Calderwood, Natalie

Year Inducted: 
Natalie Calderwood
  • 1966: received prestigious Jayhawker Hillteacher Award
  • 1940: award established in her name
  • Co-author of Write Now, a textbook used for freshman composition courses
  • President of the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa
  • Wrote one book review a week for the Kansas City Star

 In 1920, Mrs. Natalie Calderwood graduated from Carleton College with a BA. A year later she received her MA at Columbia University and proceeded on to Greencastle, Indiana, where she started her teaching career at DePauw University in 1921. Two years later she went to Minnesota State Teachers College in Mankato, staying there till 1928 at which time she went to their Duluth campus. In 1942 she took up her teaching career at KU.

Natalie Calderwood rose to full professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas without a PhD.  The playwright William Inge had been one of her students.  She was an innovative teacher, creatively interested in literature and enormously kind, but she also insisted upon the highest intellectual standards.  An award was established in 1940 named after her. In addition to serving on numerous university and departmental committees, including the Centennial Committee, and making numerous off-campus appearances at professional meeting, she was the local President of Phi Beta Kappa. Mrs. Calderwood has also published several articles and book reviews, is co-author of a textbook, Write Now, used for many years in the freshman English courses here at KU and elsewhere, and was nominated for the HOPE award in 1966.  She wrote an average of one book review a week for the Kansas City Star. 

In 1966 she was granted the prestigious Jayhawker Hillteacher Award.  She was instrumental in developing the Literature for Children course. When she won the Hillteacher award,  the chairman of KU ' s English department, Professor George Worth, said, " Ultimately, one has to know this grand lady in order to appreciate fully her contributions to the University over the years: I am sure that most of the thousands of students whom she has taught would warmly applaud her selection as a Hillteacher.”

 She was a consistent and unfailing person of composure, compassion, skill, and dedication.  Though all of those whose lives she touched were in her debt, it would be fair to say her example and counsel were especially valuable to women.  She was a feminist before the contemporary movement got started and was (in her quiet way) indefatigable in challenging the chauvinist assumptions of her male colleagues.  Her colleagues thought enough of her to nominate her for the Women's Hall of Fame two decades after her death.  One of her close friends, Geraldine Hammond, recollected in a poem, "She moved through rooms of life, blessed, without touching, all who, privileged, her her quiet litany.  Her wholeness and her firm sweet strength of being softened edges, curved the world into a sphere of grace."


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