Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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Nov. 5, 1948 – The Law School Forum makes radio history, broadcasting the first program on “American Sex Standards.”

Held in the auditorium of Cambridge’s Rindge Technical High School (now Cambridge Rindge and Latin School) before a crowd of more than 1,000, the discussion – moderated by Geology Professor Kirtley F. Mather – features anthropologist Margaret Mead (American Museum of Natural History), psychiatrist-author Gregory Zilboorg, and Professor Joseph Fletcher (Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge).

Broadcasting begins with Mather’s summary of the previous discussion and continues with the question period.

Late November 1948 – Eight M.I.T. 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 M.I.T. 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 M.I.T. 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 Don Connery ’50, “Undergraduate” correspondent of the “Harvard Alumni Bulletin”(12/4/48)).

M.I.T. suspends the eight students and puts a ninth on probation.

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