Suggestions for Harvard commencement and exhibition parts
- Harvard University. Faculty of Arts and Sciences (Organization)
.35 cubic feet (1 document boxes)
The term "exhibition" was also commonly used at Harvard, and in University records, in the 17th and 18th centuries to refer to partial scholarships given to students.
The Harvard Board of Overseers and the Harvard Corporation began in 1754 to examine methods for "promoting oratory and correct elocution among undergraduates." In July 1755, the Harvard Corporation voted that the president should select a classical dialogue and assign parts to students, with each selected student to "translate his part into correct English, and prepare himself to deliver it in chapel in an oratorical manner." Six students presented a dialogue translated into English before an audience that included the Overseers in April 1756, and soon after, English forensic disputations were incorporated into the academic curriculum. Since the first Harvard Commencement in 1642, disputations and orations were delivered in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, but in 1763, the first English oration was included in the exercises. In 1766, the Board of Overseers requested that students make public performances during the semi-annual meetings of the College visitation committee.
On February 27, 1781, the Corporation established four public student exhibitions each academic year, two of which would occur during the semi-annual meeting of the Committee of the Overseers. During the exhibitions, the students were "to exhibit in public, specimens of their proficiency on such subjects" assigned by the Harvard Faculty (then known as the "Immediate Government"). The public exhibitions were intended to both motivate students and honor high achievers, and mirrored the exercises performed on Commencement Day. The exhibitions continued into the 1860s, but interest in the events waned among both students and the public. In 1866, a Corporation committee appointed to investigate the declining interest noted that the, "academical affairs are too tame to rival the highly seasoned entertainments." The last College exhibition occurred on October 26, 1869, and the practice was abolished the following year.
- Compiled lists of subjects, 1789-1825
- Attributed questions and subjects, 1790-1826; ca. 1820s
- Unattributed questions and subjects, -1828; ca. 1820s
- Exhibition program drafts, 1825; 1828
- Source notes, ca. 1820s
- Pierce, John. "Commencements at Harvard, 1803-1848" in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (January 1890).
- Wilds, Elmer Harrison. "Public Speaking in the early Colleges and Schools" in the Quarterly Journal of Speech. Volume 2 (1916), pp. 31-38.
This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in August 2011.
Preservation and description of the Suggestions for Harvard commencement and exhibition parts was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
- Harvard University. Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Suggestions for Harvard commencement and exhibition parts, 1789-1828: an inventory
- EAD ID
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