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COLLECTION Identifier: UAI 15.855

Papers of Urian Oakes


Urian Oakes was the fourth president of Harvard College, serving as acting president from April 7, 1675 to February 2, 1680 and as president from February 2, 1680 to July 25, 1681. This collection consists of Urian Oakes' commission as vicar, 1656, and a poem on his death, written in 1682.


  • 1656-1942


Conditions on Use and Access

The Papers of Urian Oakes are open for research use. Access to fragile original documents may be restricted. Please consult the reference staff for further details.


0.08 cubic feet (2 documents in 1 folio box)
This collection contains two documents: Urian Oakes’ commission as vicar of Titchfield and a poem written upon his death.


Urian Oakes was the fourth president of Harvard College, serving as acting president from April 7, 1675 to February 2, 1680 and as president from February 2, 1680 to July 25, 1681.

Oakes was born in Cheshire County, England, in 1631 and emigrated with his family to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640. He attended Harvard College, receiving his A.B. degree in 1649 and serving as a tutor until 1653, when he returned to England. He received a commission as vicar of Titchfield, near Southampton, England, in 1656, where he served until 1662. During this period, Oakes married Ruth Ames, with whom he had four children.

In 1671, Oakes returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to serve as minister of the Congregational church. He also served as a Fellow of Harvard College from 1672 to 1675, when he was appointed president. Following the turbulent presidency of Leonard Hoar, Oakes restored some stability to College life but the regional economic impact of King Phillip’s War left little money for education and the number of students dwindled. Oakes died in office on July 25, 1681.

  • Clark, Austin H.Urian Oakes, Vicar of Titchfield.Harvard Alumni Bulletin (May 15, 1936) : 1016-1017.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot.Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century. Part II. Cambridge, Massachusetts:Harvard University Press,1936.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot.Three Centuries of Harvard.Cambridge, Massachusetts:Harvard University Press,1936.
  • Sibley, John Langdon.Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Vol. I, 1642-1658. Cambridge, Massachusetts:Charles William Sever, University Bookstore,1873.
  • Urian Oakes.Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomas Gale, 2004.

Acquisition Information

The Papers of Urian Oakes were acquired by the Harvard University Archives as follows:
  1. 1942 John Carter Brown Library: poem by the Reverend William Adams
  2. 1948 Austin H. Clark: Oakes' commission as vicar

Online access

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

Related Material

  1. Leverett, John, 1662-1724. Papers of John Leverett, 1652-1742 (UAI 15.866): Leverett's book of Latin orations, 1652-1711, includes four Latin orations by President Urian Oakes (1672, 1675, 1677, and 1678)
  2. Kaiser, Leo M. [editor]. The unpublished Oratio secunda of Urian Oakes, Harvard1675. (HUG 1638.72)
  3. Search HOLLIS (Harvard's online library system) for works by and about Urian Oakes.

General note

This document last updated 2019 March 27.

Processing Information

Processing Note This material was first classified and described by the Harvard University Archives prior to 1980. The collection was reprocessed in 2004, with subsequent preparation for digitization in 2009. Reprocessing involved a collection survey, rehousing in size- and format-appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid. Preparation for digitization involved updates to the finding aid and the addition of links to the digital copies.

The digitization of Urian Oakes' papers was made possible in part by generous support from the Sidney Verba Fund.
Link to catalog
Oakes, Urian, 1631-1681. Papers of Urian Oakes : an inventory

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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