Price, Ira Maurice, 1856-1939

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Professor of Semitic languages and literatures, University of Chicago.

From the description of Papers, 1885-1940. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52248355

Ira Maurice Price (1856-1939) was a professor of Semitic Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. He was among the University’s original faculty. He was a leading figure in the Baptist Church.

Price was born in Granville, Ohio. He came from a farming family, though all five of his brothers distinguished themselves in academic, legal, and religious careers. Price was educated at Denison University and the Baptist Union Theological Seminary in Morgan Park, south Chicago. He taught modern and classical languages at Des Moines University and Wheaton Theological Seminary before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig in 1886. He then returned to Chicago, teaching at the Baptist Union Theological Seminary. When the Seminary left Morgan Park to be incorporated into the new University of Chicago in 1892, Price became a faculty member there, remaining until his retirement in 1925.

Price’s career in Morgan Park and at the University of Chicago was concurrent with that of University founder and president William Rainey Harper, with whom he shared an interest in Hebrew scholarship. Price’s interest in biblical history and ancient languages also brought him into contact with leading American Orientalists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, including William Hayes Ward and James Henry Breasted.

In addition to his scholarly work on Sumerian and Assyrian languages, Price published books for a broader audience on the history of the Old Testament: A Syllabus of Old Testament History, 1890; Monuments and the Old Testament, 1899; The Ancestry of Our English Bible, 1907; and The Dramatic Story of the Old Testament, 1935. These achieved widespread popularity and went through numerous editions and translations.

Price’s interest in biblical history stemmed from a personal commitment to religious education. Price was a leading figure in the Baptist Church, particularly the Baptist Young Peoples Union and the International Sunday School Association. He was secretary of the Association’s Lesson Committee between 1908 and 1914.

Along with his wife, Elizabeth, Price enjoyed the outdoors at their summer home in Olympia, Washington. He climbed Mount Rainier at the age of 65 and was remembered by his friends as an amateur naturalist with an interest in ferns.

From the guide to the Price, Ira M. Papers, 1875-1964, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Townsend, Henry S. Letter : Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, to I[ra] M[aurice] Price, 1883 Sept. 22. Texas Christian University
creatorOf Price, Ira M. Papers, 1875-1964 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Townsend, Henry S. Letter : Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, to I[ra] M[aurice] Price, 1883 Sept. 22. University of Chicago Library
creatorOf Price, Ira Maurice, 1856-1939. Papers, 1885-1940. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn American Institute of Sacred Literature. Records, 1880-1943 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Institute of Sacred Literature corporateBody
associatedWith Baptist Theological Union (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Baptist Young People's Union of America. corporateBody
associatedWith International Sunday School Lesson Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Townsend, Henry S. person
associatedWith University of Chicago corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Biblical scholars
Sunday schools


Birth 1856

Death 1939



Ark ID: w63n2hmb

SNAC ID: 713417