.
HWH: And then something happened. There was disaffection at least on Laurence’s end.
HAVIGHURST: There was disaffection and I think that the Salmon issue was probably very important there, because the Salmons became very close friends of the Kings, and Stanley pushed Dwight along. Dwight hadn’t finished his thesis and Laurence didn’t think he should become a full professor until he had finished his thesis. Well, finally, Dwight did finish his thesis.
HWH: I suspect it was the Kings who persuaded the Salmons to buy that property in Martha’s Vineyard.
HAVIGHURST: I have no doubt they were. But I think also that Laurence and Stanley just didn’t have anything much in common intellectually. Stanley King was sort of a go-getter, get things done...
HAVIGHURST: Aggressive. Laurence was aggressive enough, but only intellectually.
HWH: I mentioned to you earlier that one of the great criticisms of History 1 and 5 was the quantity of reading assignments. What was Laurence’s reaction to this, if he ever heard it?
HAVIGHURST: I don’t remember this coming up very much as an issue. I do remember that now and again this was mentioned, and we may have taken it into consideration when we were working out the assignments, so I think this was more applicable to History 5 than it was to History 1.
HWH: That’s fair.
HAVIGHURST: We tried to keep History 1’s reading, unless it was very easy, down to about 100 pages a week. Oh, if they read a play-- you may recall, I don’t know whether your year or not, but we used occasionally some of Shaw’s St. Joan. Well, that was supposed to be fun and we didn’t count that. But in History 5, I am sure that this question did arise now and then. He would assign three or four hundred pages.
HWH: It was heavy.
HAVIGHURST: It was probably quite heavy.
HWH: Particularly when a student had other courses with demands. Were there ever any evidences of cheating in Laurence’s courses?
HAVIGHURST: I have one famous case of cheating in History 1. I put it in my little write-up, but Mildred looked it over and she said, “You shouldn’t put that in there.” It’s a very interesting case and if you want me to do it, I will give that to you separately. It was the only case of cheating that I can really remember. It certainly was the only one that caused any problems. It was a very interesting case of a boy who claimed to have turned in his final exam down at the gym. Well it all came out in the end, he did not turn it in. He took it home and finished it, or wrote it, and he came in the next day and said, “Well that’s strange, I found my exam in my old papers.” You see, we passed out the last weekly assignments, the last weekly tests, we passed those back at this midyear exam. And he said, “I found it in the midst of my weekly exam.” It didn’t get turned in. Well, then we checked back and he had not taken the last weekly exam. That’s the essential part of the story. I know who it was, but of course I didn’t mention his name in the story. What do you think?
HWH: Well I think it’s well enough not to bring it up again.
HAVIGHURST: Not to even pass it to you?
HWH: Not while we’re recording.
HAVIGHURST: Oh, not while we’re recording.
HWH: Otherwise, yes, I would be interested.
In neither History 1 nor 5 were outside papers assigned. I assume this was just because of the structure of the course that you and Laurence and the others liked best.
HAVIGHURST: No, there weren’t, though by the time we had the so called laboratory method, we did have some essays prepared in advance-- either for the section as a whole or for individuals. And they would read these, or talk about them when they came to class. But before that, before the War, before the New Curriculum, to my knowledge, to my memory, there were no essays either in History 1 or History 5. One of the reasons was, of course, that we had large numbers. Another reason, I guess, was probably that we felt in the context of the course, and the procedures of the course, that these weren’t necessary. After all, there were 200 in History 1 and 100 in History 5.
HWH: Did Laurence have any reaction to the almost overnight success of Problems in American Civilization, which was the sophomore required course after the War?
HAVIGHURST: In the New Curriculum. Well, I would say his reaction was entirely favorable, because here again he was a close friend of George Taylor’s.
HWH: He had no role in constructing the course, I presume.
