Professor of Greek Language and Literature
Joseph H. McDaniels was born in Dennis, Massachusetts on October 25, 1840, the son of John and Ann (Hetherington) McDaniels. He graduated from Lowell High School in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1857 and then went to Harvard where he got his A.B. in 1861. He graduated at the top of his class, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. His Harvard class numbered just 81, but included, among others, Oliver Wendell Holmes. He obtained his A.M. from Harvard in 1872.
From 1862 to 1868 McDaniels taught classics and mathematics at Lowell High School. In 1868 he accepted the professorship of the Greek language and literature at Hobart College where he taught until his retirement 43 years later in 1911. He remained active in campus activities even after his retirement right up until his death in 1933.
The Hobart Herald, writing about Professor McDaniels after his death said: “No student who ever came under his influence could fail to recognize his unique quality, his personal distinction, his old-fashioned courtliness, his utter fearlessness, his ironic and incisive wit, as well as his wide culture and interest in many fields, this thorough but thoroughly humane scholarship in his special field.”
The Trustee minutes upon his death reported that he held the chair of Greek Language and Literature for 43 years: “[with] distinction as a scholar; respected and admired as a great teacher by his students.”
In demonstration of their respect for Professor McDaniels, the Hobart students three times dedicated their yearbooks to him: 1890, 1904, and 1932. Alumni also established a Professorship in Classics in his honor upon his death.
The Hobart Herald has numerous reports over the years about Professor McDaniels’ travels, his scholarships, and his service to the College. His contributions to the reputation of the College through his lectures and articles in The Nation, were unequaled.
He demanded excellence from his students, but was supportive of their every effort to obtain the required understanding of his teachings. He was revered on campus while he was a member of the faculty by students and faculty alike, and his reputation as a Greek scholar was national, if not international.
Professor McDaniels received honorary degrees from Griswold in 1891 and Hobart in 1911. He was political “Independent,” an Episcopalian, and a dedicated servant to Hobart for 65 years. He died on July 22, 1933 at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester after a brief illness at the age of 93.