1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/March, Francis Andrew

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MARCH, FRANCIS ANDREW (1825–  ), American philologist and educationalist, was born on the 25th of October 1825 in Millbury, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1845 at Amherst, where his attention was turned to the study of Anglo-Saxon by Noah Webster. He was a teacher at Swanzey, New Hampshire, and at the Leicester Academy, Massachusetts, in 1845–1847, and attempted the philological method of teaching English “like Latin and Greek,” later described in his Method of Philological Study of the English Language (1865); at Amherst in 1847–1849; at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1852–1855; and in 1855 became a tutor at Lafayette College, where he became adjunct professor of belles-lettres and English literature in 1856, and professor of English language and comparative philology—the first chair of the kind established—in 1857. He lectured on constitutional and public law and Roman law in 1875–1877, and also taught subjects as diverse as botany and political economy. In 1907 he became professor emeritus. At Lafayette he introduced the first carefully scientific study of English in any American college, and in 1870 published A Comparative Grammar of the Anglo-Saxon Language, in which its Forms are Illustrated by Those of the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic, Old Saxon, Old Friesic, Old Norse and Old High German, and An Anglo-Saxon Reader; he was editor of the “Douglass Series of Christian Greek and Latin Classics,” to which he contributed Latin Hymns (1874); he was chairman of the Commission of the State of Pennsylvania on Amended Orthography; and was consulting editor of the Standard Dictionary, and in 1879–1882 was director of the American readers for the Philological Society’s (New Oxford) Dictionary. He was president of the American Philological Association in 1873–1874 and in 1895–1896, of the Spelling Reform Association after 1876, and of the Modern Language Association in 1891–1893. Among American linguistic scholars March ranks with Whitney, Child and Gildersleeve; and his studies in English, though practically pioneer work in America, are of undoubted value. His article “On Recent Discussions of Grimm’s Law” in the Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association for 1873 in large part anticipated Verner’s law. With his son, Francis Andrew March, jun. (b. 1863), adjunct-professor of modern languages in 1884–1891 and subsequently professor of English literature at Lafayette, he edited A Thesaurus Dictionary of the English Language (1903).

See Addresses in Honor of Professor Francis A. March, LL.D., L.H.D., delivered at Easton, Pennsylvania, on the 24th of October 1895.