Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

1 min read

Feb. 17, 1879 – With approval from President Charles Eliot, the newly formed committee on women’s education (chaired by Elizabeth Cary Agassiz) writes to several Harvard professors to solicit their participation in a plan to provide separate instruction for women.

By Feb. 20, the group receives 53 replies, with 44 professors agreeing to take part. First to respond is Mathematics Assistant Professor William Elwood Byerly, Class of 1871, one of the strongest early supporters of the experiment.

On Feb. 22, the still-unnamed group publishes its first circular on “Private Collegiate Instruction for Women.” The first steps leading to the creation of Radcliffe College have been completed.

Feb. 11, 1913 – Groundbreaking for Widener Library takes place.

Feb. 28, 1942 – In the Yard, Houghton Library is formally opened and dedicated as the new home of Harvard’s rare books and manuscripts. It is the nation’s first academic library specifically constructed for this purpose and the world’s first library with built-in climate control. The fireproof and earthquake-proof structure is originally designed to house 250,000 volumes.

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