Henry Rudolph Immerwahr
Henry Rudolph Immerwahr (1916-2013) was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). As a result of Nazi policies, he left Germany and attended the University of Florence in Italy (1934-38), where he received a Dottore in Lettere. While there he was offered a fellowship at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. It was during his year in Athens (1938-39) that he met Sara “Sally” Anderson, the fellow student and archaeologist who was to become his wife. From Athens, he immigrated to the US and entered the graduate program at Yale, where he received his PhD in 1943. He became a US citizen at the same time, and then served in the US Army for two years, during which time he and Sally married. After the war, he spent a year at Harvard and then taught for ten years at Yale. He joined the UNC faculty in 1957, was promoted to full Professor in 1963, and named Alumni Distinguished Professor of Greek in 1975. Two years later he and Sally both retired in order to return to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, where he served as Director and she as Senior Research Fellow. In 1982 the couple returned to Chapel Hill, where they continued for many years to be active in department affairs.
Throughout his years at UNC Immerwahr was a stimulating teacher, a thoughtful administrator, and a much-valued mentor and friend. He taught graduate seminars ranging from Homer and Greek lyric to Herodotus, Thucydides, and Greek epigraphy. He helped restructure the graduate program in philology and established the curriculum requirements that shaped the program for many years. He played a particularly important role in revitalizing the graduate track in Greek. In 1963 he and Kenneth Reckford directed the first MA theses in Greek in over a decade, and two years later Immerwahr’s student William C. West was the first UNC student to receive the PhD with a dissertation on a Greek topic. Immerwahr went on to direct 15 further theses and dissertations. He also worked with his wife Sally and Emmy Richardson to establish the graduate program in Classical Archaeology.
When Immerwahr came to UNC, he had already begun to establish his reputation as a scholar of Herodotus, with two substantial articles published in TAPA (“Historical Action in Herodotus,” 1954; “Aspects of Historical Causation in Herodotus,” 1956). He had also started work on his corpus of Attic vase inscriptions, a much-needed project that had been commissioned in the 1940s by Benjamin Meritt at the Institute for Advanced Study. He continued his work in both areas during his years at UNC. His work on Herodotus climaxed with his book Form and Thought in Herodotus (APA Philological Monographs, 1966), which remains one of the classic studies of that writer. His epigraphic studies led to a number of articles during his time on the faculty, but came to full fruition in his retirement, with his book Attic Script: A Survey (Clarendon Press, 1990) and the online Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions. He continued an active program of research and publication throughout his retirement, with his final article (“Hipponax and the Swallow Vase,” AJP 131 (2010) 573-87) appearing in the 95th year of his life.