The stuff of everyday student life isn’t often thought of when considering Harvard’s impressive history. But for a group of high school students visiting the Harvard University Archives in July, the materials that helped them connect most with the past were those that captured “ordinary” life on campus.
They read a student’s 1969 journal that juxtaposed accounts of a Civil Rights protest with descriptions of birds he saw out his window. They laughed at an illustration of a food fight in a dining hall in the 1700s, sparked by spoiled butter. They examined the photo of a Delphic Club party circa 1950s. There was a menu listing 17-cent meals from 1909 and a math homework assignment from 1795; photos of classrooms and dorm rooms from the 1950s; a Harvard Camera Club membership certificate from the 1890s; and a copy of the Kirkland House “facebook” from 2003-2004.