Katherine Gee Hornbeak Papers
Katherine Gee Hornbeak was Professor of English at Smith College from 1930 to 1962. She was born in Tehuacana, Texas on January 24, 1897 to Samuel L. Hornbeck and Martha Gee, one of three sisters. Her twin sister, Louise, became a professor of history and taught in Oklahoma and her sister Harriett Lee ("Hattie) (b. Aug. 1892) was a schoolteacher who taught in Panama, the Philippines and in Texas. Her father was an educator and was eventually President of Trinity University (Texas). She graduated from Trinity University in 1916 and received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1922. After her Columbia degree she taught in high schools in Cleburne, Texas and Cleveland Heights, Ohio and at the North Texas State Normal College, Denton, Texas.
Professsor Hornbeak entered Yale University where she specialized in 18th century literature and social history, in particular, the works of Samuel Richardson and Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu. Her dissertation research took her to Great Britain financed in part by a Sterling Research Fellowship. After the completion of the Ph.D. at Yale in 1930 she came to Smith College where she moved through academic ranks until she was made full professor in 1955. Professor Hornbeak was known as an exacting teacher, but one who was fair and full of praise for her students.
Among her publications are the books The Complete Letter Writer in English, 1568-1800 (1934) and Richardson's Familiar Letters and the Domestic Conduct Books (1939). Both texts were published as part of the series Smith College Studies in Modern Languages.
Professor Hornbeak retired in May 1962 and entered Smith College in the fall of that year as a special student in order to study the Greek language, a study that continued for a number of years. Her studies brought her the Julia Harwood Caverno Prize in May 1964, a prize usually awarded to a member of the junior or senior class for excellent in Greek language and literature. She gained such proficiency that she was called upon to teach Greek as a lecturer at Smith College in 1965/1966.
The retreat owned by Smith College, Juniper Lodge, Silver Lake, New Hampshire was often her summer residence during her early years at Smith and for many years she served as the chair of its executive committee. Professor Hornbeck died on February 24, 1985.