Elizabeth Hazelton Haight

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Elizabeth Hazelton Haight
Elizabeth Hazelton Haight.jpg
Born(1872-12-11)December 11, 1872
Auburn, New York, United States
Died(1964-11-15)November 15, 1964
Beacon, New York, United States
OccupationAcademic, scholar
Academic background
Alma materCornell University
Thesis (1909)
Academic work
Sub-disciplineLatin literature, Greek poetry
InstitutionsVassar College

Elizabeth Hazelton "Hazel" Haight (February 11, 1872 - November 15, 1964) was an American classical scholar and academic who specialised in Latin teaching. She spent most of her career working for Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.


Elizabeth Hazelton "Hazel" Haight was born in Auburn, to John White Haight and Helen M. Haight née Meeker. Her father was one of the leading businessmen in Auburn during his lifetime.[1] She began studying Classics at school in Auburn, and attributed her love of the subject to the influence of her mother, who had read and enjoyed Virgil in her own schooldays, and who had been a decisive factor in Haight's going to college.[2]

Haight matriculated at Vassar College in 1890, and was commencement speaker for her undegraduate class, graduating from Vassar with a degree in Classics in 1894. She also edited the yearbook for that year, and was awarded a retrospective membership to Phi Beta Kappa.[3][4] During the course of her studies, some of her poems were published in The Miscellany News.[4] She received her AM, also from Vassar, in 1899, with a dissertation entitled "Conditional Sentences in the Iliad and the Odyssey".[3] In the intervening period, Haight taught at schools in the New York area, including Rye Seminary School in Rye (1894-1895), the Emma Willard School in Troy (1895-1900), and the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn (1900-1901).[4] Her MA was accordingly received in absentia. She then moved to Cornell University, where she studied with Charles E. Bennett, and received her PhD with a thesis entitled The Sea in Greek Poetry in 1909.[5][3] During her graduate study, she held teaching posts in preparatory schools in New York State.[3] She had returned to Vassar to join its faculty in 1902, alongside studying for her PhD, and became chair of the Latin department from 1923 until her retirement in 1942.[6] She was promoted to professor in 1922, 12 years after becoming an associate professor, partly due to the strong written support of Grace Macurdy, another pioneering female classicist at Vassar.[7]:120 In her correspondence, Macurdy praised Haight for her "executive ability" and described her as a teacher "whose enthusiasm and genuine love for her subject infect her classes".[7]:120 Haight's association with Macurdy continued throughout her career, as both taught together at Vassar for the remainder of their careers, and became close friends.[7]:i This association also included their shared efforts in the public campaign to resist the removal of Bert Hodge Hill from his position at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in the 1920s.[7]:152–65

Haight was the first woman to chair the Advisory Council of the then American School of Classical Studies at Rome, and in 1931 received a summer appointment to lecture at the University of Chicago.[4] She was also elected as president of the American Philological Association in 1934 – the second woman to hold that post.[8] Her presidential address was entitled "Prose Fiction in the Augustan Age".[3] During the mid-1930s, many scholars were emigrating from Germany under Nazi rule; Haight organised a programme of these visiting scholars to Vassar College.[5] She had similarly been influential in Vasser's war efforts during the First World War, acting as chair of the Faculty Committee on War Activities, as she believed that both Vasser and women were essential to the fight to protect democracy in the United States.[4]

During her long residency at Vassar College, Haight opened and voluntarily curated the Vassar Classical Museum and bought objects and inscriptions for it. This appreciation for the contributions of archaeology to a classical education was described by the classicist Donald Lateiner as "ahead of its time".[3] She also wrote a history of the college, along with James Monroe Taylor, its president from 1886 to 1914.[9] Upon meeting Mussolini in Italy in 1935, Haight presented him with works written about Italy by Vassar faculty.[4] She gave the Convocation address at Vasser twice – once upon her appointment to professor in 1922, and again in 1941. Her second address was called "Education for Service", and demonstrated her commitment to the education of Vasser women as part of empowering them, and preparing them to be "strong citizens of the republic and the world" rather than privileged princesses".[4] She retired in 1942, but continued to be an active part of Vasser's community, including giving a speech praising Vasser and arguing for the role of education in benefiting the state of the country at Founders' Day 1952.[4] That same year, the Elizabeth Hazelton Haight Fund for Research in Classics was established by a group of Vasser alumni, honouring her work.[5] Haight was remembered both through this fund and the testimony of her colleagues for her support of students and faculty at Vasser throughout her time at the college.[5][2]:xvii

Haight died in Beacon, Dutchess County and is buried in Fort Hill Cemetery.[10] At the 1965 meeting of the American Philological Association, Lily Ross Taylor read a tribute to Haight that praised her "devotion| to the Classics and the "great achievement" of her teaching.[2]:xvi–xvii Her obituary in The New York Times said she was "regarded at Vassar as the last of her era of outstanding women who dedicated their lives to the college".[11]


Haight published eleven books on classical subjects, as well as histories of Vassar and James Monroe Taylor.[3]:157 Her first book in the field of classics, Italy Old and New, published in 1922, featured a collection of essays and photos that drew on her own travels to Classical sites (including a visit to Ostia Antica, and a search for Horace's Villa at Licenza). The book was aimed at a lay audience (a common theme among her later publications), and made no use of notes or references. Nonetheless, Haight's classical knowledge informed the project throughout.[3]:158 Haight followed this work with research primarily on Latin literature – a topic that Haight worried had been falling out of favour in Classics, with archaeology and history becoming more popular.[2]:xvii These books, Horace and His Art of Enjoyment (1925), Apuleius and His Influence (1927), Romance in the Latin Elegiac Poets (1932) and The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy and the Satirists (1940) were all aimed at popular rather than scholarly audiences, and drew on a wide range of sources, both scholarly and otherwise.[3]:158-9 The works were variously described as "enthusiastic",[12] "charming",[13][14]:615 and "interesting",[15]:135 reflecting the success of her attempts to make these works accessible to multiple audiences.

