Class of 1938 Distinguishes Itself in Riots, Public Life
Many's the present Harvard man who would envy the class of 1988 the distinction of its college history: a freshman year which began auspiciously with a fine, successful riot, and a junior year which included one of the best riots of the century. But the other years were also, in their own way, exciting ones for President James Bryant Content's second Harvard class, and the world into which '38 graduated continued to provide another kind of excitement, though more formidable and grim.
It was in the fall of 1934--the fresh-man of the class of 1938--after the college term had settled into routine, that Harvard and Princeton smoothed over an eight year breach in athletic relations, meeting on the gridiron for the first time since 1926. Back in the 'twenties there has been a lot of haggling about whether Princeton really deserved as important a place as Yale on the crimson's fall schedule, but the straw that broke the Tiger's back had come from students rather than administration. On the morning of the 1926 game the then-mighty Lampoon published a special issue with a drawing of two pigs wallowing in the mud proclaiming "Come. Brother, let us root for dear old Princeton." And to cap it off, at half-time the Poonies put out a fake CRIMSON headlined "BILL ROPER, PRINCETON COACH, DIES ON FIELD". There was an explanatory drop line: "HRLD BREATH TOO LONG". The ill feeling were pretty generally forgotten by 1934, and the football series sprang up for keeps. Princeton won, incidentally, 19 to 0.
But if Princeton-Harvard bitterness had subsided, the Lampoon had not. Somewhat later in the class of 1938's freshman year, the 'Poon put out its notorious "Esquire" issue, whose contents led the University to shut down the Lampoon building for almost a month and to pressure the publication's officers into an en massage resignation.
Eddie Casey Resigns
Harvard lost to Yale that year, by 10 to 0; and in the succeeding weeks the Harvard sports situation suffered another serious blow with resignation of head football coach Eddie Casey after nine years on the job.
As examinations moved closer, life showed that distressing tendency to slow down. And just to keep the undergraduates honest, the University discontinued the sale of beer in the College dining halls.
But the fall term wasn't quite over. The administration still had time to appoint Dick Harlow as Harvard's next football coach and to set up a quota limitation on the number of concentrators to be allowed into each Department. The idea of the new plan was to make sure no discipline's tutorial staff was overstrained. President Conant recommended the establishment of several "roving" professorships in his Annual report and urged the abolition of the Latin requirement for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
The first big event of the new term was a visit from the same man the college has so defiantly criticized a few months before--Franklin D. Roosevelt, president of the United States. Roosevelt dropped by for a mid-winter dinner at a final club; a force of over 400 policemen, detectives, and secret service men took detailed precautions to safeguard this Democratic excursion into a land of Republicanism.
The spring proceeded. Baron Kurtvon Tippelskirch, German consul General in Boston, placed a laurel wreath in Memorial Church to honor the four German Harvardmen who had died in the first World War. A day before Hitler had announced the scraping of the Versailles Treaty and the creation of a new German army.
PBH Outs Commuters
This was also a year of revolution for the commuting segment of the undergraduate community. Both Phillips Brooks House and the newly formed commuters House Committee were dissatisfied with an arrangement which allowed 250 day-students into PBH each noon for lunch. The pot boiled over when the PBH cabinet expelled the commuters on June 1, effectively forcing the Administration to provide new quarters. Both sides settled finally upon Dudley Hall, using only the first floor in the beginning and eventually taking over the whole building.
All in all it had been quite a year. Freshman confusion notwithstanding, the University was a pretty lively place in those days--back when Tallulah Bankhead told the undergraduates that drama must never be censored, or when the Student Council made its official pronouncement, entered on record for posterity, against the gentle art of goalpost rioting.
The summer passed unobtrusively and Harvard soon began its 299th year. Almost all other activities between the opening of the Class of 1938's sophomore year and the beginning of the centenary celebration--already looming on the University's horizon--fell in the shadow of a many faceted dispute over the Teacher's Oath Act, which required most instruction in Massachusetts to swear that they would uphold the national and state constitution Kirtley F. Mather, professor of geology, struck back at the Massachusetts Legislature's structure as "unwarranted and dangerous to democracy." Mather claimed to speak for many Faculty members when he said he would not take the oath, because it violated his constitutional rights.
Mather's objection, in reality, was purely a matter of matter of principle; for he had many times previously taken such oaths. And all through his campaign he maintained that he had "no unwillingness to swear under conditions which make an oath appropriate." While a group of seniors circulated a petition supporting him. Mather reconsidered, then retracted his stand is the interest of keeping the University out of a threatened lawsuit.
