Poetae lyrici graeci minores - Angie Clara Chapin

Angie Clara Chapin

Other Scholars in Wellesley College


Angie Clara Chapin (1855-1937)

Angie Clara Chapin was born on 7 April 1855 in Auburn, Michigan to Sarah J. Brown and George P. Chapin. She was an only child. According to the 1860 census, her father was a grocer. They lived in Auburn, in the same neighbourhood, until sometime after 1900.

In 1871, Angie started her postsecondary education at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 1875 with a Bachelor of Arts, making her one of the first women from her hometown to pursue a career in academia. Soon after Angie graduated, she became a member of the Literary Department at Flint High School, and remained in that position until 1879.

In 1879, Angie became a teacher at Wellesley College to fulfill the need for a Greek scholar. Angie quickly excelled at Wellesley College, she was described as “one of Wellesley's beloved and outstanding teachers; a devoted classicist and a charming gentlewoman." (Auburn 13021: Angie Clara Chapin). By 1887, she was given a full professorship. In 1901, Angie became a professor of Greek Language and Literature. She was also the head of the Classics department from 1887-1919. Angie would also be the acting Dean of Wellesley College from 1911-1913.

In 1886, she became one of the first female commissioners of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and, in 1906, became the first female member of the School.

Angie was also an avid member of her community. She was a pioneer of co-education, an advocate for equal rights for women, and was key to the development of the classical department at Wellesley College.

In 1914, Angie left the United States with the intent of travelling through Italy and Greece. During her travels the Great War broke out leaving her no choice but to go back to the United States. In order to get back into the country, Angie had to fill out an emergency passport application. On the application she describes herself as being 5’4”, with a small mouth, a medium forehead, a flat chin, brown eyes, hair that was originally brown but was turning grey, with a ruddy complexion, a straight nose, and an oval face.

By 1920 Clara, age 64, was living on Morris Crescent, Yonkers, Westchester, New York. The Census lists her as “partner" to head of the home, Jesse A. Seeley. Ms. Seeley was a public school teacher in Yonkers. Although we may jump to conclusions about two women living as partners, it really just indicates that they were sharing equal partnership in the renting of the home. The rules for the 1920 enumerators explained that, “If two or more persons share a common abode as partners, write head for one and partners for the other".

Within the following decade, Angie Chapin moved back to her home state. In the 1930 census, she was living as a lodger on Packard Street, Ann Arbor Michigan. The owner of the home was retired clergyman, LeRoy N. Pattison (age 81). Living with him was his daughter Josephine, (age 53) who had trained as a nurse, his sister Martha L. Sturnberg (age 87), and two boarders, Angie (age 75) and Ellen R. Davis (age 86).

On 27 August 1937, Angie Clara Chapin passed away. She was buried next to her parents in Auburn’s Fort Hill Cemetery.

The UPEI Provenance Collection contains a book once gifted to Angie Clara Chapin. Poetae Lyrici Graeci Minores, by Theodore Bergk, includes Constance Virginia Carter’s bookplate, “Virtus Vera Nobilitas,” and is inscribed with “Angie Clara Chapin. Christmas 1896. (K.M.E.)”.

Other books in the UPEI Provenance Collection:

Feyerabend, Karl. A Pocket Dictionary of the Greek and English Languages. Johannesburg: Hermann Michaelis, 1910. [Constance Virginia Carter’s bookplate, “Virtus Vera Nobilitas.” Also inscribed “A.C. Chapin.”]

Herbert, George. The Poems of George Herbert. Oxford University Press, 1912. [Constance Virginia Carter’s bookplate “Virtus Vera Nobilitas.” Also inscribed “For Dear Miss Chapin With many happy memories and love from Dorothy Bruce, ‘26 210 Roland Ave, Baltimore. Pemaquid Point September, 1927."]

Mommsen, August. Griechische Jahreszeiten. Schleswig: Julius Bergas, 1875. [Library of Wellesley College bookplate. Also inscribed “A. C. Chapin. 1899.” With a newsclipping and some notes.]


1860 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Adrian Ward 4, Lenawee, Michigan; Roll: M653_551; Page: 400; Image: 402; Family History Library Film: 803551.

1900 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Auburn Ward 10, Cayuga, New York; Roll: 1012; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0021; FHL microfilm: 1241012.

1920 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Yonkers Ward 1, Westchester, New York; Roll: T625_1279; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 210; Image: 759

1930 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Ann Arbor, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: 1029; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0013; Image: 432.0; FHL microfilm:2340764.

Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950. Year: 1937. Place: Ann Arbor, Washtenaw, Michigan, USA. File No. 006282. Death Records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan.

Calendar of the University of Michigan for 1871-2. Ann Arbor: Published by the University, 1872.

Fourteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1920. Vol. II. Population 1920. General Report and Analytical Tables. Available at Google Books.

The Michigan Alumnus: Volume XXXIII October 9, 1926-September 10, 1927. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, 1927.

“Angie Clara Chapin.” Auburn 13021. Published: 30 April 2010. Accessed on 4 August 2016.

U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Year: 1914. Selected Passports. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

“History of the Office.” Wellesley College: Wellesley College Archives. Accessed 4 August 2016.

Wellesley College, Report of the President 1914-1915 (1916). Presidents' Reports. Book 19.

Wellesley College, Report of the President 1918-1919 (1919). Presidents' Reports. Book 16.


Photo from Michigan Historical Collections , “Angie Chapin,” A Dangerous Experiment: Women at the University of Michigan, accessed 17 March 2017.

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