From her work on Apuleius, Haight moved on to consider work in less popular genres, such fiction beyond the novel (Essays in Ancient Fiction (1936)), and the Greek novel (Essays on the Greek Romances (1943)) – the latter being a particularly unpopular genre for study at the time, as Haight herself noted.[16]:1 This work was followed by More Essays on Greek Romances (1945).[17] Both books were criticised by reviewers, and were not particularly popular.[3]:161-2 However, her interest in this genre at a time when it was generally neglected by scholars has led to her work being described as "pioneering".[3]:165 Her two penultimate books, the last published when she was 80, took up the topic of symbolism – first The Symbolism of the House Door (1950) and then Aspects of Symbolism in the Latin Anthology and in Classical and Renaissance Art (1952).[3]:162-3 Haight's final published book was a translation of Pseudo-Callisthenes' Life of Alexander, published in 1955.[3]:164 In addition, she published multiple articles in a range of Classical journals.[3]:163

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Autobiography and Letters of Matthew Vassar. New York, 1916.
  • Life and Letters of James M. Taylor. New York, 1919. OCLC 3433918
  • Italy Old and New. New York, 1922.
  • Horace and His Art of Enjoyment. New York, 1925. OCLC 250063956
  • Apuleius and His Influence. New York, 1927. Nachdruck, 1963. OCLC 367528670
  • Romance in the Latin Elegiac Poets. New York, 1932. OCLC 938038
  • Essays on Ancient Fiction. New York, 1936. Nachdruck Freeport (New York), 1966. OCLC 39970129
  • The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy and the Satirists. New York, 1940.
  • Essays on the Greek Romances. New York 1943. OCLC 251464618; Nachdruck Port Washington (New York), 1965.
  • More Essays on the Greek Romances. New York, 1945. OCLC 459716756
  • The Symbolism of the House Door in Classical Poetry. New York, 1950. OCLC 906181909
  • Aspects of Symbolism in the Latin Anthology and in Classical and Renaissance Art. New York, 1952.
  • Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander. New York, 1955. OCLC 459039241


  1. ^ "John White Haight (1815-1895) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com. 27 October 1975.
  2. ^ a b c d "Proceedings: American Philological Association Ninety-Seventh Annual Meeting". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. 96: i–xcvi. 1965. JSTOR 283745.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Lateiner, D. (1996–1997). "Elizabeth Hazelton Haight (1872-1964)". The Classical World. 90 (2/3): 153–166. doi:10.2307/4351927. JSTOR 4351927.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Weitzman, William (2019). "Elizabeth Hazelton Haight". Vassar Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Erck, M. E.; Erck, T. H.; Ryberg, I. S. "Haight, Elizabeth Hazelton, 1872-1964 - Memorial Minute". Vassar College. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  6. ^ "Elizabeth Hazelton Haight Dies". The New York Times. New York Times Archives. 1964-11-16. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  7. ^ a b c d McManus, Barbara (2017). The Drunken Duchess of Vassar: Grace Harriet Macurdy, Pioneering Feminist Classical Scholar by Barbara McManus. Ohio State Press.
  8. ^ "HAIGHT, Elizabeth Hazelton". Database of Classical Scholars. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  9. ^ Haight, Elizabeth Hazelton; Taylor, James Monroe (1915). Vassar. Palala Press. ISBN 9781347241851.
  10. ^ "Elizabeth Hazelton Haight - Find A Grave".
  11. ^ "Elizabeth Hazelton Haight Dies; Vassar Classicist and Professor". The New York Times. 16 November 1964.
  12. ^ Ogle, Marbury B. (1925). "Review of Horace and His Art of Enjoyment". The Classical Weekly. 19 (9): 70–73. doi:10.2307/30107739. ISSN 1940-641X. JSTOR 30107739.
  13. ^ Butler, H. E. (1928). "Review of Apuleius and His Influence". The Classical Review. 42 (2): 87. doi:10.1017/S0009840X00036246. ISSN 0009-840X. JSTOR 701303.
  14. ^ Lord, Louis E. (1933). "Review of Romance in the Latin Elegiac Poets". The Classical Journal. 28 (8): 613–615. ISSN 0009-8353. JSTOR 3290035.
  15. ^ Steele, R. B. (1928). "Review of Apuleius and His Influence". The Classical Journal. 23 (4): 315–317. ISSN 0009-8353. JSTOR 3289572.
  16. ^ Haight, Elizabeth Hazelton (1943). Essays on the Greek romances. Longmans, Green and co.
  17. ^ Haight, Elizabeth Hazelton (1945). More essays on Greek romances. Longmans, Green and co.

External links[edit]