Who was Richard O. Hathaway?

Richard Hathaway sitting at desk behind piles of paperRichard Hathaway was a serious scholar, and he was at the same time a delightful, light-hearted man with a real understanding of Vermont history and genuine sympathy for the underdog. He believed that history was expressed in many forms, and collected many of those forms, from books and old manuscripts to 19th century etchings, cartoons and painted dioramas. He loved films and drama as well as books.

As teacher and historian, Richard Hathaway opened doors to the past and in doing so enlightened the present. Hundreds of students were grateful recipients of his gift as an exuberant and witty lecturer and his encyclopedic knowledge of American history. He gently pushed his students to think both broadly and deeply about history, to consider the human values underlying events, and to be, as he was, deeply inclusive in their research and thinking. He also encouraged his students not to give up; he used to sign his letters to students, “Keep on keeping on! You are getting there!” He was, in other words, a legend.

What I do has a kind of housebroken prophetic nature about it . . . If you want to be weepy-dreepy about it, you could say I'm clothing the naked, feeding the hungry. — Richard O. Hathaway

He began his journey into the study of history at Bates College and then on to Northwestern University where he earned a graduate degree. Dick's first teaching job was at Bowdoin College in Maine. He joined the faculty at Goddard College in 1965 and subsequently taught at Norwich University and Vermont College.

He authored more than 300 articles, essays, book reviews, and commentaries and served as a humanities scholar with the Vermont Humanities Council, president of the Vermont Labor History Society, and trustee of the Vermont Historical Society.

The Hathaway Award seeks to inspire, through a variety of formats, the same scholarship, passion, and deep inclusiveness that Richard O. Hathaway brought to his life and work.

Collections Related to Richard O. Hathaway

  • Richard O. Hathaway Papers
    This collection consists mainly of course notes, examination papers, academic writings, and miscellaneous papers of Richard O. Hathaway from his undergraduate years at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (Class of 1955). Also included are several papers from his tenure as board member at the T.W. Wood Gallery, Montpelier, Vermont, ca. 1990.

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