Education: The Man with 2,000 Daughters

A restless man—that was the way friends on the Harvard faculty described William Allan Neilson. He was 48 when he left his professorship of English at Harvard to become president of Smith College, in 1917. Said a colleague: "I'll give Smith three years of Neilson at the outside."

The prophecy was off by 19 years, but the error was understandable. Blue-eyed, pixie-faced, sharp-bearded William Allan Neilson had wandered far and frequently since he first began to teach. His father was the village schoolmaster at Doune, in Perthshire, Scotland. One day, when his father was...

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