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COLLECTION Identifier: UAI 20.836.xx

Records of the Harvard Bicentenary Celebration

Overview

The records document some of the activities related to the Harvard Bicentenary Celebration held on September 8, 1836. Materials include extracts listing the votes of the Corporation about the 1836 celebration, a plan for the evening illumination of Holworthy Hall, a volume of autographs signed by Harvard graduates and guests, blank tickets for the “Dinner of the Alumni” held during the celebration and letters from Harvard alumni confirming their attendance at the dinner.

Dates

  • 1836, 1842, 1935

Creator

Researcher Access

Open for research.

Extent

1.09 cubic feet (3 pamphlet binders, 1 portfolio folder, 1 flat box, 1 document box)
The records document some of the activities related to the Harvard Bicentenary Celebration of 1836. Materials include extracts taken from the Harvard College records listing the votes of the Corporation about the 1836 celebration, a plan for the evening illumination of Holworthy Hall during the celebration, a volume of autographs signed by Harvard graduates and guests present at the celebration, and blank tickets (including the printing plate) for the “Dinner of the Alumni” held on September 8, 1836. Other records include letters from Harvard alumni confirming their attendance at the Alumni dinner.

Historical note

The Bicentenary Celebration of Harvard University was held on September 8, 1836. The celebration began when Harvard students, alumni, guests, and members of the Harvard Corporation assembled at University Hall in Harvard Yard. Bound books were then presented for the signatures of alumni and guests, and during the day more than 1,100 names were collected. Following the gathering at University Hall, the procession left Harvard Yard and entered the Congregational Church for the celebratory exercises. Harvard President Josiah Quincy delivered the Bicentenary address; prayers were offered, and music was performed. After extensively reviewing the Harvard College books, Quincy revealed the first sketch of the Harvard shield drawn in 1643 (in 1843 a version of the design was formally adopted as the seal of the Harvard Corporation). After the exercises in the church concluded, the procession moved to the Dinner Pavilion, erected within the College grounds. Approximately 1300 alumni and guests assembled for dinner; many toasts, songs, and speeches accompanied the festivities. During the evening the windows of the College buildings were illuminated with lights in the shapes of diamonds, stars, and pyramids by students. In the center windows of Holworthy Hall an oversized “200” was lit, and bonfires brightened the neighboring hills. The Bicentenary Celebration concluded in the evening without a mishap “with a dignity and decorum worthy of the solemn festival of an ancient literary institution.”

Acquisition information

The documents in this collection are University records and were acquired in the course of University business. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the folder list below.

The acquisitions are as follows:
  1. 1842 October 18, Robert Charles Winthrop
  2. 1878 February 19, Harvard Corporation
  3. 1936 August, Clipping file

Related material

In the Harvard University Archives
  1. Banner flown at Harvard's Bicentennial Celebration, 1836 (HUB 3190f)
  2. Report of the Celebration, September 15, 1836 (HUA 836.6)
  3. Bis-centennial Celebration at Cambridge: extracts from the journal of John Pierce relating to the Harvard Bicentenary in 1836 (HUA 836.70f)

References

  • "Celebration at Cambridge." Norfolk Advertiser, September 10, 1836, volume VI, issue 32, p. 2.
  • "Harvard Celebration." Salem Gazette, September 9, 1836, volume XIV, issue 73, p. 3.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot. Three Centuries of Harvard 1636-1936. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1936.
  • Quincy, Josiah. The History of Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts: John Owen, 1840.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2019 March 14.

Processing Information

This inventory was created in April 2014 by Dominic P. Grandinetti from a cursory inspection of the material and a variety of information sources. In some cases, titles were devised by the archivist.
Link to catalog
Title
Harvard University. Corporation. Records of the Harvard Bicentenary Celebration, 1836, 1842, 1935 : an inventory
EAD ID
hua19014

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
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