William Carey Poland (1846-1929), professor of classics and art, was born in Goffstown, New Hampshire, on January 25, 1846. He graduated from Brown in 1868 and was then principal of Worcester Academy for a year and a half. His career at Brown began as instructor of Greek in 1870, continued as instructor of Latin and Greek from 1871 to 1875, assistant professor of Latin and Greek from 1876 to 1889, and associate professor of Greek from 1889 to 1892. In 1891-92 he was annual director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and on his return was named the first professor of the history of art at Brown. He also served as the curator of the Museum of Classical Archaeology from 1889 to 1893. In the year 1875-76 he studied at the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig. He was hired by Mrs. John Carter Brown to teach Latin to her sons, John Nicholas and Harold, and in 1878 was given a leave of absence from his duties at Brown to travel to Europe with the Browns to tutor his young charges. His leave was extended to 1881 so he might prepare them for college. They entered Brown in 1881 and 1882.
He was well liked by his students, who also took advantage of him. Herbert F. Davison ’09 had recollections at Poland’s art class in upper Manning Hall, where doors flapped in the draft from the big outside door below and also from the exodus of a number of Poland’s students as he darkened the room for the purpose of showing lantern slides of great art. Finally the students felt sorry for this behavior and to show Poland their affection, presented him with a silver loving cup. Davison recalled that Poland was deeply touched, yet managed to make “the speech of a Christian gentleman to a band of raw youngsters of plastic age whose lives cannot fail to have been moulded by it.” He continued as professor of the history of art until his retirement in 1915. He was president of the Rhode Island School of Design from 1896 to 1907. He lectured on the history of art at Boston University in 1901 and 1902, was secretary of the Commission of Colleges in New England on Admission Examinations from 1886 to 1905, and prepared the “Necrology of Brown University,” which appeared in the Providence Journal annually on Commencement day, from 1888 to 1904. He died in Providence on March 19, 1929. Some time later his family donated the “William Carey Poland Collection,” a lending library of reproductions of significant art works, which for many years rented pictures to students to hang in their dormitory rooms.