Promoting Latin in CAMWS'
First Century and Beyond
Thomas J. Sienkewicz
To a certain extent the history of Latin in American schools in CAMWS' first
century is a history of declining enrollments. When CAMWS met for the first
time in Chicago in 1905, 56 % of all students enrolled in public high schools
in the United States studied Latin. In 1948, when CAMWS met for the 44th
time, in Milwaukee, the percentage was 7.9%. By 1976, when CAMWS met for
the 72nd time, in Knoxville, the percentage dropped to an all-time low of
During the same century, Latin teachers have responded to this decline by
developing a variety of ways to promote the study of Latin in schools, in
colleges and in the community-at-large and the declining numbers have been
turned around. When CAMWS met for the 91st time, in Iowa City, in 1994, the
percentage of high school students studying Latin had increased to 1.6% (an
increase in Latin enrollments of 15.2% between 1990 and 1994).
The purpose of this presentation is to survey some of the Latin promotional
efforts made during the 20th century. The focus will be less on educational
theory and various arguments for or against the study of Latin and more on
the tools and methods that teachers have tried, successfully and unsuccessfully,
to support Latin.
Three areas, in particular, will be examined: 1.) material dealing with
the promotion of Latin in Latin Teaching Methodology textbooks of the 20th-century;
2.) formal meetings on the promotion of Latin such as the symposium of a
Classical Conference held at Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1907 on the value of
the humanist, classical education as preparation for law, theology and business;
and 3.) institutional efforts to promote the study of Latin, especially the
CAMWS Committee for the Promotion of Latin.
This presentation is intended to serve not only as a history of efforts
to promote Latin during the 20th century but also as an opportunity to adapt
these earlier efforts to the new challenges of the 21st century and of CAMWSí