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COLLECTION Identifier: UAI 15.900

Papers of Nathan Marsh Pusey, 1860, 1907, ca. 1915-2001.

Nathan Marsh Pusey (1907-2001) was the twenty-fourth president of Harvard University from 1953 to 1971. This collection contains material from his personal and professional life starting chiefly from after his retirement from Harvard University in 1971, to his death in 2001.

Dates

  • 1860, 1907, 1915-2001.

Creator

Conditions on Use and Access

Access requires donor permission. Further restrictions apply: Harvard University records are restricted for 50 years. Personnel and student records are closed for 80 years. Specific restrictions are noted at the folder level.

Extent

9.2 cubic feet (26 document boxes, 1 portfolio box)

The Papers of Nathan Marsh Pusey document his personal and professional life starting chiefly from after his retirement from Harvard University in 1971, to his death in 2001. Materials related to Pusey's official activities as president of Harvard University (1953-1971) will not be found in these papers.

The largest part of these papers, consisting of correspondence, speeches, and writings, document important aspects of Pusey's accomplishments at Harvard University and shed light on his leadership roles in various charitable organizations. These papers also recount Pusey's early student days, his administration of Lawrence College, and highlight the many honors, awards, and accolades Pusey received over his lifetime. In addition, these papers contain material referring to the Pusey Family, including Pusey's wife, Anne W. Pusey.

Chronology

  • 1907 Nathan Marsh Pusey is born in Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • 1924 Graduates from Abraham Lincoln High School; enters Harvard University
  • 1928 Earns Harvard A.B., magna cum laude. Travels to Europe, mainly France and Italy.
  • 1929 Teaches at Riverdale Country Day School (Bronx, New York)
  • 1931 Studies ancient cultures in Greece
  • 1932 Earns Harvard M.A. Attends the American School of Classical Study in Athens, Greece, as an Archibald Cary Coolidge Fellow
  • 1935 Begins teaching career at Lawrence College (Appleton, Wisconsin)
  • 1936 June 10 Marries Anne Woodward; the couple eventually has three children: Nathan Marsh, James Reeve, and Rosemary
  • 1937 Earns Harvard Ph.D. in ancient history
  • 1938-1940 Assistant Professor of History and Literature at Scripps College (Claremont, California)
  • 1940-1944 Serves as Associate Professor of Classics at Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut) Teaches physics to naval aviation students as part of the War effort
  • 1944-1953 Serves as eleventh president of Lawrence College (Appleton, Wisconsin).
  • 1952 Challenges Senator Joe McCarthy's claims of communist infiltration of the United States Government
  • 1953-1971 Serves as twenty-fourth president of Harvard University
  • 1971-1975 Serves as President of the Andrew F. Mellon Foundation
  • 1972 Room at Memorial Church is dedicated to Nathan M. Pusey and his wife, Anne (this room is refurbished and rededicated in 1994)
  • 1976 May 1 Pusey Library is dedicated
  • 1979-1983 Serves as President of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia
  • 1987 The Nathan M. Pusey Professorship in East Asian Studies established at Lawrence University
  • 2001 November 24 Nathan Marsh Pusey dies at the age of 94
1907
Nathan Marsh Pusey is born in Council Bluffs, Iowa
1924
Graduates from Abraham Lincoln High School; enters Harvard University
1928
Earns Harvard A.B., magna cum laude.
Travels to Europe, mainly France and Italy.
1929
Teaches at Riverdale Country Day School (Bronx, New York)
1931
Studies ancient cultures in Greece
1932
Earns Harvard M.A.
Attends the American School of Classical Study in Athens, Greece, as an Archibald Cary Coolidge Fellow
1935
Begins teaching career at Lawrence College (Appleton, Wisconsin)
1936 June 10
Marries Anne Woodward; the couple eventually has three children: Nathan Marsh, James Reeve, and Rosemary
1937
Earns Harvard Ph.D. in ancient history
1938-1940
Assistant Professor of History and Literature at Scripps College (Claremont, California)
1940-1944
Serves as Associate Professor of Classics at Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut)
Teaches physics to naval aviation students as part of the War effort
1944-1953
Serves as eleventh president of Lawrence College (Appleton, Wisconsin).
1952
Challenges Senator Joe McCarthy's claims of communist infiltration of the United States Government
1953-1971
Serves as twenty-fourth president of Harvard University
1971-1975
Serves as President of the Andrew F. Mellon Foundation
1972
Room at Memorial Church is dedicated to Nathan M. Pusey and his wife, Anne (this room is refurbished and rededicated in 1994)
1976 May 1
Pusey Library is dedicated
1979-1983
Serves as President of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia
1987
The Nathan M. Pusey Professorship in East Asian Studies established at Lawrence University
2001 November 24
Nathan Marsh Pusey dies at the age of 94
Biographical Essay Introduction

Nathan Marsh Pusey (1907-2001) was the twenty-fourth President of Harvard University from 1953 to 1971. He was also President of Lawrence College (1944-1953), President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1971-1975) and President of the United Board of Christian Higher Education in Asia (1978-1983). Pusey's tenure as President of Harvard University was defined by the construction of new buildings, expanded fundraising, and emergence of student unrest and the social activism of the late 1960s.

Early Life and Career

Nathan Marsh Pusey was born on April 4, 1907 at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to John Marsh Pusey (1866-1908) and Rosa (Drake) Pusey (1877-1947). Pusey's father died when he was a year old, leaving his mother, a school teacher, to raise Pusey and her two other children, John and Esther.

An excellent student, Pusey attended the Abraham Lincoln High School and became editor of the school paper, President of the Philomathian Literary Society, a member of the debating club, basketball team, and President of the Junior Class. Entering Harvard University on a Charles Elliott Perkins Scholarship, Pusey was known for his methodical work habits and scholarship. He was selected to the Dean's List for four years and elected to the Harvard chapter of Phi Betta Kappa his senior year.

Pusey's post-graduate activities consisted of a trip to Europe (1929), teaching at the Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx, New York City (1929), spending a summer studying Greek (1931), and attending the American School of Classical Study in Athens, Greece, as an Archibald Cary Coolidge Fellow (1932).

Pusey began a teaching career as a sophomore tutor at Lawrence College in 1935. He moved on to Scripps College in 1938 as an Assistant Professor of history and literature. Later, Pusey became a professor of Greek and ancient history at Wesleyan University (1940), where in addition to his history instruction, Pusey taught physics to naval aviation students during World War II.

Pusey's organizational abilities and administrative skills were recognized when he was elected President of Lawrence College in 1944. At Lawrence College, Pusey increased the endowment, enhanced faculty benefits, and improved the curriculum by adding a new course, Freshman Studies, which emphasized the discussion of ideas through the study of classic works of literature, art, and music.

Harvard Presidency

In 1953, Nathan M. Pusey became Harvard University's twenty-fourth president, the first non-New Englander to head the school. Known as a tireless fundraiser and educational reformer, Pusey was charged with the task of improving undergraduate education and the liberal arts program. Pusey's presidency was marked by several major accomplishments. Among these are:

Initiation of Harvard's first major financial campaign, the Program for Harvard College, which eventually increased the University endowment to one billion dollars. This money was used to improve faculty salaries, expand student financial aid, and begin new building construction.

The establishment of a "needs-blind" admission policy emphasizing merit and that led to a new and dynamically diversified student body. Under Pusey's direction the number offoreign students, African-American students, and women increased.

The rebuilding of the Harvard Divinity School with an enlarged faculty, student body, and facilities.

Aggressive construction of thirty new buildings including: Countway Library Center of Medicine (1959), Loeb Drama Center (1959), Carpenter Center for Visual Arts (1961), Hilles Library (1965), Holyoke Center (1967), Gund Hall (1969), Gutman Library (1969), Science Center (1972), and Pusey Library (1973).

Under Pusey's stewardship, Harvard University grew. Faculty and administrative ranks increased from 3000 to 8500, student enrollment rose from 10,000 to 15,000, and Summer and Extension School enrollment expanded from 4,400 to 10,000. The operating budget of the University increased from $39 million to $200 million.

Pusey's years at Harvard University were not without controversy or difficulty. Towards the end of his tenure, the student movements that were having an impact worldwide also came to Harvard. Campus unrest, centered chiefly on protests against the Vietnam War and Harvard's expansion came to a head in 1969. Pusey took a dim view of student demonstrations and sit-ins and was regularly attacked by students and the Harvard Crimson. For Pusey, the ideals of reason and civility on campus were being threatened and had to be protected. In April 1969, when dozens of students took over University Hall to protest the presence of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on campus and forcibly evicted the Deans, Pusey engaged the police, wearing riot gear, to remove the protesters. The scene of the police battling students was broadcast on television and viewed around the world, drastically altering perceptions of Pusey's administration and overshadowing its many accomplishments. Pusey announced in February 1970 his intention to retire.

Retirement Years

After his Harvard Presidency, Pusey lent his name, time, and administrative talents to several charitable organizations. Pusey served four years as President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1971-1975) and was President of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia from 1979 to 1983. He also served on the boards of many charities including Fountain House, a charity that counsels the mentally ill. In addition to his charitable work, Pusey was an active member of the Episcopal Church, a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and Chairman of the Fund for Theological Education.

