Campus & Community

This month in Harvard History

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  • May 9, 1643 – Lady Mowlson (Ann[e] Radcliffe) creates Harvard College’s first scholarship fund with a gift of £100. The “Harvard Annex,” founded in 1879 for women’s education, formally adopts her maiden name in 1894 to become known as Radcliffe College.
  • Ca. May 1655 – Disgruntled over being the first to complete the recently introduced four-year curriculum, 15 of the 17 members of the Class of 1655 refuse to pay a £3 Commencement fee or take their degree. Only two graduate.
  • May 14, 1655 – The College promulgates a newly revised set of “The Lawes of the Colledge” (a.k.a. the College Laws of 1655). Among the prohibitions: card-playing and long hair.
  • May 25, 1722 – In possibly the earliest unfavorable press directed at Harvard, 16-year-old Benjamin Franklin – writing as “Silence Dogood” in his family’s New England Courant – rails against parents who “send [their sons] to the Temple of Learning, where for want of a suitable Genius, they learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a Room genteely [sic] (which might as well be acquired at a Dancing-School), and from whence they return, after abundance of trouble and Charges, as great Blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited.” Thirty-one years later, Harvard gives Franklin what historians consider its first honorary degree.- From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower