Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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  • April 29, 1636 – John Harvard marries Ann Sadler, sister of the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge University. Just over a year later, they emigrate to New England. 
  • April 24, 1759 – The Board of Overseers recommends that the President and Fellows (the Corporation) repeal “the Law prohibiting the drinking of Punch.” The Corporation in turn allows a Commencer to “entertain any of the Guests at his Chamber, with Punch.” Two years later, the Governing Boards agree that “it shall be deemed no offence, if the scholars, shall in a sober manner entertain one another and strangers with punch (which as it is now usually made, is no intoxicating liquor).” 
  • April 25, 1849 – President Jared Sparks responds by letter to Sarah Pellet, a young woman who has inquired about the possibility of her being admitted to Harvard. “[. . .] I am not aware that any law exists touching this point,” Sparks writes, “and, as it is a novel case, it would be decided by a vote of the Corporation.”As the institution was founded, however, for the education of young men, all its departments arranged for that purpose only, and its rules, regulations, internal organization, discipline, and system of teaching designed for that end, I should doubt whether a solitary female, mingling as she must do promiscuously with so large a number of the other sex, would find her situation either agreable [sic] or advantageous. Indeed, I should be unwilling to advise any one to make such an experiment, and upon reflection I believe you will be convinced of its inexpediency.

    “It may be a misfortune, that an enlightened public opinion has not led to the establishment of Colleges of the higher order for the education of females, and the time may come when their claims will be more justly valued, and when a wider intelligence and a more liberal spirit will provide for this deficiency.”

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