Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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Nov. 7, 1947 – The Fogg Museum hosts a conference on new methods of using soft X-rays in analyzing works of art. The event draws curators and museum directors from Baltimore, New York, and several New England cities, including New Haven. Special guest speakers include F. Ian G. Rawlins (National Gallery, London) and Paul Coremans (Musées de Belgique, Brussels).

Late November 1948 – Eight MIT pranksters plant explosive wire in the turf of Harvard Stadium in hopes of singeing the school’s initials into the grass when the Harvard-Yale game kicks off on Nov. 20.

Upon discovering the wires earlier in the week, observant Harvard groundskeepers call in local police, who set up a trap that captures one MIT junior and a young female companion near the detonating point (under the Yale stands behind the 30-yard line) just before game time. Both carry batteries – which MIT men always tote around in case of emergency (or so the guilty student claims).

Getting wind of the plot, the local press goes overboard, reporting that the prank would have blown away numerous players and referees, panicked the more than 57,000 spectators, and left a huge crater. “Wiring the midfield of any football stadium is surely dangerous business, but it’s doubtful that the explosion would have done anything more than what was intended – the noisy, smoky initialling of ‘M.I.T.’ in the Harvard sod,” notes “Undergraduate” correspondent Don Connery ’50 in the “Harvard Alumni Bulletin.”

MIT suspends the eight students and puts a ninth on probation.

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