Revilo P. Oliver File, 1943, 1946-51, 1953-57, 1959-77, 1989-90, 2000
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Brief Description: File of Classics Department Head Joseph Heller relating to Revilo Pendleton Oliver (1908-1994), professor of classics (1945-77), including book reviews and reprints of his publications (1945-75), correspondence, personal evaluation (1957), annual report (1959), and article "Marxmanship" from American Opinion regarding the assassination of President Kennedy (1964) and his prior involvement in the John Birch Society and anti-communist controversies.
Held at:
University of Illinois Archives
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 333-0798
Fax: (217) 333-2868
Email: illiarch [at]
Record Series Number: 15/6/5
Created by: Oliver, Revilo P. (Revilo Pendleton) (1910-)
Volume: 0.3 cubic feet
Acquired: 6/11/99
More information is available at
Arrangement: Chronological
Biographical Note for Oliver, Revilo P. (Revilo Pendleton) (1910-) :

Revilo Pendleton Oliver (1908-1994) was instructor (1940-42); assistant professor (1945-47); associate professor (1947-53); and professor of classics (1953-77) at the University of Illinois (UI). A UI-educated scholar of classical philology, Oliver is widely remembered as a founding member of the John Birch Society as well as for his political writing expressing fringe right-wing and white-nationalist ideas and conspiracy theories.

Oliver was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on July 7, 1908. He earned a bachelor's degree from Pomona College in 1927. At UI, he earned a master's degree (1933) and a PhD (1940) for his dissertation "Niccolo Perotti's Translation of 'The Enchiridion'" (1940), completed under Professor William Abbott Oldfather. Oliver became an instructor of classics at UI, and he was known as a talented linguist who could read eleven languages. He learned Sanskrit in high school and his first publication was an annotated translation of Mricchakatika (The Little Clay Cart) in the UI Press in 1938. During WWII, Oliver served as research analyst in the US War Department in Washington, D.C., (1942-45). Following his participation in the war effort, he was a Guggenheim post-service fellow (1946-47) as well as a Fulbright fellow (1953-54). He obtained a full professorship at UI in 1953. Oliver's academic publications include Petrarch's Prestige as Humanist (1943), "A Standard Pronunciation of Latin" (1949), Niccolo Perotti's Version of the Enchiridion of Epictetus (ed., 1954), and "The Second Medicean Ms. and the Text of Tacitus" (1976). He also published politically charged opinion pieces on contemporary issues. In 1958, he became a founding member of the John Birch Society, an anti-communist and pro-limited-government group widely viewed as extremist for its propagation of fringe and conspiracy theories. Oliver's notorious 1964 article "Marxmanship in Dallas" in the group's American Opinion magazine attracted widespread condemnation for its post-assassination claim that President John F. Kennedy was involved in a communist conspiracy. It prompted a statement from the UI Board of Trustees that distanced the university from Oliver's personal views.     

Oliver married Grace Needham in 1930. He died in Urbana, Illinois, on August 20, 1994.


Wikipedia, s.v. "Revilo P. Oliver," accessed May 20, 2020,

"OLIVER, Revilo Pendleton," Database of Classical Scholars, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, accessed May 20, 2020,

Access Restrictions: None. Collection is open to the public.
Subject Index
Classics Department
Faculty Papers
Kennedy, John F.
Genres/Forms of Material
Languages of Materials
English [eng]