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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Harvard University

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HARVARD UNIVERSITY, the oldest institution of learning in the United States, founded in Cambridge, Mass., 3 miles from Boston, in 1636. At a meeting of the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay convened on Sept. 8, only six years after its first settlement, it was voted to give £400 toward a “schoale or colledge,” and the ensuing year 12 of the most eminent men of the colony, including John Cotton, and John Winthrop, were authorized “to take order for a college at Newtown.” The name of Cambridge was soon afterward adopted in recognition of the English University, where many of the colonists had been educated. In 1638 John Harvard, a young non-conformist minister, died in Charlestown, leaving to the college £750, and his entire library of 300 volumes. The institution was immediately opened, and was named after its benefactor. Its first president was the Rev. Henry Dunster.

Between 1636 and 1782 Harvard College conferred only the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts, but in 1780 the term University was applied to it in the constitution of Massachusetts. In 1782 and 1783 three professorships of medicine were established and the first degree of Bachelor in Medicine was conferred in 1788. In 1810 the lectures in medicine were transferred to Boston, and there the first medical college was built in 1815. The Law School was established in 1817, and has the distinction of being the earliest school in the country connected with a university and authorized to confer degrees in law. The Divinity School was a gradual outgrowth of the college; the Hollis professorship of Divinity was established in 1721, but the divinity faculty was not formally organized till 1819. It is undenominational—no assent to the peculiarities of any denomination of Christianity being required of any instructor or student. These were the three oldest additions to the college, and justified the wider title.

The Scientific School instituted in 1847, and at first announced as an advanced school in science and literature, was named after Abbott Lawrence, who presented it with $50,000. It confers the degree of Bachelor of Science. The Graduate School, established in 1872, and placed in 1890, together with the Lawrence Scientific School, under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, confers also the degrees of Master of Arts, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Science. The Dental School, situated in Boston, was instituted in 1867, its course being three years; it gives the degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine. The School of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1882, has a free clinic, a hospital, a pharmacy and shoeing forge, and its course of three years leads to the degree of D. V. M. The Arnold Arboretum was founded in 1872 as the outcome of the will of James Arnold, and is practically a public park of great beauty and an experiment station in Arboriculture, Dendrology and Forestry. The school of Agriculture and Horticulture was established in 1870 in accordance with the will of Benjamin Bussey, and is known as the Bussey Institution. It confers the degree of Bachelor of Agricultural Science. The Astronomical Observatory was established in 1843 by means of a public subscription; the Sears Tier was built in 1846, and two years later Edward Bromfield Phillips bequeathed to the university the sum of $100,000 for the observatory. A branch station is established on a mountain 8,000 feet high, near Arequipa, Peru. Among the more important instruments are the 15-inch and 6-inch equatorial telescopes, the 8-inch transit-circle, the 11-inch Draper photographic telescope, the 8-inch photographic telescope, and the meridian photometer. In 1914 the university was divided into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Faculty of Divinity, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Applied Science,

Among the other establishments belonging to the university are the Museum of Comparative Zoology (1850) ; the Botanical Museum; the Mineralogical Museum; the Natural History Laboratories; the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology, founded in 1866 and transferred to the university in 1897; the Semitic Museum founded in 1889; the William Hayes Fogg Art Museum, founded in 1895, and containing, among other treasures the Gray engravings and the Randall engravings; the Botanic Garden, founded in 1807, and the Gray Herbarium, presented to the University in 1864; and Radcliffe College, brought into official relation with the university in 1894. Besides the various department libraries, more than a dozen in number, there is a University Library kept in Gore Hall, numbering 700,000 volumes, and as many maps and pamphlets. In 1764 the library was destroyed by fire, the only works saved being an Oriental collection bequeathed by Dr. Lightfoot, and the Greek and Roman classics presented by Bishop Berkley.

The university buildings number more than 60, including the great Memorial Hall, built in honor of the alumni who perished in the Civil War. In 1909 Charles W. Eliot retired after 40 years as president, and was succeeded by A. Lawrence Lowell. In 1919 the faculty numbered 827, and the students 4,891.