Along the hallway where dignitaries often stride, first-year students and their parents amble through Wadsworth House, gazing at photographs of past recipients of honorary degrees. University Marshal Jackie O’Neill shares stories of Wadsworth, one of Harvard’s most historic buildings, where George Washington lived for a time.

Then, many first-year students and their parents tour Widener Library, the University’s flagship reference center for the humanities and social sciences. Opened in 1915, Widener is home to mazes of metal stacks that contain its vast holdings. Parents take in the library’s grandeur — its impressive reading rooms, its specialty collections, and the grand stairwell accented by two John Singer Sargent paintings — treasures that their children will enjoy for the next four years.

Parents weekend

Photos by Stephanie Mitchell, Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Singers and Sargent

    Singers and Sargent

    As is tradition, Harvard College offers a window into the lives of its freshmen during Freshman Parents Weekend, Oct. 23-24. Among the opportunities offered are tours of Wadsworth House and Widener Library. Here Jane and David Singer (parents of Samuel ’13), take in the Sargent painting in the grand hallway of Widener Library during the tour.

  • Welcome!


    Sarah Speltz (second from left) welcomes visitors to Wadsworth House.

  • Wadsworth House houses …

    Wadsworth House houses …

    The University Marshal, the Harvard Alumni Association, and the director of the University Library all have offices in Wadsworth House. University Marshal Jackie O'Neill (left) continues her tour with Jack and Susan Dempsey of Winthrop Mass., parents of Jillian '13 and Meaghan '10.

  • Family tour

    Family tour

    Melissa (from left), Greg '13, and Gary Roop from Tennessee listen to the historic tidbits offered up by University Marshal Jackie O'Neill during the Wadsworth House tour.

  • Washington slept here

    Washington slept here

    Mary Hirst ’13 (foreground) listens as University Marshal Jackie O'Neill (background) gives the tour of Wadsworth House. In July 1775, Gen. George Washington briefly used the house as his headquarters when he arrived in Cambridge to assume command of the Continental Army.

  • Collection


    The private collection inside the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library was shown to parents and their offspring.

  • Insider’s information

    Insider’s information

    Research librarian Fred Burchsted (right), who has worked at the library since 1995, gives a tour of the stacks.

  • Details


    Andres ’13 and Carla Ballesteros listen during the tour of Widener Library.

  • Beyond the building

    Beyond the building

    In addition to the Widener Library tour, Freshman Parents Weekend, organized by the Office of Student Life in collaboration with the Freshman Dean’s Office, offered a program that included faculty lectures and panel discussions about academic and student-life issues.

  • Grand view

    Grand view

    Edna and Steve Hamilton of Newton, Mass., parents of Elizabeth ’13, admire the grand stairwell of Widener Library.

  • Reading in the library

    Reading in the library

    Eighth-grader Anna Wechsler, the younger sister of Isabella Wechsler ’13, pauses to read during the Widener tour.

  • Meet and greet

    Meet and greet

    HaiBin Wechsler (left) and Marius Wechsler (parents of Isabella ’13) enjoy the tour of Wadsworth House.