In his poem “Little Gidding,” T.S. Eliot, Class of 1909, wasn’t talking about Harvard when he wrote “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” But the sentiment behind his verse serves as a perfect leitmotif for the book “Explore Harvard.”

Published to commemorate Harvard’s 375th anniversary, “Explore Harvard,” a collection of contemporary and historical photographs, showcases the myriad intellectual exchanges that make the University one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education.

“We wanted to gather together a collection of images that touched on the University’s past, but also showcased the present-day face of Harvard,” said Christine Heenan, vice president for Harvard Public Affairs & Communications. “This volume shows the incredible reach of the institution, from students immersed in the arts to researchers at work around the globe.”

In his introduction to the book, poet luminary Seamus Heaney writes that “brio and commitment shine off these pictures, whether of students serving on outreach programs in Africa or enjoying themselves near home, splashing through muddy puddles in the Yard; whether watching or playing in ‘the Game’ with Yale or dining in splendor in Annenberg Hall.”

Heaney, who taught at Harvard from 1982 to 1996, also composed “Villanelle for an Anniversary” to mark Harvard’s 350th anniversary. “From the moment I read that poem to the mighty assembly at that year’s Commencement,” he writes, “my sense of relationship with Harvard deepened to the point where I feel immediately at home with this beautiful, bountiful cornucopia of images …”

“Explore Harvard” features the photographic work of Harvard staff photographers Jon Chase, Justin Ide, Rose Lincoln, Stephanie Mitchell, and Kris Snibbe. “None of us went to the College,” Mitchell said, “but each of us has spent over a decade here and has a fondness for and familiarity with the University.”

Verses by acclaimed Harvard poets — from former students like Eliot and Margaret Atwood, to professors like Jorie Graham — open each of the chapters, which are categorized thematically and feature everything from wide vistas to the small details of Harvard.

“Poetry and photography are a natural pairing,” said Mitchell, who took the lead in selecting the images and the verse. “Each condenses a thought, an image, and evokes a mood, expresses an emotion or an aesthetic, and speaks of greater truths.”

One of Mitchell’s favorite photographs is a backstage shot at the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. A blond youth uses a cotton swab to carefully apply fantastical makeup — the annual production is famous for its undergrads in drag — in front of a lighted mirror that also houses the wigs he’ll don for the night. On the opposite page, an archival image of a Hasty Pudding performer from 1886 contrasts the contemporary perspective. The student wears a long, Victorian-esque dress, dark elbow-length gloves, and a white curled wig, with an added fan for dramatic flair.

Mitchell relished the task of sequencing of the images, “comparing modern and historic, pairing photographs with similar compositions, or related themes,” she said.

The cover image, by colleague Rose Lincoln, “was taken last year,” said Mitchell, “but it looks like it could’ve been a moment out of Wallace Stevens’ time at Harvard, so it bridges the two time periods.”

Mitchell also loves a set of photographs at the Lowell House opera. The behind-the-scenes glimpse at the student actors in “Tosca” “feels like a Fellini set,” said Mitchell.

“We have this intimate access to Harvard. We’re not just photographing what’s happening; we’re really integrated with the University. We get to see a lot of things that a lot of people don’t.”


The Gazette photographers will participate in a panel discussion on Oct. 13 at the Harvard Coop, 6 p.m. On Nov. 3, a gallery display and panel discussion will take place at the CGIS Gallery, featuring a reception at 5 p.m., with comments to follow.

Small details, to wide vistas

Jon Chase, Justin Ide, Rose Lincoln, Stephanie Mitchell, Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographers

  • 'H'


    A close-up look of the ornately decorated doors of Robinson Hall. Photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Peep show

    Peep show

    Thayer Hall custodians Leonvil Altidor (left) and Andree-Rose Saint-Cyr watch the Baccalaureate Procession in Harvard Yard, which was followed by services held in Memorial Church. Photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Movie-making magic

    Movie-making magic

    Actress Ariel Harding (far right) of Emerson College is filmed on the production set of "The Last Known Good State," a film by Alexander Berman '10. Hired actors Peter Motson (glasses) and Renzo Ampuero, A.R.T./MXAT Institute '09 (vest), await in the background. Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Launched


    Harvard heavyweight rowers won three gold and two silver medals to run away with the Rowe Cup at the 62nd EARC Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond. The crew of the Harvard championship varsity heavyweight eight boat toss cox Jessica Hoy '07 into the drink after their victory. Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Hall B

    Hall B

    Students pass through the colorful Science Center. Photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Yaxchilan


    Alex Tokovinine, a Harvard graduate student, explains the importance of the glyphs of the ancient Maya city of Yaxchilan, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Photo by Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Symmetry


    Doug Bright (reading book) hangs with Will Murphy (in hat), Abigail Hook (from left), and Anna Mapes. Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Haiti's crisis

    Haiti's crisis

    After a devastating 7.0 earthquake in January 2011, members of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, headed by Michael VanRooyen, arrive in Haiti to organize and run a rehabilitation hospital in Fond Parisien. Alejandro Baez, a former student at the Harvard School of Public Health (left), and VanRooyen exit a helicopter for a meeting with the vice president of the Dominican Republic. Photo by Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Spirit


    A man passes by a stained glass window at Harvard Divinity School. The window, titled "Spirit," was restored in 2001 by J. Ferguson and given in loving memory of Samuel Howard Miller, 1900-1968, dean of the faculty of divinity, "a pastor who deepened the faith of many by his understanding of the arts." Photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Bookworm


    Against a backdrop of fall foliage, master's candidate Kirstin McCarthy studies at Gutman Library at Harvard University. Photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Up on the roof

    Up on the roof

    Following a lecture by John Kohl on solar storms and space weather at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, visitors queue up to view Saturn and Jupiter through telescopes on the observatory's roof. Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Commencement 2010

    Commencement 2010

    Marshal Aaron Byrd reads in the Yard before Morning Exercises begin. Photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer