Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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  • Nov. 24, 1873 – Charles Sprague Sargent officially begins a 54-year term as first Director of the Arnold Arboretum (est. 1872). Sargent soon enlists the aid of pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted ‹ then busy designing the Boston park system ‹ to help him lay out the grounds. 
  • Nov. 23, 1876 – Princeton convenes a meeting in Springfield, Mass., that results in the formation of the Intercollegiate Football Association (Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia). Yale decides not to join but does contribute to the development of the IFA’s modified rugby rules. 
  • Nov. 5-8, 1886 – Some 2,200 alumni and 300 guests (including U.S. President Grover Cleveland and his wife) converge for Harvard’s 250th birthday bash. The University confers 42 honorary degrees; Cleveland declines his LL.D., citing meager education and lack of legal eminence. Foreign university delegates from Cambridge (including one from Emmanuel College, John Harvard’s alma mater), Edinburgh, and Heidelberg greet the throng as do domestic dignitaries from the University of Michigan, Williams, and Yale. “We measure everything to-day by the standard of Harvard,” says Professor Basil L. Gildersleeve, speaking for Johns Hopkins. Phillips Brooks preaches, James Russell Lowell orates, Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes addresses Law School alumni. Students boat-race, play football, and parade in masquerade.– From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower