"You Foolish Parents..."

Parents could find guidance about what sort of allowance to provide their Harvard-bound children in the "Palmer Pamphlet." Professor George H. Palmer surveyed the class of 1887 by letter and reported with approval in a Commencement-day speech that year (subsequently published and widely distributed to those affiliated with Harvard or wishing to become so) that a quarter of his respondents had each spent less than $650 a year to meet necessary expenses for board, lodging, furniture, and so forth, and several students were able to keep their outlays down to the modest sum of $450. A serving of oatmeal and milk at breakfast or of baked beans at lunch could each be had for four cents, and roast lamb for dinner cost a dime. Yet some poorly regulated students spent excessively. Palmer offered the following advice to parents with means.

"Give your son a competent allowance when you send him to Harvard, and oblige him to stick to it. To learn calculation will contribute as much to his equipment for life as any elective study he can pursue; and calculation he will not learn, unless, after a little experience, you tell him precisely what sum he is to receive. If, in a haphazard way, you pour $2000 into his pocket, then, in an equally haphazard way, $2000 will come out. Whatever extravagance exists at Harvard today is the fault of you foolish parents. The College, as a college, cannot stop extravagance. It cannot take away a thousand dollars from your son and tell him--what would be perfectly true--that he will be better off with the remaining thousand; that you must do yourselves. And if you ask, 'What is a competent allowance?' out of what my correspondents say I will frame you five answers. If your son is something of an artist in economy, he may live here on $600 or less; he will require to be an artist to accomplish it. If he will live closely, carefully, yet with full regard to all that is required, he may do so, with nearly half his class, on not more that $800. If you wish him to live at ease and to obtain the many refinements which money will purchase, give him $1000. Indeed, if I were a very rich man, and had a boy whose character I could trust, so that I could be sure that all he laid out would be laid out wisely, I might add $200 more, for the purchase of books and other appliances of delicate culture. But I should be sure that every dollar I gave him over $1200 would be a dollar of danger."

 

While Harvard was busy merging with Radcliffe, another women's college, one with actual faculty members and courses of instruction, was busy taking over Harvard. Bryn Mawr alumnae now shaping Harvard include:

Hannah Gray, member of the Corporation, a Bryn Mawr graduate and former chair of the board of trustees there;

Drew Gilpin Faust, dean-elect of the Radcliffe Institute, a graduate and trustee;

Mary Maples Dunn, acting dean of the Radcliffe Institute, who got her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr and was dean of the undergraduate college;

Myra Mayman, director of the Office of the Arts, a graduate and former trustee;

Anna Lo Davol, M.D., physician at the University Health Services, a graduate and former trustee;

Linda A. Hill, Donham professor of business administration at the Business School (one of the few women and/or African Americans in the school's tenured ranks), a graduate and trustee; and

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Class of 1960 professor of business administration at the Business School, a graduate.

The noted classicist Emily Vermeule, Zemurray and Zemurray-Stone Radcliffe professor emerita, is also a Bryn Mawr alumna, as is Radcliffe's penultimate president, Matina Horner, and one shouldn't fail to mention the late, great Agnes Mongan of the Fogg Art Museum.

Sally Zeckhauser, Harvard's administrative vice president, who has just been named chair of the Bryn Mawr board of trustees, is yet another Bryn Mawr alumna doing a lot for Harvard. She and her husband, Richard, '62, Ramsey professor of political economy at the Kennedy School, named their daughter Bryn, but she's an alumna of Harvard.

 

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