Yesterday's News

1915 Massachusetts Hall is refitted as a lecture hall...

1915 Massachusetts Hall is refitted as a lecture hall to relieve the crowded conditions in Sever and Emerson Halls.


1920 The French government presents Harvard with a large collection of artifacts from the recent war—guns, bayonets, cavalry swords, gas masks, a flame thrower—on condition that the French material is “well separated from the German trophies in the exhibition room.”


1925 The renovation and restoration of Massachusetts Hall is complete, following a fire a year earlier. The building has been converted from office space—the most recent of its incarnations—back into a dormitory for seniors.


1930 In response to fears that President Lowell’s House plan would “subject the individual student unduly to the pressure of group-opinion,” the editors assert that the Harvard undergraduate is “a peculiarly intractable individualist…. His most characteristic symptom is his insistence on exercising his own judgment, and his almost morbid suspicion of any form of organization…that may seem to subject him to mass pressure.” 


1935 After the Harvard Athletic Association asks alumni to help underwrite the cost of American participation in the coming Berlin Olympic, Maxwell Steinhardt ’11 writes the editors condemning this endorsement as “contrary to our ideals of fair play and equality for all…. Our traditions demand that we do not participate in these games…so that Germany will understand that this nation, at least, does not subscribe to her policies.”


1940 Harvard will refund tuition to students who enlist or are drafted, who “shall be liable to the University only for that portion of tuition and other…charges in-curred prior to their departure….”


1950 Harvard hosts the first International Congress of Mathematicians since 1936. Besides arcane discussions there are 10 social events, including a “Memorial Hall beer party at which blackboards were supplied so that the guests would have profundity with their pretzels.” The Soviet Academy of Science declares its mathematicians are “too busy to attend.”


1955 Many alumni urge the University to restore the iron grillwork atop Memorial Hall, which has been removed due to deterioration. One writer, noting that repair estimates are about $100,000, warns against delay lest the cost become progressively more expensive.


1965 Students for a Democratic Society sponsors a teach-in on Vietnam that fills Sanders Theatre and Lowell Lecture Hall.


1975 Harvard has received a donation of 7,000 items pertaining to Vietnam, including books, pamphlets, periodicals, maps, portraits, photographs, and dictionaries. The editors write, “Vietnam may be off-limits to American scholars in years to come, but Cambridge may serve as a useful substitute.”


1980 The governor of Massachusetts signs a bill repealing Harvard’s exemption from Cambridge zoning laws. (The University, unlike other city institutions, had previously been protected by a passage in the Commonwealth’s 200-year-old constitution.)


1985 Several Law School students organize a candlelight rally at Memorial Hall in July to protest apartheid and Harvard’s ownership of stock in companies doing business in South Africa. President Derek Bok, meanwhile, drafts a letter—cosigned by 19 other university and college presidents—to congressional leaders endorsing economic sanctions against the South African government.


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