Arts & Culture

Exhibitions from Harvard Archives to mark presidential inauguration

3 min read

In conjunction with the Oct. 12 inauguration of Drew Faust as president of Harvard, the Harvard University Archives has developed two special exhibitions that highlight the history of Harvard, its governance, and its presidency.

The exhibitions will open with a celebration and reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Pusey Library Lobby. The public is invited.

The exhibitions include the following:

“Persuasion, Persistence, and Power: A History of the Harvard Presidency,” Oct. 3–19, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Pusey Library Lobby

Beginning with the appointment of Henry Dunster in 1640, Harvard has selected 28 presidents. Over the past four centuries, the president’s role has evolved from direct participation in all aspects of institutional management — admissions, discipline, curriculum and instruction, personnel, finances, and fundraising — to leadership of a major academic research institution with a multifaceted organization and a significant global impact.

The exhibition includes items from the holdings of the Harvard University Archives that relate to each of Harvard’s presidents.

“Whereas …” The Harvard Charter of 1650, Oct. 11, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to noon and 4:30 to 6 p.m., University Archives Conference Room, Pusey Library

For two days only, the Harvard Charter of 1650 will be on view in the Archives Conference Room in Pusey Library. At each presidential inauguration since 1708, the charter has been presented to the incoming Harvard president as a symbol of office. Signed by Gov. Thomas Dudley, the Harvard Charter of 1650 set forth the mission of the young College, and established the corporate structure for its governance — the president and fellows — which continues to this day.

Only on rare occasions is this Harvard treasure made available for public display.

In addition to the charter, the two-day exhibition includes the oldest-surviving record book, known as “College Book I,” dating back to the early years of the 17th century; the Harvard Seals of 1643, 1843, and 1885; and silver ceremonial keys made in 1846 — all of which are presented to Harvard presidents at their inaugurations.

The Harvard University Archives is the oldest and one of the largest academic archives in the United States. It collects, preserves, and provides access to a comprehensive record of life at Harvard.

The collections in the Harvard University Archives, which date from the 17th century to the present, are used by scholars of American social, intellectual, and academic history; by historians of Harvard, including University departments studying their own history; by students learning the methodology of historical research; and by the general public.

The Harvard University Archives is a program of the Harvard University Library (HUL). HUL is the system of more than 90 libraries that provides comprehensive access to Harvard’s library holdings across the boundaries of individual faculties and disciplines. HUL is also a department of the University’s central administration through which the libraries collaborate in the areas of digital acquisitions and collections, information technology, high-density storage, and preservation.