Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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  • Feb. 10, 1853 – Jared Sparks steps down as President; James Walker, Class of 1814, immediately succeeds him to become Harvard’s 18th President. Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison describes Walker as “stone deaf.” Ironically, in the fall of 1856, music becomes the only new subject added to the curriculum during his presidency. 
  • Feb. 1, 1941 – President James Bryant Conant meets with U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ’04 (’03) to discuss Conant’s appointment as an emissary to England for establishing a National Defense Research Committee office in London and thus starting scientific collaboration with the British. Most of the conversation, however, concerns the Lend-Lease Bill (H.R. 1776), which Conant supports in congressional testimony on Feb. 11. By Feb. 15, he is sailing for England, where King George VI receives him at Buckingham Palace on March 12. 
  • Feb. 12, 1942 – Physical Education and Athletics Director William J. Bingham ’16 announces a program of compulsory exercise – four hours per week – for all undergraduates, to prepare them for military service or other war duties. The program, which takes effect on April 6, emphasizes “physical conditioning and hardening” instead of recreation, Bingham explains. Exempted are members of the current senior class and those whose physical condition prohibits strenuous activity. – From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower