1930s Students

Pitt Players


Rose Marie Demestichas (BA class of 1933) was the President of the Women’s Self-Governing Assembly. After earning her BA, she completed an MA in English at Pitt and then went to work for the Public Housing Authority in Pittsburgh, where she served as a manager of Terrace Village. In 1933 she published an essay, “Why I Go to College,” for a collection of essays on “What College Means” published in the Pittsburgh Record (the alumni magazine).

Robert C. MachesneyRobert C. Machesney (BA class of 1932) was the editor of the Pitt Weekly, a student-run magazine that followed the Courant. After graduation, Machesney became an instructor in Journalism at Pitt and was hired by Agnes Lynch Starrett as an adviser to student publications. He left the University in 1942 to take an appointment in Military Intelligence with the War Department. In 1933, he also published an essay on his college experience, “After Four Years,” in the Pittsburgh Record.  

Maxine Garrison (BA class of 1934) served as the managing editor of the Pitt News and as President of Xylon, the women’s honorary journalistic fraternity. She later went on to a successful career as a feature writer for the Pittsburgh Press. In 1934, she wrote an essay describing what it was like to go to class in the Cathedral of Learning while it was still under construction. “Symphony of Noise” was published in the Pittsburgh Journal.  

Gladys Schmitt

Gladys Schmitt (1909-1972) received her BA from our department in 1932. After graduation, she worked as an editor for Scholastic Magazine, first in Pittsburgh and then in New York. In 1942, she returned to Pittsburgh andjoinedthe faculty at Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech). In 1942, she also published her first novel, The Gates ofAulis, which won the Dial Press Award for new fiction. Her second novel, David the King (1946) was a Literary Guild selection and a best-seller, both a critical and commercial success. Her other novels include Alexandra (1947), Confessors of the Name (a Literary Guild selection, 1952), The Persistent Image (1955), A Small Fire (1957), Rembrandt (a Literary Guild selection, 1961), Electra (1965), and The Godforgotten (1972). She published two children’s books—The Heroic Deeds of Beowulf, Retold and Boris, The Lopsided Bear—and a book of poems, Sonnets for an Analyst (1978). Schmitt attracted students and colleagues to CMU and in 1968, with Jerry Costanzo, she founded the CMU Creative Writing Program and established an undergraduate Writing major. 

Murrel Wynn-Jones (BA 1931) was a well-known Pittsburgh artist.

Marie Hochmuth NicholsMarie Hochmuth Nichols (1908-1978) became an important figure in the fields of speech, rhetoric and communication. She received her BA from our department in 1931 and her MA in 1936. She completed her PhD at the University of Wisconsin (1945). She taught at Mount Mercy College for Women (1935-39) and then at the University of Illinois from 1939 until her retirement in 1976. Nichols served as the editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech (1963-65) and as President of the Speech Association of America (1969). In the 1950s, she was one of the first to write on Kenneth Burke and I.A. Richards as fundamental figures in the “new rhetoric.” (See, for example: “Kenneth Burke and the ‘New Rhetoric’,” Quarterly Journal of Speech (January 1952.)  With her former teacher, Wayland Maxfield Parrish, she published American Speeches (1969). Her most important book is Rhetoric and Criticism.

John GerberJohn Gerber (BA 1929; MA 1932) taught in our department as an instructor from 1931-1936, when he left to pursue a PhD at the University of Chicago (1941). In 1944, he joined the faculty at the University of Iowa, where he taught American literature and helped to establish and direct the Communication Skills program. Gerber went on to a distinguished career at Iowa, serving as department head from 1961-1976. At his retirement in 1976, he was the M.F. Carpenter Professor of English. He came out of retirement to chair the English department at SUNY-Albany until 1984. Gerber helped to define English for the post-war American university. He served as the President of NCTE in 1955. He was a founding member of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and served as its Chair in 1950. He served on the MLA Executive Council (1972-75) and as Chair of ADE (1964). He was the head of Project English (1964-65) for the US Department of Education. He was the first recipient of the MLA/ADE Francis Andrew March Award (1984) for distinguished service to the profession. He wrote on Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville and Twain. He chaired the editorial board for the Iowa-California edition of the works of Mark Twain and edited the volume, Tom Sawyer. After his retirement, he published a history of the University of Iowa and a history of its English department.     

Charles Crow (BA 1930; MA 1931; PhD 1948) would have a long, distinguished and influential career in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh. We will provide a full biography of Charles Crow in the 1950s Faculty page.  

Robert C. AlbertsRobert C. Alberts (BA 1930) is the author of the bicentennial history, Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh, 1787-1987. Alberts began to write after retiring as a Vice-President of the public relations firm, Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove. He specialized in 18th century American history. His books include The Most Extraordinary Adventures of Major Robert Stobo (1965), The Golden Voyage:  The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804 (1970), The Good Provider:  H.J. Heinz and His 57 Varieties (1973), Benjamin West: A Biography (1978), and The Shaping of the Point:  Pittsburgh’s Renaissance Park (1980).

Rachel MacMaster Moodie (Lowrie)—BA 1933; MA 1946—taught for 30 years in the English department at Iowa State University, from 1949-1979. She taught first year composition throughout her career; she also developed a course in fiction writing, and she taught advanced courses in Romantic and Victorian British literature. In 1975, she was named “Teacher of the Year.”   

Helen Louise McGuffieHelen Louise McGuffie (MA 1937). McGuffie spent time at Oxford and completed her PhD at Columbia. In 1947, she joined the faculty at her alma mater, Bethany College, where she had a long career (1947-1983) including two terms as department chair: 1954-74 and 1977-80. In her honor, the college established the Helen Louise McGuffie Lecture fund, which brings writers and scholars annually to campus for a lecture or a reading. McGuffie was the author of essays and reviews and a book, Samuel Johnson in the British Press, 1749-1784: A Chronological Checklist (1976). In World War II she served with the Coast Guard and remained with the Reserves until 1975, when she retired at the rank of Commander.

Ernest N. Dilworth (MA 1937) completed his PhD at Columbia and joined the faculty at Lehigh University, where he taught for 28 years, retiring in 1977. He was the author of The Unsentimental Journey of Lawrence Stern and, for the Twayne’s English authors series, Walter Savage Landor. He edited and translated Voltaire’s Philosophical Letters and Boileau’s Selected Criticism. He served as a Secretary of the AAUP.

Charles W.L. Foreman (BA 1935, MA 1938) taught speech and theater courses at Pitt after his graduation before serving as a Captain in the US Army in the European Theater. After the war, Foreman joined UPS and rose to Senior Vice President. As an administrator and trustee of the UPS Foundation, he played a major role in the establishment of endowments at several major research universities. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Independent College Funds of America, now the Foundation for Independent Higher Education. FIHE, with the Council of Independent Colleges, gives an annual Charles Foreman Leadership Award to a college president or corporate trustee. Foreman served as a trustee and chairman of strategic planning at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, where he helped to revise the liberal arts curriculum, and where he was given an honorary doctorate in 1989.   

Robert Musser BrownRobert Musser Brown (BA 1939) became Senior Vice-President of Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove, a large Pittsburgh advertising agency. In 1960 he published his first and only novel, Brother, Which Drummer? (Harcourt, Brace & Co), a business novel about a sales manager pushing his way to the top. The New York Times reviewer said that it was “a tour de force, a ‘problem novel that is also a parable for our time.” In an interview with Pitt, the alumni magazine, Brown, who recalled both Percival Hunt and Edwin Peterson, said, “I knew I had to write a novel.” 

Wilson Borland  (MA 1930) became the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Housing Association and responsible for public housing in the Hill District.

Milton Lehman (BA 1939) was given a citation by the U.S. Army for distinguished journalism. He published essays and articles in the Saturday Evening Post, Life Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Colliers, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine. He had a long career as a writer for U.S. government office of Health, Education and Welfare, where he was given a distinguished award for service. He was the author The High Man:  the Life of Robert Goddard (1963).   


1930s PhD Graduates

Richard MurphyRichard Murphy (PhD 1939). Murphy was a radio announcer for KDKA when he joined the department as an Instructor of Public Speaking in 1927. He taught public speaking and coached the Pitt Debate Team. Murphy left in 1935-36 to do graduate work at Cornell. When he returned, his position was not renewed, some believed because of his political leanings, although Murphy would not confirm this. The failure to renew his contract, however, was the last straw for his mentor, Wayland Maxfield Parrish, who left for the University of Illinois. Murphy completed his PhD in our department in 1939 with a dissertation on “Alexander Smith: Man of Letters.” He taught at the University of Colorado before joining Parrish at Illinois in 1945, where he had a long and successful career (1945-1971). Murphy published widely in the areas of speech and communication. A portion of his dissertation (“Alexander Smith on the Art of the Essay”) is published in If By Your Art (1948), the tribute volume to Percival Hunt.

Thomas Matthews Pearce, Jr. (1902-1986). Thomas Matthews Pearce (BA Montana, 1923) received his MA (1925) and PhD (1930) from our department (with a dissertation on “Marlowe’s Tragedie of Dido in Relation to Its Latin Source”). He joined the English department at the University of New Mexico in 1924, where he taught for 37 years until his retirement in 1964.  He chaired the UNM department from 1929-1951. His contributions to the state were celebrated when Governor Apodaca proclaimed May 8th, 1976, “T.M. Pearce Day.” He published essays on Shakespeare, Marlowe and Beowulf, but he is best known for his work on the literature of the American Southwest. He published three books on the Santa Fe writer, Mary Austin:  The Beloved House (1940), Mary Hunter Austin (1965), and The Mary Austin Letters (1979). Pearce served as the first editor of The New Mexico Quarterly and was one of the founders of the New Mexico Folklore Society. His other books include American in the Southwest; Southwest Heritage: A Literary History with Bibliography (with Mabel Major and Rebecca S. Smith); Southwesterners Write; Signature of the Sun; Oliver La Farge; Lane of the Llano; Stories of the Spanish Southwest (a bilingual edition); and New Mexico Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. 

Isaac Clayton Keller. (PhD 1932; diss: “Thomas Buchanan Read”). Keller took a position at California State Teachers College, now California University of PA.  

Clarke OlneyClarke Olney. (PhD 1933; diss: “Benjamin Robert Haydon as a Figures in the Romantic Movement in English Literature”). Olney went to the University of Miami in 1938, where he achieved the rank of Professor. Later, he moved to the University of Georgia. 

Georgia Gantt-Winn. (PhD 1939; diss: “Works of Henry Blake Fuller”). Gantt-Winn became the Chair of the English department at Sul Ross College, Alpine, Texas, where a scholarship bears her name.

Katherine Gillette Blyley (PhD 1937; diss: “Marietta Holley”). Blyley taught at Skidmore, at Thiel, and then became English department chair, Dean, and first woman President (1947-1958) at Keuka College, Canandaigua, NY.

Russell Sedden Burkhart (PhD 1935; diss: “The Syntax of Place in Old English Prose”). Burkhart taught at Ball State Teachers College.


Other 1930s PhDs

Wolfe, Don Marion. “Milton and the Theory of Democracy” (1930)

Berry, Iona Richmond. “Barclay’s Ship of Fools as a Reflection of Early Sixteenth Century England” (1931)

Anderson, Mary R. “Harriet Martineau, a Representative Didactic Writer of the Nineteenth Century” (1932)

Schnurer, Clara. “Mrs. Gaskell’s Fiction” (1932)

Woodall, Allen Earl. “William Joseph Snelling, 1804-1848:  A Review of His Life and Writings” (1932)

Wright, John Ernest. “William Hale White (Mark Rutherford)” (1932)

Graham, Thomas Emerson. “Newman’s Ideal of Saintliness”  (1933)

Stebbins, Henry Martin. “The Soldier in the English Novel”  (1934)

Hamilton, Carson Crandall. “Wordsworth’s Decline in Poetic Power: The Conflict of the Supreme Power” (1935)

McKerahan, Annabelle Livingston. "Paradise Lost: A Sublimation of the Philosophical Concepts Found in Milton’s Prose" (1936)

Eckler, Eric Alexander. “Materials for the Study of William Hazlitt as a Social Critic”  (1937)

Bailey, Mary Matilda. “Mark Twain and the Fine Arts” (1938)

Fisher, Henry Clayton. “Realism and Morality in English Fiction up to 1750” (1938)