Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pasadena Professor Eminent in Esperanto

Can Throop spell "instructor"?
The January 3, 1908 Los Angeles Herald made note of an appointment at the Throop Institute, an educational institution founded seventeen years before and far better known by the name that it would adopt twelve years later. The article made a particular note that the new professor of modern languages was an expert on Esperanto, an association that would be repeated over the years, despite that Professor Du Poncet seems to have made little mark, in or out of the Esperanto movement.

Du Poncet wouldn’t be at the Throop Institute for long. According to news reports he left there for the University of Redlands after one year, and then was off to teaching high school students in Utah a year after that. The Herald gets his name slightly wrong, spelling it “Du Ponset,” which made searching tricky.

The educational institution named in the Herald is now the California Institute of Technology, it was founded by Amos G. Throop and was initially named for him.

Special to The Herald.
PASADENA, Jan. 2— The post of instructor of languages at Throop institute is to be filled by Prof. E. S. Du Poncet, late of the U. S. Normal School. He takes the place made vacant by the withdrawal of Prof. Paul Boenchke, who has gone to Berkeley.

Prof. Du Poncet is an eminent authority on the new language known as Esperanto and has written a book on the subject. It is now in the hands of publishers. He is of Spanish-French extraction and was educated in the schools of Europe and the United States.
In the headline, the Herald actually put INSCTRUCTOR (that’s another typo corrected).

Professor Edwin Stanton Du Poncet was born on December 31, 1872 in Spain (some sources give 1875, but his WWI draft registration card lists 1872 in his own handwriting). He received an A.B. at Ozark College, and a further A.B. and A.M. at the University of Missouri. (The A.B. and A.M. are the more familiar B.A. and M.A.), with difference sources suggesting a variety of places for his Ph.D. The Throop Institute (i.e.: Caltech) says Central University and Heidelberg, while the University of Northern Colorado say Grenoble, noting that he had been a graduate student “at the Universities of Missouri, Michigan, Heidelberg, Buenos Aires, and Grenoble.” The University of Northern Colorado gives a number of past appointments, without noting a specific order or duration.

Who’s Who and Why in After-War Education, published in 1921, notes as one of his accomplishments a “3-act play performed in Eng, French, Spanish, German, Latin, Esperanto.” He might not have been the only Du Poncet involved in Esperanto. In 1907, there is a reference to a Professor Ralph Du Poncet, head of the Department of Languages at the University of Utah, teaching a class on Esperanto. They don’t seem to be the same person, although the 1907 appointment of Professor Du Poncet does seem to be in Utah.

After a great number of academic positions, Du Poncet seems to have settled down at the Huron College in South Dakota. He does not seem to have ever married; in the 1920 and 1940 censuses, he’s listed as single. His book on Esperanto doesn’t seem to have made print. Although he has several works listed in copyright directories, a search of those and library catalogs show no books about Esperanto, despite that he seems to be associated with it from 1907 onward. Nor does he seem to have made any impact on the national or international movement.

In the first decade of the twentieth century, language professors at both the Throop Institute and at the University of Southern California were interested in Esperanto. Professor Du Poncet only spent about two years in California. He didn’t establish an Esperanto tradition for Caltech, nor does it seem to have encouraged much interest in Esperanto in the other places he went.
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