Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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  • April 28, 1865 – The Act of this date abolishes all ex officio members of the Harvard Board of Overseers, except the Harvard President and Treasurer (membership had long included state officials). This action, accepted by the Governing Boards in the same year, permanently severs the University from state government. The Act also provides that the 30 Overseers are to be elected in Cambridge on Commencement Day by holders of bachelor’s, master’s, and honorary degrees. By 1916, the vote extends to all Harvard -degree-holders. A 1921 Act gives the Governing Boards the right to adopt new rules for Overseers elections without recourse to the Massachusetts General Court.
  • April 5, 1898 – Responding to the Spanish-American War, 1st Lt. Wirt Robinson, Instructor in Military Science, solicits volunteers to drill under his supervision. Sixty students show up the next day. By May, more than 400 have responded.
  • April 12, 1920 – The Harvard Corporation formally establishes the Graduate School of Education, which has already raised $2 million in endowment. The GSE opens in September. Its early home is Lawrence Hall (originally built in the mid-19th century for Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School), which burns in 1970 on the site now occupied by the Science Center. In 1921, the Governing Boards approve the admission of women to the GSE, which becomes the first sector of the University to admit women on equal terms with men.
  • April 4, 1955 – A Harvard tradition undergoes an electrifying change with the installation of an automatic bell-ringer in the Memorial Church.
    – From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower