Class Book, 1848-1899
Records of the Class of 1848 containing biographical information on class members and minutes of class meetings.
- Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1848. (Organization)
Conditions on Access
Access is unrestricted; however, the volume is fragile and users are required to consult related materials first.
Extent0.2 cubic feet (1 volumes) ; 39 cm.)
The 1848 Class Book is in some ways a nineteenth-century counterpart to the twentieth-century class yearbook, and in other ways it presents a unique perspective from nineteenth-century Harvard students in that it records a great deal more biographical information, especially on their lives and class activities after college. It contains class minutes, a listing of all of the class members of 1848, and handwritten biographies.
The 1848 Class Book features minutes from the class meetings throughout the years of 1848-1853, 1863-1877 and 1881-1899. No normal meetings were held on Commencement Day in 1854 and 1858; these are years for which very little was recorded. The first entry dates from March 20, 1848 and highlights the choice of the following officers:
- Thomas Curtis Clarke, Class Poet.
- George Peabody Tiffany, Class Orator
- Charles Enoch Huse, Class Odist
- Alexander Hale, Class Secretary
- Horatio Stebbins, Class Chaplain
- Walter Patterson Tilman, First Marshall
- Henry Saltonstall, Second Marshal
Committees were elected to carry on many duties and responsibilities.
The next entries describe class meetings and the names of attendees. There were no entries for the years 1858-1863,1878-1881, and 1891-1898.
In addition to the brief biographies found in the minutes, there is also a listing of all the class members of 1848 organized in columns that contain each man's name and residence. The book also contains a list of class members and their exact date of graduation August 23, 1848 or July 16, 1851, a list of members' dates of marriages and names of brides, a list of death dates and a list of professions and occupations. Many of the entries are edited in pencil presumably by the Class Secretary
The largest part of the volume contains handwritten biographies on the majority of the class members with some autobiographies. Each biographical essay includes references to the student's family background, early childhood and education, and his life beyond Harvard: marriage, career, and circumstances of his death. Some entries include obituaries from the local newspapers. While providing a high degree of detail on many members of the class, the Class Book of 1848 does not have complete biographical entries for all members. Both the autobiographical and biographical entries convey what life was like for the Class of 1848, both during and after Harvard.
Some extraordinary events are recorded in this volume. A news clipping relating to Charles Ecnoch Huse indicates that he was admitted to an insane asylum. His attorney F. Gallardo claimed that Huse was never insane but kept in the asylum to defraud him from his right to 5000 acres of land worth $ 1,000,000.
It was registered that Alexander Hale, Class Secretary died in the Gulf of Mexico trying to save passengers of a sinking boat.
Evolution of the Harvard College Class Books
The Harvard classes began compiling class books in about 1800. These documents capture what college life was like from freshman to senior year. They were typically written by an elected class secretary and were often maintained for many years following commencement.
Each class book is titled according to a specific class's graduating year, but it sometimes includes information about the entire college and post-college group experience, from freshman to senior year, often documenting class reunions, significant events in each alumnus's life, and finally including obituary notices. Harvard classes discontinued the practice of compiling class books around 1900.
Class books for the earliest years pre-date photography. They therefore do not contain photographs, unless the class members took the trouble to include alumni photographs. The class books are complemented in the later years of the nineteenth century by another series, the class albums. Unlike class books, class albums were usually compiled by individual students, not the class secretary. Therefore, many class albums may exist for only a single class year. Class albums typically include a student's selection of photographs of students, faculty, staff, the campus, and buildings. Class albums exist for classes of the mid-20th to early 21st-century.
History of the Class of 1848
The early 19th century was a time of student unrest at Harvard, but by the end of Josiah Quincy's presidency, in 1845, the disturbances started to decrease and many academic and social changes were introduced. Quincy resigned and was succeeded by Edward Everett, former Congressman and Governor of Massachusetts. The students returned to their traditional misbehavior. The year 1848 itself, however, was a quiet year, notably there was only one expulsion.
The Class of 1848 was a typical group of Harvard men. Their most prominent member, Eugene A. Hoffman, followed the traditional path of many Harvard graduates, theology.
Also in adherence to tradition, the class maintained contacts as alumni, which included class meetings and class suppers that coincided with Harvard's commencement activities from 1865 onward. During the meeting of 1866, a new class fund was raised for the purpose of securing an income to pay the expenses of the class supper so that no member should feel deprived from being present on the account of the expense. The year 1873 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the class, and a special effort was made to reach each member with an invitation. Fourteen of the class met at Parker House and a roll of the class was printed listing the surviving and dead members of the class.
On the fortieth anniversary, the class had dinner at the Parker House. Each classmate gave a short talk narrating in brief his life's experiences, and each surviving member of the class was requested to send the class secretary his photograph taken that year to be preserved among class archives.
Following the prevailing tradition, the Class of 1848 appointed a Class Secretary to organize and to assemble the record of their activities. The role was filled by seven men. This volume was maintained by the following Class Secretaries: Alexander Hale, 1848-1850, Charles Smith Weyman, Edwin Davenport, 1851-1853, Charles Greenly Loring, 1858-1864, Henry Savage Chase, 1864-1884, Thomas Henderson Chandler, 1885-1891, and David Whitney.
The volume's pagination is very idiosyncratic. The first 100 pages and last pages, from 609 to the end of the volume, are fairly regular and largely in sequence, but have gaps and blank pages. The remainder, which contains the biographical entries, is not in sequence at all. It appears probable that the volume was disbound, re-organized to alphabetize the biographical information, and re-bound without any changes to the page numbering to reflect the new organization of the volume.
Contents by category
- Minutes of Class Meetings, 1848-1853, 1863-1877 and 1881-1899: pages 7-10, 17-21 and 620-625
- Biographical Entries: pages 101-507
- Lists: pages 11-14, 609, 613 and 615-617
- Class Day Exercises and academic performances: pages 629-631, 23-59, 63-87 and 91
- Class Odes: pages, 15-16, 91 and 633
- Prizes: page 17
Contents by location
- Pages 7-10 : Class Records, March 20, 1848
- Pages 11-14 : Graduating and past members
- Page 15-17 : Blank
- Pages 18-21 : Class Records, August, 1848- Dec.1864
- Pages 23-59 : Class Oration George Peabody Tiffany
- Page 60 : No such page
- Pages 61 : Note
- Pages 62-87 : Class Poem Thomas Curtis Clarke
- Page 88 : No such page
- Page 89 : Note
- Page 91 : Class Ode Charles Enoch Huse
- Pages 92-100 : Blank
- Unnumbered pages in middle of volume : Biographical entries
- Page 609 : Marriages
- Pages 610-612 : No such page
- Page 613 : Deaths
- Page 614 : No such page
- Pages 615-618 : Professions and occupations
- Page 619 : Blank
- Pages 620-627 : Class Records, July 1865-June 1899
- Page 629 : Thanks from President and Fellows for Harvard Teacher's fund donation
- Pages -631 (there are 2 pages numbered 629, 628 follows the first 629) : Academic performances 1846, 1847
- Page  : Roll of the class
- Page 633 : Ode by Nathan Ames, Dec. 27, 1848
- Pages [634-636] : Blank
- Page 637 : Poem To Aristus Tuscus
- Pages -678 : Blank
"Deposited in the Library of Harvard College by the Ten Surviving Members of the Class of 1848. Asa Dalton,Francis P. Fisher,Charles French,Thos. D. Howard,Wm. L. JenkinsJames C. D. Parker,Simon G. Sanger,David R. Whitney, Jefferson Wiley, and Edward J. Young. Commencement 1905."
This document last updated 2016 February 23.
Inventory created and encoded in March-April 2004 by Samar El-Kaissi, Intern.
- Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1848. Class Book, 1848-1899: an inventory
- Language of description
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