On Charles Homer Haskins

Charles_Homer_HaskinsCharles Homer Haskins (1870-1937), for whom the ACLS lecture series is named, was the first chairman of the American Council of Learned Societies, from 1920 to 1926. He began his teaching career at the Johns Hopkins University, where he received the BA degree in 1887, and the PhD in 1890. He later taught at the University of Wisconsin and at Harvard, 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 the Henry Charles Lea Professor of Medieval History. 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.

A great American teacher, Charles Homer Haskins also did much to establish the reputation of American scholarship abroad. His distinction was recognized in 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. 

In 1983, to recognize Haskins’ signal contributions to the world of learning in the United States, 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 at the ACLS annual meeting by an eminent humanist. The lecturer is asked to reflect and to reminisce upon a lifetime of work as a scholar, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions and the dissatisfactions of the life of learning. The lecturer is chosen by the Executive Committee of the Delegates.