Herbert Wing, Jr. (1889-1972)

Professor Herbert Wing with students, c.1960

Herbert Wing, Jr. was born on December 8, 1889 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University in 1909 and went on to the University of Wisconsin, where he received his Ph. D. in 1915. His career in teaching had already begun by that time, first at the Wilmington High School in Wilmington, Massachusetts in 1909 as an assistant principal, and then at the University of Wisconsin, where from 1910 to 1912 and from 1914 to 1915 he was a student assistant in European history.

Wing came to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1915 as an associate professor of Greek language and literature. In 1920, he became full professor but he had already returned to the teaching of history. While at Dickinson, Wing taught courses in German, Greek, Latin, geography, and all types of history courses. Every freshman entering the College from 1916 to 1946 was required to take Wing's ancient history course and he still is recalled with awe and fondness by generations of alumni. Many, in 2001, still refer to him as "Mr. Three by Five," because of his insistence that students take notes on assigned readings and projected papers on three by five inch index cards.

Beginning in 1937, he chaired both the Greek and history departments. In 1948, Wing became the first incumbent of the Robert Coleman Chair of History. Wing retired in 1960 with professor emeritus rank. In addition to teaching, for decades Wing had a voice in the administration of the College, such as chairing the "Committee of Eight" which designed and debated curriculum reform from 1936 to 1938. During the Second World War, he served as the assistant director of the Air Crew Training Program on the campus. He supervised the running of the College Bookstore for twenty-seven years and was secretary of the faculty from 1940 to 1946.

In 1916 Wing married Helen Leonard Gilman who helped to organize the Mary Dickinson Club. They had a son, H. Gilman Wing, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dickinson in 1948, having almost grown up in the halls and classrooms of the College; he served the Allison Methodist Church board. Herbert Wing, Jr. died on September 13, 1972 at his home, 429 West South Street, in Carlisle. He was buried in New Bedford, among the long line of whaling captains of his family.

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Dickinson College Archives
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