WECTER, DIXON (1906–1950). Dixon Wecter, educator and historian, was born in Houston on January 12, 1906, the son of John Joseph and Eugenia (Dixon) Wecter. He was valedictorian of the high school graduating class of Colorado City in 1921 and at the age of fifteen entered Baylor University, where he received an A.B. degree in 1925. He took a master's degree at Yale in 1926 and was one of thirty-two Rhodes Scholars in 1928, identifying himself with Merton College of Oxford. Illness forced him to return to the United States in 1930. He returned to Yale and received his doctorate in 1936. Wecter began his teaching career in 1933 as an instructor at the University of Denver. The following year he joined the faculty of the University of Colorado, and in 1939 he became professor of American literature at the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1942–43 he held a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1945 he became a visiting professor of American history at the University of Sydney, Australia. In 1946 and 1947 he was lecturer at the University of Chicago, and in 1949 the state department employed him on a cultural mission to South America. At Los Angeles, Wecter was associated with the Henry E. Huntington Library and served as chairman of its permanent research staff from 1946 to 1949. At this time he became the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at the University of California at Berkeley. As a social historian, Wecter published widely during his lifetime in the Atlantic Monthly, The Saturday Review of Literature, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and the New York Times. His books include The Saga of American Society (1937),Edmund Burke and His Kinsmen (1939), The Hero in America (1941), and When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1944), for which he won the Houghton Mifflin Life-in-America Prize. He also received the Commonwealth Club's "Gold Medal for Literary Achievement" for the Age of the Great Depression (1948). He served as associate editor of The Literary History of the United States and as literary editor of the Mark Twain estate from 1946 until the time of his death. He edited Mark Twain's letters to Mrs. Fairbanks in 1949 and The Love Letters of Mark Twain in 1950; he left an unfinished volume, Sam Clemens of Hannibal, to be published posthumously (1952). Baylor University awarded him the Litt.D. in 1945, and Rockford College granted him the LL.D. in 1950. Wecter died on June 24, 1950, after having delivered the centennial address for the California Library Association. He was buried in Denver and was survived by his wife, Elizabeth (Farrar) Wecter, whom he had married on December 28, 1937.
Current Biography (1944). Directory of American Scholars (New York: Bowker, 1942-). Stanley Kunitz, ed., Twentieth Century Authors (New York: Wilson, 1942; Supplement, 1955). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 3.
Lois Smith Murray
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