The New International Encyclopædia/Harvard University

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The New International Encyclopædia
Harvard University
Edition of 1905. Written by Robert ArrowsmithSee also Harvard University on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY. The oldest institution of higher education in the United States, situated at Cambridge, Mass. It had its inception in a desire of the early settlers of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay to preserve and perpetuate in their new home the classical and theological learning acquired by many of them at the University of Cambridge, and to educate the “English and Indian youth in knowledge and godliness.” To this end the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony voted £400 in 1636, and in the following year appointed twelve eminent men of the Colony, including Governor John Winthrop, “to take order for a college at New-Towne,” which was afterwards renamed Cambridge, in honor of Cambridge University. While the organization of the institution was in progress, Rev. John Harvard, an English non-conforming clergyman, died in 1638, bequeathing to the new school his library, consisting of 200 volumes, together with half of his estate, valued at about £400. In recognition of this gift — munificent in those days — the new school was named Harvard College. The Colonial magistrates and many private persons, emulating Harvard's generosity, also contributed books, funds, and gifts in kind. The first building was erected in 1637 by Nathaniel Eaton, who also taught until 1639, when he was dismissed for misconduct. The Rev. Henry Dunster was elected president in 1640, and in 1642 the first class, consisting of nine students, was graduated. The government of the college was the same year vested in a board of overseers, consisting of the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the magistrates, the teaching elders of the “six next adjoining towns” (Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester), and the president of the college. In 1650 the college was formed into a corporation, consisting of the president, five fellows, and the treasurer, for the immediate administration of the financial and educational affairs of the institution, and in 1657 the charter of the corporation was so amended as to dispense with the positive assent of the overseers in matters relating to the internal management of the college, leaving, however, final jurisdiction to that body if necessary. These two governing bodies acted as checks upon each other throughout the earlier history of Harvard, and though at times their antagonism was productive of some good, restraining the too rapid advances proposed by the liberal corporation on the one hand, and preventing the overseers from using the college for partisan purposes, yet the progress of the college was much retarded by these controversies. The character of the board of overseers has been fundamentally changed by successive legislative acts, concurred in by the corporation and overseers. According to the State Constitution of 1780 it was composed of the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Senate of the Commonwealth, the president of the college, and the ministers of the Congregational churches of the towns mentioned above. In 1810 fifteen laymen and fifteen Congregational ministers, with the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, all inhabitants of the State, were substituted in place of the Senate and the ministers of the six towns. In 1814 the members of the Senate were restored to membership; the act of 1834 made clergymen of all denominations eligible for membership on the board; but it was not ratified by the corporation and overseers until 1843; the act of 1851 secularized the board by containing no reference to clergymen; the act of 1865 transferred the election of members of the board from the State Legislature to persons holding the B.A., M.A., and honorary degrees from the college, who were to vote on commencement day at Cambridge; in 1880 eligibility to election as overseer was extended to non-residents of the State. Nominations are made by postal ballot, while the election is held in Cambridge on commencement day. Thus Harvard was successively freed from Church, State, and sectional control.

The administrations of Presidents Dunster, Chauncy, Hoar, and Mather, covering a period of nearly seventy years, were characterized by a constant struggle for existence on the part of the college, due to the parsimony of the government, and to the religious controversies of the liberals and orthodox. Rev. Increase Mather, who was president of the college for fifteen years, actually secured, in 1692, the passage of an act granting a new charter, placing the institution under control of the Calvinists, but the royal sanction to the instrument was withheld. In 1707 the struggle for the control of the college culminated in the confirmation of the charter of 1650, the liberals gaining control of the corporation, while the orthodox retained their influence in the board of overseers. In 1721 Thomas Hollis, an English merchant, endowed a divinity chair, expressly stipulating that the incumbent should not be subjected to any particular religious tests. The overseers at first refused to accept the gift; and when, at the instance of the corporation, they finally did accept it, the founder's wishes were disregarded by the exaction of a number of confessions from the first appointee. In 1762 an attempt was made by the orthodox party to establish a rival college in the Colony, but this was stoutly resisted by the overseers, and they succeeded in dissuading Governor Bernard from granting a charter. Fire destroyed, in 1764, the first Harvard Hall, containing the library and apparatus. The greatest loss was the founder's library, one book being rescued out of his entire collection. Sympathy for the college was awakened throughout the Colonies, which generously aided to repair the loss.

The liberal tendencies of Harvard manifested themselves on the political as well as on the religious side. The class of 1768 voted to take their degrees dressed in homespun, and the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon George Washington in 1776. Throughout the critical period of the Revolution, Harvard loyally supported the patriotic cause by converting its funds into currency, whereby its finances greatly suffered. In 1780 the new State Constitution confirmed the college charter with slight modifications, and by 1793 the college had partially recovered from its financial difficulties, its funds being then estimated at $182,000. The college after the close of the Revolution assumed its normal growth; the standard of scholarship was somewhat raised, and in 1782 a medical department was established. Under President Kirkland's vigorous administration, 1810-28, the college grew considerably. At the instance of Prof. George Ticknor, who had studied at Göttingen, a committee, with Hon. Joseph Story as chairman, was appointed to inquire into the methods of discipline and instruction at the college. The committee reported in 1824, recommending the division of the college into departments and the instituting of two classes of studies: those necessary for a degree and those which might be taken by students merely wishing “to pursue particular studies to qualify them for scientific and mechanical employment and the active business of life.” These suggestions met with strong opposition from the conservatives. A new code of laws was nevertheless drawn up the following year, organizing the ‘faculty of the university,’ systematizing the college administration, creating departments, and admitting special students. This marks the transition period of Harvard from a classical college modeled after the traditions of Oxford and Cambridge to a university based on the principles of European universities. The attempt at expansion, which involved an increase in expenditure, received a temporary check when, in 1824, the Legislature refused to renew the grant of the bank tax, which had netted the college, since 1814, about $10,000 annually. In 1825 the disbursements exceeded the income by about $4000, and the attendance, owing to the enforced economy and the withdrawal of aid from needy students, decreased from over 300 in 1824, to about 200. Nevertheless, the policy of expansion was continued under President Josiah Quincy, private benefactions, as usual, supplying the want of State aid. The law department, which had been established in 1817, was greatly strengthened by Mr. Nathan Dane's endowment of an additional chair, to which Joseph Story, whose works on equity and constitutional law form such an important part of the legal literature of this country, was appointed. In the modern-language department Professor Ticknor and his successor, Henry W. Longfellow, successfully offered a number of elective courses, but in other departments the attempt gradually to introduce electives did not meet with equal success. It has always been Harvard's tendency to encourage freedom of thought, and on that account it was formerly considered the nursery of Unitarians. The Harvard authorities, however, were timorous, and although some of the leading thinkers of that sect in the United States, as, for example, Emerson and Channing, were graduates of the college, yet when the former addressed the divinity students in 1838, exception was taken to some of his remarks as being too liberal. Harvard's attitude toward the slave question was decidedly conservative. Charles Sumner and Wendell Phillips, leading advocates of the abolition movement, had, however, been educated at the college, and when the final call to arms was issued, its sons were among the first to respond. To the memory of those who fell in the Civil War, Memorial Hall, one of the finest buildings of the university, and erected by the alumni at a cost of over $300,000, was fittingly dedicated in 1874. The administrations following President Quincy's resignation in 1845 were distinguished for their conservatism. The only notable additions to the university during that period were the Lawrence Scientific School and the Dental School. The struggle between the humanities and sciences, the rigid curriculum and the more liberal elective system, was about to come on in earnest, and Harvard's position in the educational world was largely decided when the great organizer and educational reformer Charles William Eliot was elected in 1869 as its president.

