Calvin Smith Brown III was born in Obion County, Tennessee on February 13, 1866. After graduating from high school, he attended Vanderbilt University, receiving his B.S. in 1888, M.S. in 1891, and D.Sc. in 1892. After his graduation from Vanderbilt, Brown studied at the Universities of Paris and Leipzig (1894-1895) and then returned to pursue a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Colorado. After completing his studies at the University of Colorado, Brown taught at Vanderbilt, served as an Instructor in the Department of Romance Languages, University of Missouri, and in 1905 would assume the post of Assistant Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Mississippi where he remained for the rest of his academic life. He taught German, French and Italian, and eventually became the chair of the Department of Modern Languages. He married Maud Morrow Brown in 1905. Maud was a former Professor of Latin and Greek at the Agnes Scott Institute in Decatur, GA.
While Brown’s professional duties were in modern languages, he continued to pursue his interests in the sciences, publishing a monograph on The Lignite of Mississippi in 1907, as well as essays on the “Botany of Tishomingo State Park,” on “Landscaping with Native Plants,” and on the petrified forest of Mississippi. In addition, Mississippi had initiated a Geological Survey of the state in the early twentieth-century, and Dr. E. N. Lowe, State Geologist and Director of the Mississippi Geological Survey, asked his friend Brown to assume the title of “archaeologist” for the project. Brown began photographing mound sites as early as 1912, and for the next fourteen years he amassed an impressive collection of photographs and artifacts, while documenting his work with multiple records. The end result of Brown’s labors was his book The Archaeology of Mississippi (1926), which is now recognized as one of the pioneering works of its kind. (Biographical note has been adapted from the Comparative Literature Center site at the University of Georgia).