Harder, Kelsie B. 1922-2007 (Kelsie Brown Harder)

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Harder, Kelsie B. 1922-2007 (Kelsie Brown Harder)


See index for CA sketch: Born August 23, 1922, in Pope, TN; died of congestive heart failure, April 12, 2007, in Potsdam, NY. Ono- mastician, educator, and author. A Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at the State University of New York at Potsdam, Harder was an expert onomastician—one who studies the origins of names. It was his own first name that inspired him to pursue this discipline. His older sister was named Elsie, and when he was born his parents just added a "K" and called him Kelsie. It still sounded like a girl's name, however, and the young Kelsie was often teased at school. A bright student who was three years ahead of his peers, he dropped out for a year because of the relentless bullying. After World War II, when he was a civilian worker in the U.S. War Department and later served in the Army, he attended Vanderbilt University on the G.I. Bill. He earned a B.A. in 1950 and an M.A. in 1951, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1954. That year Youngstown University hired him as an assistant professor of English. After making full professor there in 1960, he joined the SUNY at Potsdam faculty in 1964. Harder would remain there until his 1994 retirement. While teaching at Potsdam, Harder edited a number of books about the origins of names, such as Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names: United States and Canada (1976), Favorite Baby Names (1985), and the coedited Dictionary of American Proverbs (1992). In the even more specialized discipline of toponomy, or the study of the origins of the names of places, Harder coedited Claims to Name: Toponyms of St. Lawrence County (1992).



Chicago Tribune, April 24, 2007, Section 2, p. 12.

New York Times, April 22, 2007, p. A25.