Conclusion

Nathan Pusey led Harvard University during a time of rapid growth and turbulent change. He guided Harvard's post-war transformation and expansion, helped to build the faculty, improved student financial aid, and expanded undergraduate education. Pusey was remembered by his friends and colleagues as a caring and warm person, who made an enormous difference in strengthening every aspect of College life.

Nathan Marsh Pusey died in New York City on November 24, 2001 at the age of 94.

Family

Nathan Marsh Pusey married Anne Woodward Pusey (1914-2004) on June 10, 1936. They had three children: Nathan Marsh (b. 1937), James Reeve (b. 1940), and Rosemary (b. 1942).
Parents and Siblings
  1. Father John Marsh Pusey (1866-1908)
  2. Mother Rose (Drake) Pusey (1877-1947)
  3. Sister Esther Natalia Pusey (1904-1991); married [unknown] Briggs; Elgin E. Leach
  4. Brother John Drake Pusey (1905-1966); married Margaret L. Jarvis in 1926
Spouses and children
  1. Wife Anne (Woodward) Pusey (1914-2004)
  2. Son Nathan Marsh (b. 1937); married Elizabeth Davidson
  3. Son James Reeve (b. 1940); married Anne Wang
  4. Daughter Rosemary (b. 1942); married David S. Hopkins in 1965
In-laws
  1. Father-in-law Carleton Hutchins Woodward
  2. Mother-in-law Hortense Forsyth Woodward (1885-1973?)
  3. Brother-in-law Carleton Hutchins Woodward, Jr. (1917-1999?)
  4. Sister-in-law Joan Woodward (Mrs. James L. Linehan, Jr.)
References:
  1. Nathan Pusey, former Harvard President, The Boston Globe, 15 November 2001.
  2. Nathan Pusey dies at 94: Harvard's twenty-fourth president served University for almost two decades. Harvard University Gazette, 15 November 2001.
  3. Smullyan, Deborah. Pusey, Nathan Marsh, American National Biography Online March 2007.
  4. Nathan Marsh Pusey. Current Biography. 1953.
  5. Joshua E. Gewolb. Through the Looking Class: Pusey Recalls His Presidency. The Harvard Crimson, 28 November 2000,p. 5.
  6. Harvard Class of 1928: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Report. Cambridge, Massachusetts: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1953.
  7. Harvard Class of 1928: Fiftieth Anniversary Report. Cambridge, Massachusetts: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1978.
  8. The Pusey Years at Harvard: a Biographical Sketch of Nathan M. Pusey, President of Harvard University, 1953-1971. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University News Office, 1971.
  9. A Salute to the Pusey Years, 1953-1971. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Printing Office, [1971].

Series in the Collection

  1. Biographical Materials
  2. Correspondence
  3. Speeches
  4. Writings
  5. Subject Files
  6. Papers of Anne W. Pusey
  7. Pusey Family Papers

Obsolete Call Numbers

The following list provides a map to old call numbers that were eradicated by the archivist during the 2007 re-processing. All the materials for The Papers of Nathan Marsh Pusey now fall under the single call number UAI 15.900.
  1. HUG 4717 General Folder: moved to Writings (by and about Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  2. HUG 4717.1 Speeches, reports, articles by Pusey, 1952-1971: moved to Writings (by and about Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  3. HUG 4717.5 Clippings about Annual Report for 1953-1954: moved to Writings (by Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  4. HUG 4717.7 Medals belonging to Nathan Marsh Pusey: moved to Biographical Materials.
  5. HUG 4717.25 Examination blue book, Government 6, 1932-1933: moved to Biographical Materials.
  6. HUG 4717.52 Student notes, 1931-1933: moved to Biographical Materials.
  7. HUG 4717.54 In honor of Nathan Marsh Pusey: moved to Writings (about Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  8. HUG 4717.75 Reports, semi-annual and annual, of the President to the Board of Trustees of Lawrence College, 1947-1952.
  9. HUG 4717.76 A Great and Good Work: A History of Lawrence University, 1847-1964: moved to Writings (about Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  10. HUG 4717.80 American Higher Education 1945-1970: A Personal Report: moved to Writings (by Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  11. UAI 15.900 Address at the Fiftieth Reunion Class Dinner of the Class of 1928: moved to Speeches.
  12. UAI 15.900 Addresses, 1953-1968: moved to Speeches.
  13. UAI 15.900 Correspondence, as President of Lawrence College with Harvard Appointment Office, 1944-1951: moved to Subject Files.
  14. UAI 15.900 In Honor of Nathan Marsh Pusey: item weeded and discarded.
  15. UAI 15.900 Personal correspondence received in advance of main transfer: moved to Speeches.
  16. UAI 15.900 Reports and addresses at Lawrence College: moved to Speeches.
  17. UAI 15.900.1 Tape recording of Johnny Most Sports, Dr. Pusey on the Stand, 1970: moved to Biographical Materials.
  18. UAI 15.900.2 Sound recording of an interview with Nathan Marsh Pusey, 1969: moved to Biographical Materials.
  19. UAI 15.900.15 Letters and speeches, 1967-1986: moved to Speeches, Correspondence, and Writings (by Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  20. UAI 15.900.30 The Exploding World of Education: moved to Writings (by Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  21. UAI 15.900.41 Innovation in Liberal Arts Colleges by M. Brick and E.J. McGrath, 1968: item weeded and discarded.
  22. UAI 15.900.43.1 News clippings: moved to Writings (about Nathan Marsh Pusey).
  23. UAI 15.900.43.1 Pusey Letters: moved to Correspondence (General).
  24. UAI 15.900.43.1 Speeches, 1954-1992: moved to Speeches.

