William Linn Westermann

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William Linn Westermann in 1919
Westermann (standing in back row, third from left) with some members of The Inquiry

William Linn Westermann (September 15, 1873 – October 4, 1954) was an American historian and papyrologist who served as the president of the American Historical Association in 1944. He was regarded as an expert on the economy of the ancient world.[1]


Westermann was born in Belleville, Illinois, and attended the University of Nebraska and University of Berlin. He taught at the University of Missouri from 1902 to 1906, then left for the University of Minnesota. In 1908, Westermann joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin. He spent twelve years of his academic career in Wisconsin, moving to Cornell University in 1920.[1] He was appointed professor of ancient history at Columbia University on March 5, 1923.[2] During his tenure at Columbia, Westermann acquired a large collection of Egyptian papyri for the institution.[3] He retired in 1948 to become a visiting professor at the University of Alexandria in Egypt.[1]

Westermann was appointed to the American Commission to Negotiate Peace and advised President Woodrow Wilson on Greek and Turkish events at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. He was a member of the American Academy in Rome's Broad of Trustees from 1922 to 1933.[1]


Westermann, a descendant of William and Sharon Tyndale, died at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York on October 4, 1954.[1][4] His wife, Avrina Davies Westermann, whom he married on June 15, 1912,[4] died on December 21, 1960.[5] They had one son, Evan Davies Westermann, (1914–1991) who attended the Scarsdale public schools, Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from Harvard University,[6] and worked for the New York Department of Commerce.[7] He married Virginia Woodworth on August 4, 1942,[8] and had two children.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "W. L. Westermann, Educator, 81, Dies". New York Times. October 5, 1954. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  2. ^ "Columbia Names Scholars". New York Times. March 5, 1923. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  3. ^ "Columbia acquires third century papyri". New York Times. November 27, 1932. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Burial Rites for Eminent Historian In Oakwood Today". Dixon Evening Telegraph. July 21, 1955. p. 10. Retrieved October 8, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b "Mrs. W. L. Westermann". New York Times. December 22, 1960. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  6. ^ "Announce Marriage Of Mr. Westermann". Scarsdale Inquirer. August 14, 1942. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  7. ^ "Widely Known Professor of History Dies". Dixon Evening Telegraph. October 8, 1954. Retrieved August 12, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Son of Former Dixon Woman Weds in East". Dixon Evening Telegraph. August 7, 1942. Retrieved August 12, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.

External links

  • William Linn Westermann at the Database of Classical Scholars
  • William Linn Westermann papers, ca. 1930–1954 at the Columbia University Library.
  • William Linn Westermann, Correspondence, 1918–1919 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Library
  • William Linn Westermann's presidential address and picture at the American Historical Association
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