Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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  • Oct. 5, 1740 – Fresh from haranguing 15,000 on Boston Common, the dynamic revivalist George Whitefield breezes in to preach at the Cambridge meetinghouse, inspiring division within families and churches, and much soul-searching among College youth. President Edward Holyoke entertains him, but Whitefield has harsh words for a Harvard in which tutors “neglect to pray with, and examine the hearts of, their pupils,” who read “bad books.”After Cambridge extends no invitation on his next New England tour, Whitefield and his ilk mount their pulpits to denounce Harvard’s sinful ways. In 1744, the faculty publishes a rebuttal that sparks a yearlong pamphlet war. Nevertheless, when fire destroys the College’s original library in 1764, Whitefield donates books and money, and solicits large gifts from other benefactors. The College later adds his image to its portrait gallery.


  • Oct. 1, 1908 – With 59 students, the Graduate School of Business Administration formally opens as a Graduate Department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Through this initial connection to established departments, President Charles William Eliot and Dean Edwin Francis Gay hope to get the newcomer off to a well-supported start. Other U.S. universities begin offering business training as early as 1886, but the course of study is overwhelmingly undergraduate. In seeking to establish business as a profession, Harvard Business School becomes the country’s first business program limited to college graduates. By the end of the first academic year, the School has 80 students (regular and special) from 14 colleges and 12 states. – From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower