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Prof. Herbert Hunter Vaughan
1884 - 1948
Professor of Italian Language
He was the son of a very distinguished man, Dr. Victor Vaughan, for many years Dean of the Medical School, University of Michigan, and of Dora Taylor Vaughan, a lovely lady whom many of us remember. After attending the local high school, he entered the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated in 1903. Having already discovered that his main interest was in Romance Languages, he went to Harvard for graduate study, and there achieved his Ph.D. at the exceptionally precocious age of 22.
His teaching career began with an instructorship at the University of Kansas, 1905-1907. He then taught at the University of Michigan (1907-1908); at Trinity College, N.C. (1909-1910); at Dartmouth (1910-1912) and at the University of Pennsylvania (1912-1919), where he was promoted to an assistant professorship. He was then called as professor of Modern Languages to the University of Nebraska (1919-1922). From there he accepted an assistant professorship at Yale (1922-1923), and thence was appointed professor of Italian in the University of California, Berkeley, in 1923, a title that he held until his premature death.
In 1946 he spent several weeks in the hospital with stomach trouble. In the fall of 1947 he had a relapse, from which he never recovered. But he died of pulmonary thrombosis.
Professor Vaughan, originally a Protestant, turned to Catholicism during his last days in the hospital.
During World War I he was a First Lieutenant in Military Intelligence, Division of General Staff, Washington, D.C.
Having a scientific mind, in his studies he specialized in Philology, especially Italian, and became the best authority in the country on Italian dialects. But he was also an able teacher of literature, with a keen appreciation of literary beauty. He edited several text books and left an unpublished manuscript on Sicilian dialects.
In appearance he was tall, thin and, in mature age, somewhat stooping. In character he was a most quiet, rather shy, very modest man, full of benevolence, incapable of such petty defects as jealousy and envy. He remained a bachelor, contented in his semi-aloofness from the world, and yet surrounded by the genuine affection of friends, colleagues, and students. He had a passion for teaching, which was the center of his life. He was especially beloved by his students. For example, every year, in an advanced course in composition, he had them write a play, which was later presented by the Circolo Italiano, under his guidance and even with his financial support.
He had traveled considerably in Europe and sojourned at length in Italy. He had a little home in Buchanan, Michigan, in which he expected to live after his retirement.
With his death Italian studies in this country have been severely stricken. We, his colleagues, will always miss his even temper, his trustworthiness and unselfishness in all things, his friendship, reticent but warm, his profound erudition. He had an astounding memory, a mind which loved to penetrate into the secrets of grammar and language, a great eagerness and capacity in the art of conveying his knowledge, with inexhaustible patience. Although he loved a few friends, he was, on the whole, a solitary man. He liked to laugh, but was not a raconteur. He loved to discuss the problems in which he was interested, and, also in administrative questions, he had a remarkable grasp of details, which he saw with a mathematical eye.
Those of us who had the privilege of his friendship, will always miss his counsel and his quiet, but ever pleasant, companionship and benevolence.
In Memoriam by
From Calisphere, a service of the UC Libraries, powered by the California Digital Library.
From a letter from Gen. George Warren Taylor to Gen. W. T. Dameron in Huntsville, Missouri, Sept. 20, 1906, printed in the Huntsville Herald:
We arrived in Geneva about 2 p.m. in time for lunch. We remained here five or six days, taking steamers and visiting many villages on either side of the lake. One side belongs to Switzerland and the other to France. Dr. Vaughan, wife and sons too the train and went to Chateau deLancey, where their son Herbert, attended school several years since. They were very cordially received by Madame Brunei, the professor's wife, her husband not being at home.
Author: Vaughan, Herbert Hunter.
El Trovador,by Antonio García Gutiérrez; Herbert Hunter Vaughan; Michael Angelo De Vitis
The Dialects of Central Italy is available from Amazon-Canada: