Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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June 19, 1638 – Shortly before this date, Nathaniel Eaton, first Master of the College, moves with his family from Charlestown into a house in the Yard. By Sept. 17, he has already assembled and begun teaching the first freshman Class of nine. Until the Bay Colony starts using coins for commerce, students for many years pay their tuition and living expenses in commodities ranging from agricultural products and livestock to boots, cloth, and hardware.

June 20, 1659 – In response to a recent town/gown disorder, the Harvard Corporation reserves responsibility for policing the Yard while acknowledging the town’s right to enforce civic ordinances.

June 1766 – Designed by colonial governor Sir Francis Bernard, the new Harvard Hall (still standing, with several later modifications) opens to replace its predecessor, destroyed by fire in 1764. The new hall is the first Harvard structure to be built without chambers and studies. In addition to housing the library and a laboratory, it boasts the College’s first rooms designed for lectures or recitations. Students eat meals here until commons moves to University Hall in 1815. Before the 1874 dedication of partially completed Memorial Hall, Harvard Hall is also the scene of Commencement dinners and Class Day dances.

June 1, 1769 – President Edward Holyoke dies in office, not long before his 80th birthday, making him the oldest person ever to hold the presidency. “If any man wishes to be humbled and mortified, let him become President of Harvard College,” he says on his deathbed.

June 1769 – In response to the occupation of Boston, where the British have pointed cannon at the State House door, colonial governor Sir Francis Bernard adjourns the Great and General Court to Cambridge. The legislature first reconvenes in Holden Chapel and later in Harvard Hall.

June 1, 1774 – Several parliamentary punishments for the Boston Tea Party (December 1773) take effect, and British troops occupy Boston. “[C]onsidering the present dark aspect of our public Affairs,” the Harvard Corporation votes “that there be no public Commencement this Year.” Ceremonies do not resume until 1781.

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