William Wistar Comfort

William Wistar Comfort (1874 – December 24, 1955) was president of Haverford College.

William Wistar Comfort, at Haverford College, 1918


He was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania and raised a Quaker. He graduated from Haverford College in 1894 and from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in 1902. His thesis was titled: “The Development of the Character Types in the French Chansons de Geste.”[1] He was a polymath, and translated The Quest of the Holy Grail, wrote on Arthurian Romances among such topics as Quakerism, children's literature, and the poet William Cowper.[1]

Comfort served as President of Haverford College from 23 years, from 1917 to 1940, and was succeeded by journalist Felix Morley.[2]

Comfort continued to teach until 1953, and died at his home located on the campus in 1955. He was survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Mary Foles, and five children,[3][4] and several grandchildren, among them, the mathematician bearing his very same name.[5][6] His papers are held at Haverford.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "William Wistar Comfort Papers 1867-1941". Haverford College. Retrieved 17 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ (3 April 1940). Felix Morley Named Head of Haverford, The New York Times
  3. ^ (25 December 1955). William Comfort, Educator, 81, Dies, The New York Times
  4. ^ (11 May 1965). Mrs. William Comfort, The New York Times (his widow died in 1965.)
  5. ^ An interview with W. Wistar Comfort
  6. ^ William Wistar Comfort (1933-2016): In Memoriam, speial issue of Topology and its Applications, Edited by A.W. Hager, Jan van Mill, Volume 259 (1 June 2019)

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