Reports to the Board of Overseers
- 1650, 1685, 1761-1854
- Harvard University. Board of Overseers (Organization)
Extent2 cubic feet (16 volumes, 1 legal half document box)
Reports are chiefly signed by committee chairmen and secretaries. Supplements to volumes 1 and 2 and loose reports are located in Box 17.
History of the Board of Overseers
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Board of Overseers was involved in a wide range of decisions related to Harvard College, actively shaping its academic priorities and administrative decisions in conjunction with the Corporation. The Board's membership was decidedly different then than it is today, though, as it included (per the General Court's Act of 1642) the Governor, Deputy Governor and the magistrates of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, as well as "the teaching elders of the six next adjoining towns, viz. Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester." For decades following the American Revolution, the membership criteria changed only slightly and the Board included representatives from the government of the new Commonwealth of Massachusetts: the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Counselors, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, in addition to the aforementioned "teaching elders." Significant changes in the Board of Overseers' composition occurred in 1810, when it was decided that some of the Board's members should be elected, in order to draw upon the expertise and experience of those outside the Board's traditional constituency. An act was passed in March 1810 which declared that, although the core membership would remain the same, the Board of Overseers should also include "fifteen ministers of Congregational churches and fifteen laymen, all inhabitants within the state, to be elected." Although this change in the constitution of the Board of Overseers would prove controversial, and faced serious opposition in 1812 when it was temporarily repealed, by 1814 it had become the established criterion for the Board's membership. Not until the General Court's Act of April 28, 1865, which separated the Overseers from the control of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, would the membership of the Board of Overseers undergo another structural change.
- Bound reports, 1761-1854
- Loose reports, 1650, 1685
- Supplements to volumes 1 and 2, 1781-1830
Titles devised by the archivist.
Preservation and description of the Reports to the Board of Overseers was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
- Harvard University. Board of Overseers. Reports to the Board of Overseers, 1650, 1685, 1761-1854 : an inventory
- EAD ID
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.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA