Dr. Walter Harding (1917-1996)
Library Intern Demi Monachino and Milne Library’s Special Collections Librarian, Liz Argentieri, are currently hard at work creating an exhibit dedicated to one of the college’s most distinguished and influential professors, Dr. Walter Harding, who was on the Geneseo faculty from 1956 to 1983. Dr. Harding was one of the world’s leading Thoreau scholars, and we find ourselves up to our elbows in the many essays, articles, and tributes he wrote centering on Henry David Thoreau (an original Transcendentalist and the author of Walden). Among all of these scholarly documents on Thoreau, however, we are also finding some truly amazing information on Dr. Harding himself.
This man, who accomplished so much in a lifetime and amassed one of the world’s largest collection of Thoreauviana, was a large influence on not just the Geneseo community, but the world. It is somewhat hard to believe that a professor from our small college town in western New York was sent to Japan by the State Department to teach Thoreau there, and received letters from the likes of President Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Albert Einstein, just to name a few. For us, Dr. Harding is truly starting to come alive once again through these testimonials and remnants of his legacy, found in our own Milne Library and in the Thoreau Society’s Walter Harding Collection at Walden Woods, where we’ll be visiting later this spring.
Walter Harding wrote the definitive biography of Henry David Thoreau
Image courtesy of the Thoreau Society
The goal of the exhibit, which will be on display in Milne during the weeks surrounding the annual Walter Harding Lecture this fall, is to share with current Geneseo students and faculty the kind of awe and pride Dr. Harding’s life and work has inspired in us. We want to reintroduce to the community this remarkable man and scholar that many have never had the pleasure to meet (and some may have never heard of), and to open their eyes to a man who, despite having such a large global impact, always remained humble. In this presentation of Dr. Harding’s knowledge, wit, and accomplishment, we only hope that we do justice to his legacy.
~ Article written by Demi Monachino