Hiram Hilty was born April 2, 1913, in Iowa and raised in Missouri. He graduated from Bluffton College in Ohio, received a Bachelor of Divinity from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut, and a doctorate in history from Duke University. Hilty served as a Quaker minister in Clinton Corners, New York, and then as a missionary in Cuba from 1943 to 1948.
Hilty moved to Greensboro, N.C., in 1948, when he secured employment with Guilford College as a Spanish instructor. There he was an active member of the Inter-Faculty Forum, a multiracial group dedicated to equal civil rights in Greensboro, and the New Garden Friends Meeting. Hilty eventually became chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages, serving until his retirement in 1978. He was also a member of the Greensboro Historical Society and the author of 5 books, including By Land and by Sea: Quakers Confront Slavery and Its Aftermath in North Carolina. Hiram Hilty died in on Oct. 24, 2001.