At the beginning of President Eliot's administration Harvard consisted of the college, wherein the courses were largely required, and a number of semi-independent professional schools, having no entrance requirements or correlation of studies. The total attendance, which was largely from New England, was, in 1869-70, 1107, including 615 college students and 13 graduates. The resident faculty numbered 78, including Lowell, Holmes, Agassiz, and Gray. The elective question was as yet in a chrysalid state, and the few elective courses offered were still in ill repute and not considered as on a par with required work. The funds of the university aggregated $2,257,989.80, and the income $270,404.63. The total value of university property was estimated at about $10,000,000. The library contained about 192,000 volumes. President Eliot reorganized and consolidated the several schools, and in 1903 Harvard University comprised eleven correlated departments as follows: (1) Harvard College, the Lawrence Scientific School, established in 1847, and which grew slowly until 1885, and the Graduate School, organized in 1872 for students pursuing original research. These have, since 1890, been under the immediate charge of the Facility of Arts and Sciences, and include fourteen departments, offering elective courses in the sciences, mechanical and fine arts, and humanities, which lead to the degrees of B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D., and S.D. In 1902-03 the attendance in the college was 2109; in the Scientific School, 584; and in the Graduate School, 316. In addition to the regular courses offered by the faculty, persons holding the Ph.D. or S.D. degree are authorized to give courses either gratuitously or at a stipulated fee, in the same manner as the docents at the German universities. Evening readings, lectures, and concerts, including those of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, have become a permanent feature at the university. For graduates engaged in original research, 41 fellowships, yielding from $300 to $1000, are available. There are also 205 scholarships open to all students under this faculty, besides several special funds for the assistance of needy students. (2) The Law School, established in 1817, and reorganized in 1872 by Professor Langdell, who first introduced the inductive or case method, confers the LL.B. degree, and had, in 1903, an attendance of 640. (3) The Medical School, established in 1782, and the Dental School, founded in 1867, united since 1899 under the faculty of medicine, and located at Boston. They confer the M.D. and D.D.S. degrees, and had, in 1903, an attendance of 445 and 112, respectively. (4) The Divinity School, formally organized in 1819, is non-sectarian, and confers the degree of S.T.B. Under certain specific conditions, its students may also earn the M.A. and Ph.D. on recommendation of the faculty of arts and sciences. Its attendance is small. (5) The Bussey Institution, a scientific school of agriculture and horticulture, the only school to which there are no formal entrance requirements, was organized in 1871, and is situated at Jamaica Plain, about five miles from Boston. It confers the degree of Bachelor of Agricultural Science. (6) The Arnold Arboretum was founded in 1872 under the will of James Arnold, for scientific research in arboriculture, forestry, and dendrology, and has a museum for Massachusetts trees and shrubs. It occupies about 220 acres in West Roxbury. (7) The University Library, including the separate libraries of the several schools and departments, aggregates 576,900 volumes and 250,000 pamphlets, the largest collection being at Gore Hall, which contains 387,100 volumes. (8) The University Museum, situated at a short distance from the main buildings, consists (a) of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy, founded in 1859 by private subscription and by the State, and greatly enriched by the collections of Prof. Louis Agassiz and the gifts of his son; (b) the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology; (c) the Botanical Museum; and (d) the mineralogical and geological sections. The Semitic, the Fogg Art, and the Germanic Museums are each located in separate buildings. (9) The Botanic Garden, founded in 1807, occupies about seven acres, on which are cultivated about 5000 species for scientific purposes. (10) The Gray Herbarium includes the famous collection of Prof. Asa Gray, presented to the university in 1864. (11) The Astronomical Observatory, established in 1843, maintains a station near Arequipa, Peru, and a series of meteorological stations crossing the Andes at elevations varying from 100 to 19,200 feet.

In 1879 the solution of the question of higher education for women was partially begun by Harvard professors and instructors, with the organization of the Society for the Collegiate Instruction for Women. In 1894 the name of the society was changed by the General Court of Massachusetts to Radcliffe College (q.v.), and permission was given it to confer the ordinary collegiate degrees subject to the approval of a board of visitors, composed of the president and fellows of Harvard College, under whose direction and control Radcliffe was then placed. Its immediate government is in charge of a council and an academic board, of which bodies the president and dean of Harvard College are members. Instruction is given mainly by the faculty of Harvard College, and sixteen scholarships are available for worthy students. Its attendance is approximately 450. The government of Harvard University is vested in (1) a board of overseers, of which the president and treasurer are members ex-officio, and five of whom are elected annually for a term of six years; (2) the corporation, composed of the president, treasurer, and five fellows — a self-perpetuating body, having charge of the management of the material and educational interests of the university; (3) the university council, composed of the members of the several faculties, with jurisdiction on educational questions that concern more than one faculty; and (4) the faculties of the several schools.

