Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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Oct. 6, 1862 – The Overseers confirm the Rev. Thomas Hill, Class of 1843, AM 1846, as Harvard’s 20th President. His brief tenure brings higher admissions standards, a series of public “University Lectures” (est. 1863) by distinguished Harvard and non-Harvard scholars that paves the way for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and University Extension, and progress toward a system of elective courses. Hill also conducts nationwide searches for new faculty appointees.

Oct. 7, 1915 – Librarians finish moving books into the new Widener Library. In the 14 weeks since Widener’s formal opening on Commencement Day, staff have reshelved 645,000 volumes taken from temporary storage in Randall Hall (which stood on the site of today’s William James Hall) and 13 other depositories.

October 1942 – Figures from the President’s Office show that 400 faculty (about 20 percent of the teaching staff) have left the University or are on full or part-time leave for war service. The Medical School accounts for 180 such individuals, many of them serving in overseas base hospitals from Northern Ireland to Australia.

Oct. 10, 1942 – Sir Ernest Simon, former Lord Mayor of Manchester, England, visits Harvard to bring greetings from Manchester University and discuss postwar urban reconstruction with regional-planning experts at the Design School. Sir Ernest also finds time for a Faculty Club luncheon, the Harvard-William and Mary football game, and postgame tea at Lowell House.

Oct. 12, 1942 – Lt. Gen. Hsiung Shih-sei, of the Chinese Military Mission to the United States, visits Harvard with other Chinese officers and diplomats. Although the University is officially closed because of Columbus Day, he tours the Yard and examines the glass flowers at the Botanical Museum.

Oct. 22, 1942 – Jan Quen, operator of a Chinese laundry in Boston’s Jamaica Plain section, personally delivers a letter, $25 (unrestricted), and six pounds of Chinese ginger (boxed and wrapped in a laundry bill) to the Massachusetts Hall office of Corporation Secretary Jerome D. Greene, Class of 1896. Hailing Jan’s gesture as “a very gratifying recognition of the usefulness of unrestricted gifts,” Greene speculates that the gift symbolizes Jan’s appreciation for Harvard’s varied activities on behalf of Chinese culture.

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