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COLLECTION Identifier: HUV 660

Photographic views of Winthrop House


John Winthrop House, established in 1931, is one of the student residential houses in Harvard University's house system. The two buildings that make up Winthrop House are Gore Hall and Standish Hall, which were both freshman dormitories before being incorporated into one administrative entity in 1931. This collection holds a visual record of Winthrop House's buildings, grounds, and surroundings from 1913 to 1957.


  • 1913 - 1957

Researcher Access

Open for research.


0.5 cubic feet
62 images

This collection of 62 photographic views of Winthrop House provides a visual record of Winthrop House's buildings, grounds, and surroundings from 1913 to 1957. Exterior photographs show Winthrop House and the grounds from multiple points of view, including what could be described as elevations, details, landscapes, or cityscapes.

The images show Standish Hall and Gore Hall, their gates and courtyards, as well as parts of neighboring buildings and the Charles River. Interior photographs show the library, dining hall, and common room in Gore Hall, some with students and staff in them.

The photographs are chiefly gelatin silver prints, with some collotype prints. Most of the photographs are unmounted on photographic paper, but some are printed as postcards and some are mounted.

One group of photographs documents the 1957 inauguration of House Master (later Faculty Dean) David E. Owen. Images depict the inaugural academic procession, Owen speaking at a lectern in the Gore Hall courtyard, and a celebration in the dining hall. People featured in this group of photographs include Harvard University President Nathan M. Pusey, former Winthrop House Master Ronald M. Ferry, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences McGeorge Bundy, and Allston Burr Senior Tutor Albert A. Mavrinac.

Winthrop House

John Winthrop House, established in 1931, is one of the student residential houses in Harvard University's house system. The two buildings that make up Winthrop House are Gore Hall and Standish Hall, which were both freshman dormitories before being incorporated into one administrative entity in 1931. Their naming and construction pre-date the creation of the house system at Harvard.

Gore and Standish Halls were built at the cost of $870,000 in 1914. Both are red brick structures with English Baroque details designed by the architectural firm Coolidge, Shepley and Rutan. Standish Hall was built with funds from the gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, who named the building for her ancestor, Captain Myles Standish, a settler who arrived on the Mayflower. Gore Hall was funded by gifts from several alumni and was named for Christopher Gore, Harvard College Class of 1776. Renovations and additions to convert the two dormitories into Winthrop House in 1931 cost $315,000 and were designed by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbot.

The new House was named in honor of two men, both named John Winthrop. The first John Winthrop settled in Massachusetts in 1630 to lead the Massachusetts Bay Company. He became the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and served for sixteen years. The second John Winthrop, Class of 1732, is widely regarded as the first American astronomer. He was the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy from 1738 until his death in 1779, and he served as acting president of Harvard College in 1769 and 1773. The Winthrop House crest is based on the Winthrop family coat of arms, and several portraits of the Winthrop family are displayed in the House dining hall and library.

Winthrop House residents observe several traditions, some that the whole House participates in and some that are limited to each class. The all-House traditions include the Arbella Ball in the spring, Winter Formal, a spring carnival called Thropstock, a monthly open house hosted by the Faculty Deans, and Stein Club, which organizes themed gatherings throughout the school year. The class traditions include a gathering with desserts for sophomores to meet their other classmates, a parents' weekend for juniors, and a masquerade ball hosted by the Faculty Deans for seniors. Winthrop House also hosts the Perini-Woods Senior Common Room Speaker Series, named to honor David B. Perini and Robert W. Woods, residents who both passed away in their twenties.

Notable past residents of Winthrop House include John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Ben Bernanke, Lloyd Blankfein, Alan Keyes, Grover Norquist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Barney Frank, Robert Rubin, and Amy Zegart.

About Christopher Gore

Christopher Gore, namesake of Gore Hall (a residential building that forms part of Winthrop House) was a member of the Harvard College Class of 1776. He became a lawyer and politician. He established a successful law practice in Boston. In his political career he served as a delegate in the 1789 Massachusetts convention to ratify the United States Constitution, as United States District Attorney for Massachusetts, as a diplomat in Britain, as Governor of Massachusetts, and as a United States Senator.

A library building also named Gore Hall was built by a bequest from Gore, and it served as Harvard's library from 1841 until it was demolished in 1913 when Widener Library was constructed.

The House System at Harvard

Harvard University's house system was established in 1930 by Harvard University President Abbott Lawrence Lowell with the goal of supplementing the students' education with intellectually, culturally, and socially stimulating living environments, as well as creating a sense of community among students. As of 2017, each of the houses accommodates between 350 and 500 students. During their first year, students inhabit dormitories in Harvard Yard. At the end of their first year, students are assigned to a House and live there through the end of their undergraduate career. Each House typically has a dining hall, common rooms, a library, and recreational spaces. Seven houses were created between 1930 and 1931, from a combination of re-dedication of existing buildings and new construction. Houses were added over the years to accommodate a growing student population. As of 2017, there are twelve residential houses for undergraduates and a single house, Dudley House, which serves as a community center for undergraduate commuters and residence for graduate students.


The collection has a legacy arrangement reflecting a former practice of compiling individual photographs, regardless of provenance, into a single collection. The images were filed into seven folders in loose chronological order. This activity probably took place over a number of decades in the mid-twentieth century.

This collection was formerly part of an even larger group of photographs, the Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Views, into which Archives staff filed images. Within the Views, images were grouped based on location, building, or landscape feature.

Acquisition information

This collection of images was assembled by archivists in the Harvard University Archives, probably over a number of years in the mid-twentieth century, from photographs acquired from a variety of sources. The sources were not recorded, except for the few that are indicated on the back of individual photographs. A number of images bear indicatiosn that they came from the Harvard University News Office or the Harvard University Press.

Online access

All of the images have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany descriptions.

Related Materials

Collections in the Harvard University Archives

  1. General information by and about Winthrop House (HUB 1880.2)
  2. Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Views:
  3. Records of Winthrop House, 1930-1965 (UAV 879.5)
  4. Records of residential life in Winthrop House, 1938-2005 (HUD 3878.8)
  5. See also Harvard University's Visual Information Access (VIA) system for more images of Standish Hall, Gore Hall, and Winthrop House from the Harvard University Archives.


Inventory update

This document last updated 2019 August 05.

Processing Information

This finding aid was created by Jamie Jesanis in April 2016 and substantially revised by Kate Bowers in June 2017.

Description of the Photographic views of Winthrop House, 1913-1957 was supported by the Harvard Library's Hidden Collection initiative.

Photographic views of Winthrop House, 1913-1957: an inventory
Language of description

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.

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