Charles Homer Haskins (1870-1937) organized the founding of the American Council of Learned Societies in 1919 and served as its first chairman from 1920 to 1926. He received a PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University at the age of 20. Appointed an instructor at the University of Wisconsin, Haskins became a full professor in two years. After 12 years there, he moved to Harvard University, where he served as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1908 to 1924. At the time of his retirement in 1931, he was Henry Charles Lea Professor of Medieval History. A close advisor to President Woodrow Wilson (whom he had met at Johns Hopkins), Haskins attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 as chief of the Division of Western Europe of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace. He served as president of the American Historical Association in 1922, and was a founder and the second president of the Medieval Academy of America in 1926-27.
A great American teacher, Haskins also did much to
establish the reputation of American scholarship abroad. His distinction was recognized by honorary degrees from Strasbourg, Padua, Manchester, Paris, Louvain, Caen, Harvard, Wisconsin, and Allegheny College, where in 1883 he had begun his higher education at the age of 13. Read more.
In 1983, ACLS inaugurated a series of lectures entitled “The Life of Learning” in his honor. Designed to pay tribute to a life of scholarly achievement, the Haskins Prize Lecture is delivered by an eminent humanist selected by the Executive Committee of the Delegates of ACLS. The lecturer is asked to reflect and to reminisce upon a lifetime of work as a scholar, on the motives, the chance determinations, and the satisfactions and dissatisfactions of the life of learning.