Bernard Mann Peebles (1906-1976)
A respected Classical scholar, Bernard Peebles was born in Norfolk, Virginia on January 1, 1906. After briefly attending Hampden-Sydney College, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Greek and Latin from the University of Virginia in 1926. At Harvard University, he received a Master’s degree in 1928 and a Ph.D. in 1940. From 1932 to 1934, he studied at the American Academy in Rome as a Fellow in the School of Classical Studies. He taught Greek and Latin at several universities, including the University of Virginia, Fordham University, Harvard University, and St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.
In 1942 Peebles entered the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant and a chief clerk for the MFAA in both the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operations. He was one of the earliest members of the Section, beginning his service in Sicily, several months before the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland. While working at MFAA headquarters in Palermo, Peebles discovered that the eighteenth-century archives of Philip V were being used by a local vendor as wrapping paper. In recognition of his military service, Peebles was awarded the Bronze Star and the British Empire medal.
Peebles returned to the United States in 1945 and resumed his career at St. John’s College. In 1948 he began a nearly thirty-year career in the Department of Greek and Latin at the Catholic University of America. He was named full professor in 1954 and served as chairman of the department from 1962 to 1970. His research specialized in Patristics (the study of the Church Fathers) and Roman and Medieval literature. In addition to his lectures, Peebles worked as editor of The Fathers of the Church series from 1946 to 1968, and was editorial director of the publication until 1975. He was also editor of Traditio, a journal of ancient and medieval history and thought, from 1952 until 1973, when he was named editor emeritus. Following his retirement from the university in 1970, Peebles continued to lecture and write on classical studies.
Bernard Peebles was tragically shot and killed in a robbery attempt outside his home in Washington, D.C. on November 22, 1976.
Photo courtesy of the Walter Gleason Collection, The Monuments Men Foundation Collection, the National WWII Museum, New Orleans, LA.