HUNTER DICKINSON FARISH
BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
Montgomery Monroe and Wilcox County, Alabama
Hunter Dickinson Farish was born at Montgomery, Alabama, on September 12, 1897, a son of James Hunter and Sallie (Dickinson) Farish. He was prepared for college at Dallas Academy, Selma, and Wilcox County High School, Camden, Alabama, and was graduated at Princeton in 1922.
In 1926 he took an M.A. at Harvard and then served for several years as assistant professor of history at Westminster College, from which he returned to Harvard where he took his Ph.D. in 1936. His thesis was later published under the title. The Circuit Rider Dismounts: A Social History of Southern Methodism.
During the year 1936-37 he was instructor and tutor at Harvard, and on June 6, 1937, he was appointed director of research at Colonial Williamsburg. This organization was then passing from the stage of excavation and research in the history of Williamsburg to that of encouraging research in the whole early American field. The work of the director was largely to make grants in aid of research and to supervise the work done under them.
Dr. Farish also served as general editor of the Williamsburg Historical Studies and helped to work out the plans for the Institute of Early American History, which is sponsored jointly by Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary. In 1939 he served as visiting professor at the college.
It is difficult to imagine a better choice than Dr. Farish for this position. Endowed with all of the traditional graces of Southern society, he charmed visitors and associates alike. However, the poor health which we in Cambridge had jokingly ascribed to his inability to cope with the New England climate grew steadily worse, and at the end of 1944, he finally bowed to his physician’s insistence and, giving up the directorship, left Virginia for Alabama.
Still hopeful of serving Colonial Williamsburg, he agreed to travel and do research when his health permitted. He was survived by a brother, George B. Farish, a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and by a sister, Mrs. A. H. Howard of Montgomery in 1945.
Farish first made the acquaintance of the American Antiquarian Society when he was writing articles for the Dictionary of American Biography. He was elected to membership in October 1942, and had agreed to edit for the Proceedings our Peter Collinson letters.
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