HAVIGHURST: I don’t think he had any role. But you see that course operated quite differently from History 1 even under the New Curriculum, because while George Taylor was the Chairman of the course, he had only one vote, and I know that there were problems with the faculty in developing that course. Here again, I speak only from general knowledge, but I think that during a certain segment of the course, George would be in charge for a couple of weeks, and then during another segment of the course somebody else would be in charge and either give most of the lectures or determine who would give the lectures, determine the reading and the sections’ assignments.
HWH: Very different from History 1.
HAVIGHURST: Probably. I don’t think that was entirely because of the personnel; I think it was because of the nature of the material. How could we in History 1-- speeding along with one week on feudalism and the manor-- how could we do much more than try to explain what historians had said in general terms, instead of getting involved in the technical, somewhat technical, point about the difference between feudalism in France and feudalism in England.
HWH: Well, I think your and Laurence’s courses were in large part chronological, too...
HAVIGHURST: Yes, whereas the others weren’t...
HWH: . . .where American Studies were topical.
Did Laurence ever travel out to meet with or speak to Alumni?
HAVIGHURST: I have no doubt he did and I think he enjoyed that because he enjoyed speaking. You’d have to consult the records of the Alumni Council, or Al Guest would probably know. I think he did some, but on the other hand I can’t recall, for example, ever going to fetch him from the train in Springfield or Northampton or the airport once planes got going.
HWH: I have no recollection after the War of Laurence going out. He may have spoken in New York.
HAVIGHURST: He probably did. I remember, now I do recall, that he spoke in New York. Well, his health began to fail along about ‘51 or ‘52. He had a-- well his heart-- I’ve forgotten just when his heart trouble began. And we all think that if he had exercised more he would have lived much longer. But I think that probably in the ‘thirties he did speak to Alumni. But here again, I don’t recall. He liked to speak and I don’t think he ever turned an opportunity down unless he had some conflict. For example, one year just before the War, he went down once a week to New Haven to give a late afternoon lecture-- five o’clock or something like that. How long this lasted I don’t recall, but I remember he enjoyed that immensely. His skill and his gift was such that he could sit down and in fifteen minutes sketch out a little outline of what he was going to do. Then after the War started, we had a series of lectures at the High School for the public, and I remember once he was very nice to me, he said, (I think the subject was something about England’s role) and he said, “Alf, you should do that.” And I said, “If I did it I’d need two weeks to prepare it.” And I said, “You’ve done all the others, I see no reason why you shouldn’t. This should be your series.” So he gave the lecture and he did it very well. I remember at the time thinking, well, it might have been a little more specific, a little more underneath the surface, but at the same time I thought, well, this is what this series is supposed to do. It was merely supposed to acquaint the people who came with some of the more general problems. And I would have, of course, tried to probe here and there. Probably not very sensibly for the audience.
HWH: What was Laurence’s relationship with Scott Porter?
HAVIGHURST: Very good, very good.
HWH: And he was violently anti-war, I remember thinking as a student. And as I recall, his duties in World War I were in Siberia. Was that in Intelligence?
HAVIGHURST: Yes. He was in Washington most of the War. Dwight could handle this much better than I can. He went on to Siberia with some Intelligence group attached to one of the armies. This was at the time when the Russian armies were supposed to hook up with the American. This was after Russia pulled out of the war. I really am not qualified to talk about that. Let’s see, your immediate question was--?
HWH: That he was violently anti-war.
HAVIGHURST: This is an interesting development. He changed-- but who didn’t? He was almost a pacifist. I don’t know just how you would define an absolute pacifist.
HWH: You mean in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties?
HAVIGHURST: The ‘twenties and early ‘thirties. Fred Barghoorn, I remember distinctly, being very much disturbed because Laurence’s attitudes began to change about ‘35 or ‘36. I think I’m speaking accurately here when I said Fred Barghoorn. He came back and assisted Charlie Cole, I think, in paper reading and so on. And I remember at the time that he and others were disturbed that Laurence’s tone in History 5 was changing a little. That was rather natural. But Laurence did change and became violently anti-Hitler, of course, by the end of the ‘thirties. I think in terms of his analysis of the background of the war and the conduct of the war, it didn’t affect that very much. He never had great respect for the military. But on the other hand, much of what he talked about was military history.
