Charles Homer Haskins (1870-1937), for whom the ACLS lecture series is named, was the first Chairman of the American Council of Learned Societies, 1920-26. He began his teaching career at the Johns Hopkins University, where he received the BA degree in 1887 and the PhD in 1890. He later taught at the University of Wisconsin and at Harvard, where he was Henry Charles Lea Professor of Medieval History at the time of his retirement in 1931, and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1908 to 1924. He served as president of the American Historical Association and was a founder and the second president of the Medieval Academy of America. A great American teacher, his distinction was recognized in honorary degrees from Strasbourg, Padua, Manchester, Paris, Louvain, Caen, Harvard, Wisconsin, and Allegheny College, where in 1883 he had begun his higher education at the age of thirteen.

In 1983, to recognize Haskins ‘signal contributions to the world of learning in the United States, the ACLS inaugurated a series of lectures entitled “The Life of Learning ” in his honor. Designed to pay tribute to a life of scholarly achievement, the Haskins lecture is delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Council by an eminent humanist. The lecturer is asked to reflect and to reminisce upon a lifetime of work as a scholar, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions and the dissatisfactions of the life of learning

…I have noted that when scholars in humanities and social sciences are chartered to lead focused projects, they tend to grow and serve, as I hope I did, by addressing these through their own specialties and special interests. Martin E. Marty, 2006
The humanities, as I understand them, were then an integral part of the curriculum of all colleges and even of the better secondary schools… Paul Oskar Kristeller, 1990