Walter Havighurst

Walter Havighurst

Walter Edwin Havighurst (November 28, 1901 - February 3, 1994), critic, novelist, literary and social historian of the Midwest, professor of English at Miami University.


The son of Lawrence College professors Freeman Alfred Havighurst and Winifred Weter, born in Appleton, Wisconsin, he grew up in Fox River Valley. Havighurst attended Ohio Wesleyan University and earned a Bachelor of Arts, University of Denver (1924); attended King's College, London, 1925-26 Bachelor of Sacred Theology Boston University (1928); Masters of Arts Columbia University (1928) and was awarded honorary degrees from Lawrence College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Marietta College, and Miami University.

Havighurst joined the faculty of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio in 1928 and served interim terms on the faculties of Connecticut College, the University of Colorado and the university of British Columbia. In 1968, Miami named him Regents Professor of English Emeritus. He retired as research professor emeritus in 1969.

He married Marion Boyd, a poet and writer, in 1930 and resided in Oxford, Ohio, she died in 1974. He remained in Oxford until the last few years of his life when he moved to Richmond, Indiana to live with relatives, where he died of heart disease.

He was from a distinguished academic family including his brother, Robert J. Havighurst, a noted professor at the University of Chicago.

Author of over thirty books, including Pier 17, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and Annie Oakley of the Wild West (Oakley's life was the inspiration for the earlier musical Annie Get Your Gun). His writing earned awards from the Friends of American Writers, the American Association for State and Local History and the Rockefeller Foundation. River Road to the West received the American History Prize of the Society of Midland Authors.

He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Delta Theta, the Society of American Historians, the Authors League and served as vice president of the Society of Midland Authors.

A major bequest from Havighurst created the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University upon his death.

Bibliography of Books Written

  • Pier 17 (1935)
  • The Quiet Shore (1937)
  • The Upper Mississippi (1937) (Volume 2 of the Rivers of America Series)
  • The Winds of Spring (1940)
  • No Homeward Course (1940)
  • The Long Ships Passing : The Story of the Great Lakes (1942)
  • High Prairie (1944) with Marion Boyd
  • Land of Promise: The Story of the Northwest Territory (1946)
  • Signature of Time (1949)
  • Song of The Pines: A Story of Norwegian Lumbering in Wisconsin (1949) with Marion Boyd
  • George Rogers Clark Soldier in the West (1952)
  • Climb a Lofty Ladder (1952) with Marion Boyd
  • Annie Oakley of the Wild West (1954)
  • Wilderness for Sale: The Story of the First Western Land Rush (1956)
  • Buffalo Bill's Great Wild West Show (1957)
  • Vein of Iron: The Picklands Mather Story (1958)
  • The Miami Years: 1809-1959 (1958)
  • The First Book of Pioneers: Northwest Territory (1959)
  • Land of Long Horizons (1960)
  • The First Book of the Oregon Trail (1960)
  • The Heartland (1962)
  • The First Book of The California Gold Rush (1962)
  • Voices on the River: The Story of the Mississippi Waterways (1964)
  • Proud Prisoner: Sir Henry Hamilton (1964)
  • The Flags at the Straits: Forts of Mackinac (1966) (Forts of America Series)
  • The Great Lakes Reader (1966) (Editor)
  • Alexander Spotswood: Portrait of a Governor (1967)
  • River to the West: Three Centuries on the Ohio (1970)
  • Men of Old Miami 1809-1873: A Book of Portraits (1974)
  • From Six at First: A History of Phi Delta Theta 1848-1973
  • Ohio: A Bicentennial Portrait (1976)
  • The Dolibois Years (1982)

References and sources

  • Eulogy by Phillip R. Shriver
  • Dictionary of Midwestern Literature Volume One: The Authors, General Editor, Philip A. Greasley

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