Martin Luther D’Ooge


Greek 1867-

Dean of LS&A  1889-1897

MARTIN LUTHER D'OOGE was born at Zonnemaire, in the Province of Zeeland, the Netherlands, July 17, 1839, son of Leonard and Johanna (Quintus) D'Ooge. On the paternal side his ancestry is Huguenot, and on his mother's side he is descended from a Holland family in which the men have, for several generations, followed the profession of teaching. He came to the United States at an early age, and received his first education in the public schools of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was prepared for college. In 1857 he entered the University of Michigan and was graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1862. In 1863 he was appointed principal of the Ann Arbor High School, and held that position for two years. In 1865 he entered Union Theological Seminary, New York, to prepare for the ministry, but after two years' study he was called to the University of Michigan as Assistant Professor of Ancient Languages. After one year be became Acting Professor of the Greek Language and Literature, in place of Professor Boise resigned, and from that position was advanced to the full professorship in 1870. At this time he obtained leave of absence for two years to study abroad, which period he spent at the universities of Berlin and Leipzig, receiving the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the latter in 1872. He then resumed the duties of his professorship and has continued in active service till the present time, with the exception of the year 1886-1887, when he was absent on leave while serving as Director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.  From 1889 to 1897 he served as Dean of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts. He is a member of the American Philological Association, of which he was president in 1884. Two books have appeared under his editorship: "The Oration of Demosthenes on the Crown" (1875) and the "Antigone of Sophocles" (1884). He is an occasional contributor to "The American Journal of Philology," "The Nation," and " The Classical Journal." The degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him by the University of Michigan in 1889, and the degree of Doctor of Letters by Rutgers College in 1901. He was married July 31, 1873, to Mary Worcester.

Burke A. Hinsdale and Isaac Newton Demmon, History of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1906) Page 244-245.


[This Memorial was presented to the Senate, on behalf of the Committee by Professor Demmon]

By James B. Angell, Isaac N. Demmon, Campbell Bonner

The Michigan Alumnus, November 1915, Page 94

In February last the Senate was doubly bereaved in the death of two of its prominent members; and we are now again called together to take note of a similar visitation of sorrow. In quick succession three of our eminent men have been snatched from us without warning, and we stand amazed and humbled in the presence of an invisible hand. In the case of the oldest of these your Committee would ask the adoption of the following memorandum.

          Martin Luther D'Ooge was a native of Holland, having been born at Zonnemaire, in the province of Zeeland, July 17, 1839, the eldest son of Leonard and Johanna (Quintus) D'Ooge. His father was of Huguenot descent, while his mother came of a Dutch family in which the men had for several generations followed the profession of teaching. About the middle of the last century there was a wave of migration from the Netherlands to this country, and large numbers settled in western Michigan where they became an influential element in the development of this State. The D'Ooges joined in this movement, but tarried for a few years in the Hudson Valley, chiefly at Albany. About 1850 they made their way to the newly settled country beyond Grand Rapids, where they suffered for a time their full share of the privations of pioneer life. The father was by occupation a painter and decorator, and before long his skill found ample recognition in the growing city of Grand Rapids which now became the permanent residence of the family. The son worked with his father, meantime getting such training as the rather primitive High School of the town could give him. In 1857 he was able to enter the scientific course at Ann Arbor. He made up his preparatory Greek by private study and was graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1862. Being an apt student in the languages, he helped himself through college in the later years by private tutoring in the classics. This facility led to his appointment on graduation as Classical teacher in the Ann Arbor High School, and from 1863 to 1865 be was Principal of' the School.

His parents had designed him for the ministry, and in 1865- he proceeded to the Union Theological Seminary in New York to complete his preparation therefore. Immediately after the Civil War the University grew rapidly in numbers, and by 1867 it became necessary to add another teacher of the Classics. The young theological student was summoned to this position by his former professors, and he obeyed the call. This step provedto be the turning point in his career. He entered upon the work with enthusiasm and success. Before the first year was past the Professor of Greek accepted a call to the University of Chicago, and the charge of the department fell to the Assistant Professor  Two years later, at the age of thirty-one, he was made full professor, with leave of absence to pursue studies at the German Universities. At the end of two years he won his Doctorate in Classical Philology under the renowned Curtius at Leipzig. He now returned to his Chair at the University and began his long career of forty years as head of the Greek -Department. In 1912, just fifty years after his graduation, he asked to be retired on the Carnegie foundation and became Professor Emeritus.

The remaining three years of his life were given up largely to travel in Europe and on this continent. The last winter was spent on our southern coast and in Cuba. He returned to Ann Arbor in the spring and seemed to be especially delighted through the summer to be with his books and his friends amid the old surroundings.  His intellectual activities remained undimmed, and his outlook on the future steady and serene. He passed his last evening in his usual cheerful vein; but shortly after midnight he was seized with angina pectoris, and within a brief half hour he was gone. This was on the morning of September 12. The news spread rapidly throughout the city, carrying universal sorrow and regret. All alike felt a personal loss in that this familiar and gracious figure had passed from earth.

Though early diverted from his young life's aim in the Church, he never wavered in his religious faith nor in his belief in the Church as a Divine institution. In 1878 he was formally ordained to the ministry of the Congregational Church and continued to preach occasionally in the pulpits of Ann Arbor and neighboring cities. Only the last summer he occupied the pulpit of the Methodist Church in this city of a Sunday morning in the absence of the pastor. He was an excellent speaker, and though foreign born, had command of a fine English style. He would doubtless have become a preacher of note had not his scholarly ambitions and tastes detained him in the quieter walks of Academic life.

His University career was distinctly noteworthy. He was thoroughly devoted to his Alma Mater in all her interests. As a teacher he was prompt and energetic. He always gave himself a full program of courses and maintained a high ideal of scholarship in his classes. He was genial and sympathetic without being over-indulgent, and he thus won the grateful affection of his pupils, now scattered over the entire country. From many of these have come expressions of deep sorrow at the news of his death.

He was a hard student and an able writer: but the demands of his classroom were paramount. He found time to prepare an edition of Demosthenes on the Crown (1875) and of the Antigone of Sophocles (1884), both of which were favorably received among scholars. About 1900 while spending a year on leave at Athens he projected what was to be his principal literary work, a treatise on the Acropolis of Athens. For the next few years he devoted his leisure to this study and completed it in 1908. He also was an occasional contributor to the journals in his special field. 

          He was an active member of the American Philological Association and its President in 1884. He formed a number of warm and lasting friendships in this group of scholars. In 1886-1887 he was Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. From 1889 to 1897 he was Dean of the Literary Department of this University, and was frequently entrusted with other responsibilities by the President.  The University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1889, and in 1901 Rutgers College gave him the Degree of Doctor of Letters.

In 1873 he was married to Miss Mary Worcester, of Auburndale, Massachusetts. Through all the intervening years to the dav of his death she was his constant companion and wise helper in all their plans and aspirations. Their home on Washtenaw Avenue has long been noted for its social refinement and catholic hospitality. To this noble woman in these days of her loneliness the Senate extends warmest assurances of its esteem and sympathy and honor.