Students under any of the faculties may register in any course in the university, a provision which tends to bind more closely the interests of the several schools. The entrance requirements were gradually raised, until 1890, when the limit was practically reached; and sciences and modern languages are now accepted at the college in lieu of one ancient language. These changes have had a very wholesome effect in forcing preparatory schools in turn to raise and broaden the standard of their courses of study. The professional schools, with the exception of the Dental School, now require matriculants to hold a collegiate degree. The question of shortening the college course has not been definitely settled. Industrious students may, however, so arrange their work as to complete the college course in three years.

The university maintains a summer school under the faculties of arts and sciences, theology, and medicine, with courses designed mainly for teachers. In the summer of 1902, 945 students were enrolled. The schools issue a number of important publications, partly independent journals and partly stated reports in scientific periodicals. Important work is done by students in clubs connected with the various departments. Athletic sports are regulated by a committee representing the faculty, the graduates, and undergraduates. Physical training is provided by the Hemmenway Gymnasium, built in 1878, and by two athletic fields, containing twenty-four acres. The Harvard Union, an elaborate students' clubhouse, the gift of Henry Lee Higginson, was opened in 1901. In 1880 attendance at chapel was made voluntary, and, contrary to expectations, the religious side of the university has not suffered thereby. Five eminent preachers are annually appointed, without regard to sect, to conduct daily services at the chapel, and seats also are provided for students at the local churches at the expense of the university. Religious societies find ample accommodations for their meetings at the Phillips Brooks House. The grand total attendance of the university in 1903 was 5206, with a faculty numbering 534. The university property, in 1902, was estimated at $20,914,541, and consisted of grounds and buildings valued at $5,300,000, scientific apparatus, etc., valued at $1,500,000, and productive funds of $14,114,541. The income, exclusive of gifts and bequests to the amount of $1,095,737, was $1,430,292.

The publications of the university, issued officially or indirectly, are: Harvard Oriental Series; Harvard Studies in Classical Philology; Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature; Harvard Historical Studies; Quarterly Journal of Economics; Harvard Law Review; Annals of the Observatory of Harvard College; Annals of Mathematics, New Series; Contributions from the Cryptogamic Laboratory; Publications of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy; Contributions from the Zoölogical Laboratory; Publications of the Peabody Museum of Archæology and Ethnology; The Harvard Graduates' Magazine.

The presidents of Harvard since its inception have been: Henry Dunster, 1640-54; Charles Chauncy, 1654-72; Leonard Hoar, 1672-75; Urian Oakes, 1675-81; John Rogers, 1682-84; Increase Mather, 1685-1701; Samuel Willard, 1700-07; John Leverett, 1708-24; Benjamine Wadsworth, 1725-37; Edward Holyoke, 1737-69; Samuel Locke, 1770-73; Samuel Langdon, 1774-80; Joseph Willard, 1781-1804; Samuel Webber, 1806-10; John Thornton Kirkland, 1810-28; Josiah Quincy, 1829-45; Edward Everett, 1846-49; Jared Sparks, 1849-53; James Walker, 1853-60; Cornelius Conway Felton, 1860-62; Thomas Hill, 1862-68; Charles William Eliot, 1869—.

Consult: Pierce, History of Harvard University, 1636-1766 (1833); Quincy, The History of Harvard University (1840); Eliot, A Sketch of the History of Harvard University (1848); Thayer, “Historical Sketch of Harvard University,” in the History of Middlesex County (1890); Hill, Harvard College by an Oxonian (1895); Annual Report of the President and Treasurer of Harvard College; and The Harvard University Catalogue.