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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Activities Fade, Die as War Hits College; General Revival Movement Now Underway

Manpower Bite Ends Advocate, Guardian as Others Change, Retrench During War Years

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Wistful Harvardmen-turned-servicemen who came back to look around during the War found out soon enough that the place wasn't the same. They looked for a five column daily CRIMSON, and saw in its place the Service News; they looked for the Advocate and found nothing; every-where the once vigorous mass of undergraduate activity was a wraith, stuttering along, supported by a skeletal student body.

Publications felt the draft more acutely and more quickly perhaps than other types of activities, since daily or weekly or monthly schedules had to be met, and fewer and fewer experienced men were on hand to do the writing and editing.

First to go under was the monthly, socially-conscious Guardian, hit both by the evaporation of a good part of their working staff, and an increasingly rugged financial situation; the Guardian called it quits in May 1943.

Advocate Folds

For essentially the same reason, Mater Advocata, 77 years of age at the time and the oldest college literary publication in the country, put out its last issue in July of '43 and officially dissolved as a magazine. The Advocate building stayed open on a social basis for a time, but at present provides housing for a married couple. Some attempts are now being made to reestablish the Mater, but so far nothing definite has been done.

Lampy was the only pre-war undergraduate publication to bull its way through war's hell and high water, coming out less than regularly after the spring of '43, but appearing now and then anyway. Brightest spot in the Lampoon's wartime history was the overseas edition, reportedly sent to all Harvardmen in the Armed services. Issues during the darker war years were apt to be liberally larded with reprint cartoons and poems conceived in brighter days, when the Bow Street emporium was set up to be the cultural center of College life.

Up in the northwest corner of the Yard, what was once the most inclusive of all undergraduate organizations. Phillips Brooks House had to adapt itself to the ways of wartime social service. The building itself was turned into a combination children's day nursery, chaplains' office, housing bureau, and teatime center for Navy wives; the War Service Committee promoted blood donations among the remaining undergraduate body and sold war bonds and stamps in the House dining halls at noontime. The traditional Freshman teas were a strong point in holdovers through the war. PBH is now gradually picking up its former peacetime function--the speakers committee, undergraduate faculty tutors, the social service committee, and the textbook loan library.

Almost alone among undergraduate activities, the Crimson Network held firm from '43 on, and even improved its position in a measure. Government aid in securing priorities for buying equipment was obtained, and the movement from Shepard Hall to Dudley a year age actually resulted in a gain, since its present location is, according, to one Networker, much better for their purposes. Letting the men of the Busy School and the Yard in on Network programs is their number one postwar project, along with an increased coverage of sports contests and a membership drive, to be opened by a four week competition beginning tomorrow.

On the credit side of the wartime ledger goes the Wake, started better than a year ago to fill the gap left by the defunct Advocate. Although there has been student representation in its pages, the Wake has been chiefly devoted to special issues and the works of established writers. The Wake plans to continue its occasional appearances even if the Advocate does revive, and an issue on English poetess Edith Sitwell is contemplated for next Fall.

Along the political picket lines, the University did rather well during the War the Liberal Union functioned throughout on a reduced but active membership. The HLU added a publication, The Progressive, to its activities in 1944, and brought it from a mimeographed bulletin to a monthly printed magazine, at the same time sponsoring a series of forums with the Boston Metropolitan Council of Colleges, and occasionally working actively with the Political Action Committee.

The John Reed Society entered the political publication field briefly in '43, but the magazine, announced as a quarterly, appeared only once. With its revival last term the Society attracted better than a hundred people--a proportion of which come mostly out of curiosity, according to an official of the Society--at open discussions and study groups on Marxian philosophy.

This war-stimulated phenomenon of forums was crystallized just a year ago when the Harvard Forum was founded with the specific function of stimulating student opinion. At the time of its inception it was to be a "wartime organization with peacetime objectives," and according to the Forum's president, this object has almost been fulfilled.

Facing reductions in the size of the student body, of their audiences, and of their till receipts throughout the wartime period, the Harvard Dramatic Club nevertheless put up a brave fight for survival. They produced such plays as "Owen Wingrave," "Much Ado About Nothing," and "The Misanthrope." Now on the docket for spring production is Maxwell Anderson's "Winterset."

Suffering in quantity if not in quality, the University's musical activities fell both the drought of manpower and the heavy hand of the Office of Defense Transportation during the war, which factors eliminated the once-important. Spring trips of the Glee Club and the Harvard Orchestra, and forced the latter organization to combine forces with Radcliffe. Just as soon as the situation permits, however, the Harvard Orchestra plans to go its own womanless way again.

The Glee Club, just back from its first Spring trip since ODT clamped down in '43, drew 140 people this term, and filled out a schedule of local concerts and yearly appearances with the Boston Symphony during the War.

Some of the smaller, more specialized, activities, such as the Outing Club, the Ski Club, the Mountaineering Club, and the Yacht Club had bumpy going during the dark ages, but all of them are currently being revived by the influx of returning veteran members. The Debate Council never missed the Yale and Princeton triangular debates, and awarded the Coolidge prize throughout hostilities.

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