Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

2 min read

November 1791 — A writer in the Boston press accuses Harvard of poisoning students’ minds with Edward Gibbon’s monumental “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1776-88). President Joseph Willard replies that far from even considering Gibbon, the College uses a text by French historian Abbé Millot. Nathaniel Ames, who left Harvard around 1812, recalls Millot’s as “the most utterly worthless and contemptible work of that kind or any other extant.”

Nov. 7, 1898 — “The Harvard Bulletin” (predecessor of Harvard Magazine) publishes its first (four-page) issue. Cost: 8 cents.

Nov. 10, 1903 — In the now-demolished Rogers Building (or Old Gymnasium, which occupied the site of today’s Cambridge Fire Department Headquarters at the intersection of Quincy, Cambridge, and Broadway), Harvard opens its Germanic Museum (renamed “Busch-Reisinger” in 1950) on the 144th birthday of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller and the 420th of Martin Luther.

Nov. 14, 1903 — The nearly completed Harvard Stadium opens for its first athletic event, the Harvard-Dartmouth football game. Dartmouth wins, 11-0. After five months of construction costing $175,000, the Stadium is completed in time for the Harvard-Yale game on Nov. 21. The Stadium is the first major reinforced concrete structure built so far north, at a time when many doubt that reinforced concrete can stand up to New England winters. The structure is also the first stadium built for U.S. college athletics and, modeled after the great Stadium at Athens, it remains one of the world’s few authentic classical structures of its kind.

Nov. 6, 1928 — President A. Lawrence Lowell informs the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Edward Harkness’s $3 million gift for an “Honor College,” the seed of the Harvard undergraduate House system. The Governing Boards respond so favorably that in several weeks, Harkness ups the gift to $10 million to create seven Houses — three to be built from scratch, four to be created from existing halls and necessary additions.