In December, Lucius N. Littauer 78 gave Harvard $2 million to build an entirely now Graduate School, that of Public Administration, and the University responded quickly and energetically. Within a year, a special committee on university education for public service had reported solidly in favor of the venture and provided detailed plans for its enactment.
As the Class of 1938's sophomore year drew to a close, History of Science was added to the University's 25 fields of concentration. Another event in the academic world: its foremost Shakespearean scholar, George Lyman Kittredge '82, resigned from the University's faculty after several decades as Gurney Professor of English Literature. Alfred North While head, distinguished philosopher and teacher, followed Kittredge into retirement at the end of the term.
The next fall was perhaps Harvard's most exciting since the closing days of World War 1. The Tercentenary celebration took up three days--51 colleges sent representatives and 15-000 people descended on Cambridge to take part in the festivities.
The Crimson lost to Yale again--but scored against Princeton for the first time since 1920 and the prebreach days, tying that year's game at 1 points apiece.
Attack on Tutoring Schools
The CRIMSON launched an attach against the private tutoring services parasitically lodged around the Square; and with this move it inaugurated a campaign which all the College's organizations and publications maintained jointly for over three years, until the tutoring schools were finally forced to close down.
Undergraduates cooked up another campaign that year--for the official formation of the Ivy League. Along with the six other Ivy student newspapers, the CRIMSON ran a front-page editorial arguing that no other measure would preserve amateurism in college football. The seven college athletic directors agreed to meet on the problem, but there was little immediate progress except for the addition of Penn-Harvard game to the existing inter-Ivy contests.
As the school year waned, 11500 students attended a hoax lecture on birth control. But the term wasn't over yet--there was still the riot.
And quite a show it was. Early in the evening, a seemingly innocuous water fight along Plympton St. drew together a few stragglers; by 11.30 p.m. a good-sized crowd had gathered. Another twenty minutes gave the disturbance time to swell to major proportions--by midnight 2500 students had gathered in the Square.
After the mob had crippled three trolley cars by disconnecting the power lines, the police moved in. They used tear gas--a tactic unprecedented and not to be repeated for over twenty years. But the patrolmen's efforts failed. About 1500 students fought their way up to Radcliffe, where they milled around yelling and hooting for most of the night.
Senior year was calmer. The CRIMSON editorialized against serving rum punch to freshmen and began a short-lived "Uncle Smugley Says" column. Wolff's Tutoring School rolled busily on and actress Joan Bennet, on a visit to Boston, recommended movie careers to a charmed circle of Harvardmen.
But if the academic year was calm, the athletic year was not. In their senior year the class of 1938 at last beat Princeton, 34-6, and--mirabile dictu-Dock Harlow's machine rallied past Yale in the snow and the rain, 13-6, When Frank Foley scored the tie-breaking touchdown.
Class Marshall that year were C. Russel Allen, Vernon H. Struck, and John L. Dampeer, Chairman for the Class Day Committee was Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Then, in June 1938, the Class collected their degrees, joined the fellowship of educated men and headed out into the world.
Thirty-eight conducted itself well in the war which began a few years later, and in the years which followed the war the class went on to carve a distinguished career in both public and private life. In public life some of its more notable figures include: Arthur M. Schlesinger, jr., Pulitzer Prize winning historian and Harvard professor, now Special Assistant to the President; Theodore White, reporter and Pulitizer Prize winning author (for The Making of the President--1960); John William King, Governor of New Hampshire, Richard Tregaskis, author of Guadacanal Diary and several novels and screenplays: and Nathaniel Bentley, novelist and New Yorker writer.
Some prominent educators from the class are: Francis Keppel, former Dean of the Harvard School of Education and now U.S. Commissioner of Education: Courtney Craig Smith, President of Swarthmore College and American Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarship Committee: F. Skiddy on Stade, Dean of Freshmen at Harvard: and Professors Benjamin Schwartz and Cedric Whitman, both at Harvard: and professors Benjamin Schwartz and Cedric Whitman, both at Harvard. There are also in the class 105 lawyers and judges, 68 physicians, one airplane pilot, and one railroad engineer.
In private life, members of the Class now have, collectively. 2215 children--991 female and 1,224 male, including 58 Harvard sons 58 members never married, and 55 have married, divorced, and remarried. Presently the great majority of the class are prosperously, happily engaged in some form of commerce or industry. In those depression years it had not always seemed that things would turn out so well.