Heller, John Lewis (1906-1988) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Heller, John Lewis (1906-1988)

Historical Note:

John Lewis Heller (1906-88) was professor of classics (1949-75), head of the Department of Classics (1949-66), curator of the Classical Museum (1949-61), and professor emeritus (1975-88) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He was an educator and administrator perhaps best known for his contributions to understanding Linnaean plant nomenclature.

Heller was born in Riegelsville, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1906. He earned a bachelor's degree from Haverford College, Pennsylvania (1927), and went on to earn a master's degree (1928) and a Ph.D. in classics (1933) from Princeton University for his dissertation "The Lament for the Dead in Roman Folk-Custom and Literature." Prior to joining the faculty at UIUC in 1949, he held instructor positions at Wesleyan College (1928-29), Haverford College (1929-31), and Allegheny College (1933-37). He then served as assistant professor and professor (1937-49) as well as chair of the Classics Department (1947-49) at the University of Minnesota. At UIUC, he was an influential educator and administrator in the post-William A. Oldfather era. His research interests included modern soil nomenclature and Linnaean plant nomenclature as well as literary and visual treatments of the labyrinth. Publications included "Festus on Nenia" (1939), "Classical Mythology in the Systema Naturae of Linnaeus" (1945), and "Studies in Linnaean Method and Nomenclature" (1983). He was active in his profession, and his appointments included Associate Editor of Classical Philology (1943-50); Editor for Notes of the Classical Association for the Middle West and South (1943-45); Editor of Publications for the American Philological Association (1946-50, 1957); President of the Illinois Classical Conference (1961-62); and President of the American Philological Association (1965-66). He received the Founder's Medal (1986) from the Society for the History of Natural History in London.

Heller married Suzanne Wallace Finley in 1936. He retired as professor emeritus at UIUC in 1975, and he died on November 6, 1988, in Urbana, Illinois.


"HELLER, John Lewis," Database of Classical Scholars, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, accessed May 20, 2020, https://dbcs.rutgers.edu/all-scholars/8786-heller-john-lewis.

Illinois Classical Studies vol. VIII.I, ed. J. K. Newman (Spring 1983): 168, accessed May 20, 2020, https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/11851/illinoisclassica81983univ_bw_81.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=yhttps://archive.org/stream/illinoisclassica81983univ/illinoisclassica81983univ_djvu.txt.

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