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Short biography
Grace Macurdy was born
in Robbinston, Maine. Through her maternal grandmother, she traced her descent back to Governor
William Bradford of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1888, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College (then known as the Harvard Annex) and in 1893 began teaching at Vassar College, where she remained for 44 years. From 1899-1900, she attended
the University of Berlin on a fellowship from the Boston Women’s Educational
Association; and in 1903, she earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University. At Vassar, she
taught courses in Greek and Latin literature as well as in Greek art, history, and
civilization. She became the author of several pioneering works on royal women of the
Hellenistic period, including Hellenistic Queens: A Study of Woman-Power in Macedonia, Seleucid Syria, and Ptolemaic Egypt (1932) and Vassal-Queens and Some Contemporary Women in the Roman Empire (1937), which have been reprinted several times and are still used in university courses. She also published many articles and reviews in British and American
journals.
Dr. Theodore Erck, a colleague at Vassar, wrote: "Grace
Macurdy was a splendid representation of that generation of emancipated women who
distinguished the faculties of American women’s colleges during the first third of the
Twentieth Century, women who spurned marriage and devoted their entire lives and their
entire energies to their chosen professions and careers."
Dr. Macurdy spent many summers traveling and doing research, in the field and in
the British Museum. During World War II, she played an active role in Greek and British war relief, for which she was awarded her the King’s Medal for Service in the Cause of
Freedom.
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