Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

2 min read

Oct. 6, 1642 – The times and order of their Studies, unlesse experience shall shew cause to alter, the earliest detailed Harvard curriculum, is preserved in writing. Harvard’s undergraduate course of study, begun as a three-year program, expands to four in 1652.

Oct. 24, 1656 – The Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony grants the Corporation discretionary power “to punish all misdemenoures of the youth in their Societie, either by fine or whipping in the hall openly, as the nature of the offence shall require, not exceding [sic] ten shilling [sic] or ten stripes for one offence.”

Oct. 9, 1737 – Edward Holyoke, Class of 1705, is formally installed as Harvard’s ninth President. Not until more than a century later (in Charles Eliot’s record-setting 40-year presidency) will anyone exceed his 32-year term of office. Records of Holyoke’s inauguration also provide the earliest evidence of the singing of Psalm 78 (“Give ear, my Children”), the now-traditional Commencement psalm, at Harvard.

Oct. 27, 1780 – The first total solar eclipse in the New World to be visible to American colonists takes place. Despite the Revolutionary War, the Rev. Samuel Williams, the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, leads an expedition to observe and measure the event from the shores of Penobscot Bay (in modern-day Maine), the only accessible viewing location. For reasons not clearly understood, however, Williams and his group miss the path of totality by a few miles.

– From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower