Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

2 min read
  • March 29, 1872 – The Arnold Arboretum (the nation’s oldest arboretum) formally comes into existence when, at the discretion of three Boston trustees (George B. Emerson, John James Dixwell, and Francis E. Parker), a residuary bequest of over $100,000 from New Bedford (Mass.) merchant James Arnold is legally transferred to the Harvard Corporation to develop a scientific station for the study and cultivation of trees. The Corporation agrees to let the fund grow to $150,000 before devoting the net income to (1) maintaining an institution to be known as the Arnold Arboretum and (2) supporting an Arnold Professor to oversee it. The Corporation also agrees to locate the Arboretum on 120 acres in the Jamaica Plain/Forest Hills section of West Roxbury (Boston) left to it by Benjamin Bussey. (Subsequent additions increase the size to more than 265 acres.) 
  • March 26, 1893 – James Bryant Conant, Harvard’s future 23rd President, is born in Dorchester, Mass. 
  • March 4, 1939 – Spurred by a bet, Lothrop Withington Jr. ’42 slurps down a four-inch goldfish – and unwittingly starts the national goldfish-swallowing college craze. 
  • March 9-21, 1942 – Twenty-four museum officials from the eastern half of the U.S. meet at the Fogg Museum for the first U.S. conference on “Emergency Protection of Works of Art.” Later that spring, the conference issues a pamphlet describing methods for rating the resistance of art materials to various hazards and suggesting protective measures for art in wartime. It is the first such compilation in the nation. – From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower