century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

Julian W. Abernethy


Centurion, 1913–1923

Full Name Julian Willis Abernethy

Born 23 January 1853 in New Haven, Vermont

Died 1 July 1923 in Burlington, Vermont

Buried Greenmount Cemetery, Burlington, Vermont

Proposed by Edward Sandford Burgess and Charles E. Merrill

Elected 7 June 1913 at age sixty

Century Memorial

Julian Willis Abernethy was one of the teachers of English who believed that what needed to be taught was correctness and precision, knowledge of the standards, purism if that was to be the only alternative to vulgarism. It was his conviction that receptiveness to popular slang or argot might be left to the student’s own unguarded moments, that the teacher’s business was to provide the antidote for most of it, and that the writers of the very up-to-date school who discuss fiction and literature in the language of the sidewalk are not anticipating the good English of tomorrow but perpetuating the bad English of today. The man who could enter the lists with the challenge, “Why not Teach Pronunciation?” may perhaps be considered out of touch with the happy-go-lucky tendencies of the day; but this was part of his lifelong campaign for delicacy of taste, for the faultless expression which he believed to be alone compatible with clearness and strength of thought. The long list of students who, in their later years, look gratefully back to what they had gained from Dr. Abernethy’s teaching at the Adelphi and the Berkeley Institute, is the best witness to the quality of the teacher.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1924 Century Association Yearbook