Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line


At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions


Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists


‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam


‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6



An old "Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Harvard University for the Academical Year 1855-56" reveals some interesting contrasts between Harvard College just before the war and the Harvard College of today. The catalogue is printed by John Bartlett, "book-seller to the university," and in outward appearance is somewhat similar to the catalogues of today.

The summary of students shows, among "professional students and resident graduates," a total of exactly 300; undergraduates, 361, divided among the four classes as follows : Seniors, 92; juniors, 69; sophomores, 101, and freshmen, 99. Of these 256 were from Massachusetts, 27 from New York, the rest scattering. James Walker at this time was president of the university, and among the overseers appear the names of Samuel Hoar and Emory Washburn. Professors Parsons and Washburn then had charge of the Law School. Among the professors of the present day whose names appear in this catalogue are O. W. Holmes, Asa Gray, J. R. Lowell, and Professors Bowen, Lovering, Child, Torrey, Eustis, Sophocles, Lane and Cooke. Mr. Sibley was then librarian, with Ezra Abbott as assistant. Louis Agassiz was professor of zoology.

The name of President Eliot appears as tutor of mathematics, and of Professor Child as chairman of the parietal committee. Among the students appear as seniors : Charles Francis Adams of Quincy, Bennett Hubbard Nash and H. M. Ticknor; as junior, Mr. J. C. Ropes; as sophomores, Fisher Ames and Bradford L. Cilley of Exeter; as freshmen, F. E. Abbot, Alexander McKenzie, C. S. Peirce and C. J. White.

In Latin the requirements for admission to the freshman class were besides grammar and composition the whole of Virgil, of Caesar and Cicero's Select Orations, but in Greek only Felton's Greek Reader. The studies of the freshman and sophomore years were entirely prescribed. Of the junior and senior, partly prescribed and partly elective. Greek, Latin, Mathematics, Physics and German, were well taught. To Philosophy considerable attention was paid, and especially to Political Philosophy and Constitutional History; Rhetoric, Botany, Geology, Zoology, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, and some minor subjects were taught. "Instruction" is put at $75.00 a year; total expenses $249.00. Term opened August 30th, in 1855, and commencement occurred July 16. A six weeks' winter vacation came, however, in January and February. Massachusetts, Hollis, Stoughton and Holworthy were then the only large dormitories. It will be seen that many changes have occurred at Harvard since 1856.


Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.