When 11,000 Harvard alumni convened in Cambridge at the Tercentenary celebration in 1936 it was the biggest alumni gathering in history, but was only a drop in the bucket in comparison with the University's 77,748 alumni.
This huge body of Harvard men is tied to the parent institution by a complex of over-lapping organizations--the Alumni Association, the Associated Harvard Clubs, the Board of Overseers, and the Harvard Fund Council.
The Harvard Alumni Association numbers on its rolls all men who have studied in some department of the University; of its 78,000 members, 51,347 are "active" (that is, hold a degree and are eligible to vote for Overseers). None pay any dues. Capital of the Harvard graduate empire is in the chunky yellow building in the southwest corner of the Yard, where Henry C. Clark '11 reigns as secretary of the Association.
Charged with "the establishment of a mutually beneficial relationship between Harvard University and its alumni," the Association serves as a clearing-house for alumni projects and organizations. One of its chief functions is to arrange for professors to speak at Harvard Clubs: in 1938-39, 32 professors visited 44 Clubs, and the number increased during the past year.
The Associated Harvard Clubs, founded in 1897, has 125 local Clubs and some 20,000 members. Beside the American Clubs, there are five in China, four in Canada, two in England, and others scattered over the globe. Boston and New York alone have separate buildings. Many local clubs give scholarships and special prizes to prospective Harvard students in their communities.
The Alumni Bulletin, official publication of the Alumni Association but published by a separate corporation, goes out to some 8,000 subscribers 35 times a year.
The Board of Overseers represents the alumni in the running of the University, and is theoretically Harvard's supreme governing body. Composed of 80 degree-holders (five chosen each year for six-year terms), the Board is elected by all "active" members of the association. Last year 9,961 alumni, almost one quarter of those eligible east ballots in the annual election.
The Harvard Fund Council, founded in 1925, has collected a grand total of $1,820,000 (less $264,000 in expenses) from $2,000 Harvard graduates to be placed at the unrestricted disposal of the University. Last year 10,678 individuals contributed.