The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Hallett D. Smith

Smith, Hallett (1981) Interview with Hallett D. Smith. [Oral History]

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An interview in two sessions, April 1981, with Hallett D. Smith, professor of English, emeritus, in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, which he chaired from 1949 to 1970. In 1970 he became a senior research associate at the Huntington Library but continued teaching part-time at Caltech until 1975, when he became emeritus. He recalls his teaching career at Williams (1931-49) and Guggenheim Fellowship (1947-48) at the Huntington; invitation from President DuBridge to come to Caltech to replace Clinton Judy as chairman of what was then simply the Humanities Division. Discusses his duties, division’s emphasis on teaching vis-à-vis research, course requirements. Recollections of C. Judy and Robert Millikan. Athenaeum lunches; scientific colleagues Morgan Ward, Charles Lauritsen, Robert Bacher. Attempts to bridge gap between sciences and humanities; philosopher Charles Bures; psychologist John Weir. Campus visits of psychologist Carl Rogers. Humanities faculty as RAs in student houses: Horace Gilbert, Harvey Eagleson. Superb teaching of David Elliot and J. Kent Clark. Carnegie Corporation funding; instituting Public Affairs Room; Caltech joins American Universities Field Staff. Appointment of geographer Edwin S. Munger; project Capricorn; Robert Huttenback, Frederick Lindvall, Robert Oliver. Beefing up of social sciences; division’s name change (1966). Trend toward quantification. Carnegie support for chamber music. Becomes trustee of AUFS. Advanced English option, 1950s. Campus atmosphere during McCarthyism. Excellence in teaching exemplified by Charles Newton, David Elliot. Humanities option (1965); its effect on faculty recruitment. Semi-retirement to Huntington; teaches one course (Shakespeare) at Caltech. Controversy over granting tenure to Jenijoy La Belle. Chairing Athenaeum’s Board of Governors and acquiring its liquor license.

Item Type:Oral History
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Smith_H
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Smith, Hallett D. Interview by Carol Bugé. Pasadena, California, April 15 and 20, 1981. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Humanities
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ID Code:266
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:06 Dec 2017 21:07
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:24

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