Acquisition Information

The Papers of Nathan Marsh Pusey were acquired through donation or purchase. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the descriptions and item lists.

The acquisitions are as follows:
  1. 1953 Mason Hammond
  2. 1955 D.W. Bailey
  3. 1957 Reuben A. Holden
  4. 1958 M.A. DeWolfe Howe
  5. 1971 Nathan Marsh Pusey
  6. 1980 William Bentinck-Smith
  7. Accession number: 08490; 1978 October 2
  8. Accession number: 10927; 1986 November 21
  9. Accession number: 12566; 1992 October 21
  10. Accession number: 12616; 1993 January 14
  11. Accession number: 14405; 2001 October 1
  12. Accession number: 16050; 2004 October 25
  13. Accession number: 17292; 2006 February 28

Related Material in the Harvard University Archives

  1. Records of Pusey's administration of Harvard are described in a separate inventory: Records of the President of Harvard University, Nathan Marsh Pusey, 1953-1971 (UAI 5.169.xx): http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.ARCH:hua01002
  2. Images of Nathan Marsh Pusey are listed in the inventory of the Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits (HUP): http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.ARCH:hua04006 and the inventory of the Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Subjects (HUPSF):http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.ARCH:hua20004 Some images have been digitized and are visible through these inventories and through VIA, Harvard's online image catalog.
  3. Pusey, Nathan Marsh, Biographical File (HUG 300).
  4. Search HOLLIS (Harvard's online library system) for works by and about Nathan Marsh Pusey.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2019 September 11.

Processing Information

The Papers of Nathan Marsh Pusey were first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. In May 2007, Dominic P. Grandinetti re-processed the material. Re-processing included integrating several small collections, re-housing materials in the appropriate containers, establishment of a series and subseries hierarchy, and the creation of this inventory. The archivist placed the documents into acid-free folders, re-housed the materials into archival document boxes, and examined the folder contents to establish the date of the material.

Photograph negatives were scanned onto acid-free paper by the archivist and the reproduced images were added to the collection. News clippings were photocopied and the originals discarded.

Call numbers beyond the base call number were eliminated. A list of these obsolete call numbers is included in this finding aid.

The following folders were moved from this collection and properly placed among the Records of the President of Harvard University, Nathan Marsh Pusey, 1953-1971 (UAI 5.169):
  1. [Interim Report: Roy E. Larson to Overseers Committee] added to Overseers: Committee on Resources, 1962-1963, Box 272.
  2. [Letter from Dean of Harvard Law School to Pusey regarding capital improvement] added to Law School: Dean, 1960-1961, Box 210.
  3. [Letter from Secretary to the Board of Overseers to President Pusey regarding Radcliffe Enrollment] added to Radcliffe, Box 25.
  4. [Memo to the President regarding Harvard's public relations, from William Bentinck Smith] added to Barn-Bj, Box 5.
  5. [Memorandum on Minnesota's Invasion of Harvard College] added to Harvard Club of Minnesota, 1956-1957, Box 96.
  6. [Nathan M. Pusey, memo, Dean of FAS, memo to Pusey regarding Arthur Schlesinger's memo (Extralegal Patriot Assemblage)] added to Communism, 1955-1956, Box 65.
Insurance policy receipts, retirement plan notices, medical statements, hotel bills, checks, appointment calendars (1971-2001) and duplicate materials were weeded and discarded. A report entitled: Innovation in Liberal Arts Colleges (1968) commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was discarded.
Link to catalog
Title
Pusey, Nathan M. (Nathan Marsh), 1907-2001. Papers of Nathan Marsh Pusey : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
EAD ID
hua07007

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461