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SERIES Identifier: UAI 5.160.x

Records of the President of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell


Abbott Lawrence Lowell was President of Harvard University from 1909 to 1933.   These records document almost every aspect of Lowell's administration during that period.


  • 1909-1933


Conditions on Use and Access

University Records are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation; student records and personnel records are restricted for 80 years from the date of creation; there is no restriction on published material.  Consult Harvard University Archives reference staff for details.


82 cubic feet (244 document boxes, 11 volumes)

These records document almost every aspect of Lowell's administration during the period 1909-1933.   In so doing, they also document national and international trends and events.

The Lowell Presidency

Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856-1943) succeeded Charles William Eliot as President of Harvard University in 1909. Lowell held this position until 1933.  During Lowell's administration, Harvard's enrollment nearly doubled, and its endowment quintupled.  Lowell's administration reshaped undergraduate education. First, by establishing the tutorial system, and second, by the creation of the "house system." Harvard undergraduates had largely lived in private accommodation, leaving the University very little control over student behavior. Lowell united academic advising (tutorial) with student housing.

The expansion of Harvard's campus under Lowell was also signifcant. This was due both to the purchase and construction of the Harvard student housing known as the "river houses" and to the construction of many other buildings.   In addition, Lowell oversaw the establishment of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and the Society of Fellows.

While Lowell was an outspoken advocate for academic freedom of speech, his administration was also marked by controversy over efforts to limit the enrollment of Jews and policies to exclude students of color from campus housing.

Groups of Records

  1. General Correspondence (UAI 5.160)
  2. Index to the General Correspondence (UAI 5.160.2)
  3. Letter books (UAI 5.160.9)
  4. Subject Files
  5. ___National Education Association Annual Convention in Boston, 1909-1910 (UAI 5.160.8)
  6. ___Harvard Surgical Unit records, ca. 1917 (UAI 5.160.7)
  7. ___Admission, 1922-1923 (UAI 5.160.6)
  8. ___Special report ... concerning ... personnel, 1939 (UAI 5.161)
  9. Additional records or "Supplement" ( UAI 5.160.5 )

Other Finding Aids

An inventory which presents folder lists that adhere strictly to the physical order in which the of the Lowell administration records are stored is also available These lists, however, are apt to be less useful to researchers than the inventory and index which you are presently reading.

Acquisition Information

Records were probably sent to the University Archives received directly from the President's Office, ca. 1920-ca. 1935.   Acquisition information from this period is not easily discernible.   No accruals are expected.

Related Materials

Papers of Abbott Lawrence Lowell, 1889-1958 (inclusive), 1889-1943 (bulk). UAI 15.896. Unpublished finding aid available at the Harvard University Archives.

Related Images

Portraits of Abbott Lawrence Lowell: HUP Lowell 17 .  This is one of many images of Lowell available in the Harvard University Archives.  Additional images of Lowell are cataloged in Harvard's on-line image database, VIA.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2022 July 25.

Harvard University. President's Office.   Records of the President of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, 1909-1933 : an inventory and index
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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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