HWH: He knew a lot about it.
HAVIGHURST: He knew a lot about it.
HWH: He was brought here under Georgie Olds. I assume there was some connection of Olds-Rochester and Amherst.
HAVIGHURST: There is and I don’t know exactly what. Probably Olds may have consulted somebody in Rochester and inquired about good history teachers? At that time, no only Laurence, but the man who was in diplomatic history, wrote the great book on the Monroe Doctrine-- Perkins. Dexter Perkins, I think, taught at Rochester at the same time. And Dexter Perkins was in graduate school at the same time that Laurence was and they were very close friends. Dwight would know the details. And whether Olds took the initiative and appealed to some body at Harvard, I don’t know. I suspect he went directly to Rochester and said, who are the good people in history, and then he came in touch with Laurence.
HWH: That’s interesting because the first assistants in the history department came from Rochester, too.
HAVIGHURST: Well they were probably Laurence’s students just before 1925. And what was it I was about to say-- some connecting point there?
HWH: It wouldn’t have been Rhees? I raise that because he was an Amherst graduate (1883) and president of the University of Rochester.
HAVIGHURST: Oh yes, that’s right, that’s right. I suspect there was this initial tie that President Olds had which led to it. I don’t know exactly why Laurence left except that he thought that here he could take the lead. He was by that time about forty, or just under forty-- thirty-seven or -eight.
HWH: In 1925, yes.
HAVIGHURST: He was born in ‘87, so he was 38 and this was probably a good time for him to move. I don’t know who was over him at Rochester. Then he was given one of those special professorships that were created, I think, to get some of these key people like Roy Elliott, Laurence and the physicist-- the professor who must have been here when you were here-- well, his wife died and he married Bennett’s widow.
HWH: Oh, Sam Williams.
HAVIGHURST: Sam Williams.
HWH: Yes, he came here from Oberlin, as I recall.
HAVIGHURST: That’s right. I think he and Laurence and George Roy Elliott came just about the same time-- possibly Sterling Lamprecht [Lamprecht came in 1928, ed] And Amherst established these, well in those days, very well-paid chairs. I know that those professorships carried larger salaries than the ordinary professorship. Of course Laurence wasn’t married then.
HWH: Just incidentally, he married a childhood friend of my mother’s. They grew up together in Derby, Connecticut.
HAVIGHURST: Oh, really? Well I think the Newhalls brought them together.
HWH: How was the relationship with President Pease?
HAVIGHURST: As far as I know, friendly enough. Of course Pease didn’t last-- what three or four years?
HWH: He was here four years from ‘28 to ‘32.
HAVIGHURST: I don’t know of any friction there.
HWH: Did Laurence know Henry Commager at all?
HAVIGHURST: Laurence had nothing to do with bringing Commager here. When did Commager come?
HWH: I think it was after Laurence died. It was ‘56.
HAVIGHURST: Well you see, Charlie Cole wanted some names here, and wanted talent along with the names. But that other man that came from Harvard?
HWH: McKay. Donald McKay.
HAVIGHURST: Donald McKay. He brought Donald McKay, Charlie did. Don was apparently a little restless at Harvard and whether he had in mind working Don in to replace Laurence’s role in the curriculum, I don’t know. I doubt that. But at any rate, he brought Don McKay, and Commager came here after McKay died.
HWH: I think he did.
HAVIGHURST: I think here again this was just Charlie’s idea, “Let’s get an outstanding man, a name.” So I don’t think Laurence had anything to do with Commager. Of course he may have known him, he probably did. Laurence, I might have said a while ago, was fairly prominent in the American Historical Association.
HWH: That was going to be another question.
HAVIGHURST: Well we’ll wait ‘til we get to it.
HWH: No, no, go ahead.
HAVIGHURST: Here again, I’d have to check this, but I think he was either a member of the Executive Committee or some prominent committee for several years. I remember he had to go to meetings and this was after I came. He wrote, as I said a while ago, one or two fairly important articles which were published in, I think, The American Historical Review. But then he lost interest in that. He didn’t really like history conventions. I doubt that he went regularly.
HWH: It occurred to me that one of his reasons for moving to Amherst might have been that it was closer to Boston and New York, and New Haven.
HAVIGHURST: Well I don’t know about that. He didn’t know Leonore then, if that’s what you mean; she lived in New Haven. No, I just don’t know about that. As far as I can make out, Laurence, while he was difficult to understand, never had ambitions to be a great historian. He did, certainly, have ambitions to be a great teacher of history. He didn’t open up much on these things, though I saw him over and over. Laurence, (and I wasn’t very good at it either) wasn’t very good in making conversation. If you called at his house, he would make an effort, but we would end up gossiping about Amherst College, and while now I think I enjoy gossip, in those days I didn’t. I thought, “Why do I want to know about Todd? Why do I want to know about Mme. Bianchi” Those things didn’t interest me then. When I came here, I worked hard in graduate school, as everybody does, and I had to work in the evenings. So I’d do my college work during the day and I’d settle down at seven o’clock or seven-thirty in the evening and work on my thesis material until midnight. The Packards were very nice to me. They’d entertained me a day or two until I found a place to live, and so I thanked them and two or three weeks went by and I ran into the Packards somewhere. Mrs. Packard said (I don’t know whether she’d started to call me by my first name then or not), but she said, “Mr. Havighurst, why don’t you stop in and see us?” “Why,” I said, “I’d love to.” “Well,” she said, “We’re home nearly every evening.” I said, “Maybe you’re busy, maybe you’re working.” “Oh no!,” she said, “Laurence doesn’t work in the evenings. Please call.” They loved callers, and for at least the first few years, about half the time when I’d stop in the Salmons would be there, and about a quarter of the time the Porters would be there, and now and then the Bairds would be there. I wish I’d had a tape recorder then, because you asked me what they thought of Stanley King and what they thought of Arthur Stanley Pease and probably there were some comments and stories. Well, after this went on, I remember how restless I became because they just enjoyed telling the same stories over and over again.
HWH: They liked to hear them! [Laughter]
Do you think Laurence ever wanted to be president of Amherst College?
HAVIGHURST: I should doubt that. In the correspondence which Leonore gave to me and which I turned over to Lancaster, she said, “There are a few letters that I would not want to be used now.” So the Packard letters are to be used only with my permission. But in those letters I came across references to the fact that in the late ‘thirties-- it might have been the late ‘forties-- this older student wrote Laurence and said, “I understand you’re thinking of leaving Amherst”-- something like that. That’s behind that I don’t know. I thought that some time I would go through the letters again and when I see Leonore ask her what this was all about. Because that would be interesting. Now, I think in this letter this chap said something about, if you became President of Amherst, I would love it! But I don’t think Laurence was ever seriously interested, though he might have been. I have no doubt he was on a list of a hundred people, or fifty people, probably when Stanley King decided to resign. I’m sure he was probably on the list as maybe George Taylor was on the list, or Sterling Lamprecht, or George Whicher-- don’t you see?
HWH: I’m afraid Laurence would have made an horrendous president.
HAVIGHURST: He would have, he would have made a dreadful president.
HWH: Alf, I have a question or two more and the tape is just about out and I think this should probably be enough for this session unless you have a little more time.
HAVIGHURST: Mildred wanted to know how long this was going to take and I said I didn’t know. We eat lunch promptly and I ought to be home in 20 minutes.
HWH: Well, let’s try to schedule another time when it’s convenient, because I do want to ask you questions about your predecessors in the history department.
HAVIGHURST: O.K. but I won’t know much about that.
HWH: Why don’t we call it quits right here.
[Final draft completed 5/29/80]