Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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March 3, 1939 – Spurred by a bet, Lothrop Withington Jr. 42 slurps down a four-inch goldfish – and unwittingly starts the national goldfish-swallowing college craze.

March 1, 1942 – Harvard participates in a test air raid. As Civilian Defense personnel scurry about managing fictitious disasters like bomb craters and broken gas mains, a Lowell House senior blows soap bubbles into the sunlight.

March 9-21, 1942 – Twenty-four museum officials from the eastern half of the U.S. meet at the Fogg Museum for the first U.S. conference on “Emergency Protection of Works of Art.” Later that spring, the conference issues a pamphlet describing methods for rating the resistance of art materials to various hazards and suggesting protective measures for art in wartime. It is the first such compilation in the nation.

March 13, 1943 – Harvard’s undergraduate foreign-language requirement expands. Students could previously fulfill the requirement only by demonstrating a reading knowledge of French or German (with knowledge of both recommended). Now they can also meet the requirement with a reading knowledge of Arabic, Chinese, Ancient Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, or Spanish.

FAS Dean Paul Buck denies that the war has inspired the change, citing instead the scholarly recognition that the additional languages are “sufficiently important for the literature and culture they reflect” to stand with French and German.

The “Harvard Alumni Bulletin” predicts that one stipulation will remain unchanged: ” […] certain to be carried in the new catalogue will be the present regulation that a ‘student who has not met this requirement by the end of his fifth term in Harvard College is placed on probation.’ “

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