THE HOUSES IN OPERATION
4. Winthrop House
The following article was written for the Crimson by C. J. Fleming, Jr. '33, chairman of the Winthrop House Committee.
President Lowell has said, "The purpose of the Houses is to create a suitable environment in which to carry on academic work, social life, and informal activities." John Winthrop House has, through the combined efforts of its Master, its tutors, and its members, endeavored to fulfill this purpose.
It is of historical interest that the House was named after two of New England's leaders, one the first colonial governor of Massachusetts; the other, his descendant, the second Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. Gore and Standish Halls which make up this unit, enjoy a very favorable location on the Charles River.
In Gore Hall, one of the best planned of the buildings, are the Junior Common Room and the Dining Room. The Junior Common Room is comfortably furnished, and well-supplied with current magazines and newspapers. Because of its size, it is well-suited for the tea dances that are held after the major football games in the fall, and for a formal dinner held before the Winter Dance. The Dining Room is large enough to seat the entire House. There are no special tables for tutors, thus allowing undergraduates and tutors to dine together as they wish. It is in this room that the Winter dances have been held the last two years.
In Standish Hall are the Senior Common Room and the library. The former, considerably smaller than the Junior Common Room, has not only served as a pleasant meeting place for the tutors and graduate students, but also as a room for small gatherings and social meetings. If has proved especially suitable for House Society meetings, such as those held by the History, Politics, and Economic Societies. The musicals are usually held in this room. As it well should be, the library has proved itself the most important unit of the House. Because of the accessibility of its large collection of books, the unusually comfortable furnishings, and a peaceful atmosphere, this beautiful library has been much used. Nearly all the books needed as texts and for tutorial reading, as well as certain current periodicals of special interest to students of History, Literature, Science, and Economics are here. In addition, the general reader can find a wealth of biography and fiction. The well-arranged stacks with small desks for study are a convenient and important adjunct of the library. Since the first of the year an attractive show case for rare book collections has been acquired. A great deal of interest has been taken in this project, and several exhibits have already been made. Others, showing the hobbies of House members will be displayed. A music room has also recently been established and has already been much used. Additions to the rather limited collection of records are being made by interested members of the House. The records together with a collection of musical scores are kept in the library.
The undergraduates form a nearly autonomous unit within the House. Through the House Committee, which they elect, the various social functions and athletics are directed. This Committee consists of seven members.
The social activities in Winthrop House are varied and well balanced. House dinners are held every Thursday evening. On most of these occasions a table is set for the Master, guest of honor, associates, tutors, and eight to ten invited undergraduates, of the House. After dinner the guest of honor frequently speaks informally. Some of the guests of honor this year have been: President Lowell, Dr. Harvey Cushing, Leverett Saltonstall, Professor Harlow Shapley, Dr. Roger Lee, and William Bingham. At the beginning of the year a series of music recitals was planned. Because the three that have been held proved so popular, three more are to take place before the close of this second term.
In the Fall, tea dances were held after the Army and Dartmouth football games. On December 15th a Christmas dinner was held for members of the House and their guests. Former members of the House who were living nearby asked for a special table which was arranged. Approximately twenty-five men attended this informal House Alumni reunion. After the Dinner, a Reading was given by a tutor of the House which was followed by an enjoyable concert given by the Harvard Glee Club. A very successful Winter Dance, attended by about three hundred persons, was held on February twenty-fourth. A Spring dance will be held in May.
In addition to the dances, Winthrop House life has been made pleasant by the activities of its Master and head tutor. Dr. and Mrs. Ferry have shown interest in meeting new members of the House by inviting them to dinner in small groups. This social friendliness on the part of the Master and head tutor has been very helpful in better acquainting students, tutors, and Masters.
A great deal of interest has been shown in athletics as well as social activities. Harvard Athletic Association statistics show that last year 119 Winthrop House men participated in interhouse sports: the second largest number among the seven units. The various House teams have done well, the football team winning this year's inter-House football championship.
Although the material, social, and athletic interests are an integrate part of any House, one of the most essential elements should be its tutorial staff. Nine fields are represented by Winthrop House tutors. These include the Sciences, Economics, Government Romson Languages, History, Mathematics, Classics, Psychology, and English, the Winthrop staff is especially strong in the fields of Science, Government and Economics.
Whether or not during the almost two years of its existence John Winthrop House has tended to develop a definite personality of its own, is a matter of personal opinion. Most significantly it has retrained from any supremacist attempts at atmosphere an influence of its popular Master. Because of the spirit it of democracy in the House and its balance of academic work, social life and athletics, it may be fairly said that John Winthrop House has made definite progress in fulfillment of the aims of the founders of the House Plan at Harvard.