How Harvard University Got Its Name
Clergyman John Harvard Died
14, 1638 - Harvard
University is a world-renowned college that educated six
U.S. presidents and many other famous Americans. It's hard
to imagine that this prestigious university started out
with nine students and one instructor. Do you know how
Harvard got its name? On September 14, 1638, John Harvard,
a 31-year-old clergyman from Charlestown, Massachusetts,
died, leaving his library and half his estate to a local,
newly established college. The young minister's gift
provided the college with some needed stability. In his
honor, it was called Harvard College.
the General Court of Massachusetts in 1636, Harvard is
America's oldest institution of higher learning. Since its
days as a single classroom, it has grown into a highly
regarded university with more than 18,000 students and
2,000 faculty members, including numerous Nobel Prize
winners. Harvard's main campus is also one of the
country's most scenic. With an endowment (the part of an
institution's income derived from donations) of $11
billion, the university is the country's wealthiest.
Harvard based its original curriculum on the classics
taught in European universities and on the Puritanism
preached in the American colonies.
In the 18th and
19th centuries, the college diversified, turning toward
intellectual independence. In 1879, its "sister" school,
Radcliffe College, formed, making Harvard's resources
available to women. In addition to its law and medical
schools, Harvard established schools of business,
dentistry, medicine, and arts and sciences, becoming a
major modern university at the turn of the 20th century.
Alumni in some of these fields include writers Henry David
Thoreau, W.E.B. Du Bois, and T.S. Eliot; former member of
Congress Patricia Schroeder and Vice President Al Gore. Do
you know anyone who has attended Harvard?