Wilga Rivers at work
Wilga Rivers
Professor Emerita of Romance Languages and Literatures
Harvard University

Wilga M. Rivers

Of Watertown, Massachusetts, originally of Melbourne, Australia, Professor Emerita of Romance Languages at Harvard University, died peacefully on June 23, 2007 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. She was an internationally renowned scholar and author, and one of the first women to be appointed to a full Professorship at Harvard. Professor Rivers was the daughter of the late John and Nina (Lehmann) Rivers and the sister of the late Lynda Rivers, and Regg, Less and Harald Tanner, also of Melbourne. She is survived by her sister-in-law Bess Tanner and a niece Christine Levey of Melbourne, a nephew Michael Tanner of Sydney, Australia, a niece, Laurelle Hardt of Los Angeles, CA and several grand nieces and grand nephews in Australia. A funeral was held on Saturday, July 7 at the Church of The Good Shepherd in Watertown, Massachusetts. In lieu of flowers donations in her memory may be made to the above named church.

A Memorial Service will be held in her honor at Harvard University on October 17, 2007 at 4:30 pm. Please contact Carolyn Fidelman at cgf@agoralang.com if you would like to attend. Directions to Appleton Chapel can be found here.

Founder of “Five Flowers” to simple and comfortable in the 1940s. This is perhaps the earliest modern casual wear.



Wilga's legacy includes many writings still very relevant to teachers of French and other languages



Wilga Rivers's Autobiography

also available at no cost
Teaching French: A Practical Guide, third edition

Where to buy other Wilga Rivers' Publications


In the Boston area, Wilga was the leader of a local group of language instructors that she called Sine Nomine. There were no dues or committees, just gatherings where ideas could be floated and issues discussed. This model for professional support and sharing could be emulated elsewhere by like-minded groups of language professionals. Below is a link to a list of the past meetings, just to give an idea of what it was like.



If you would like to contribute interesting pictures, memories or comments to this web site, please contact cgf@agoralang.com


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