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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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This is Phillips Brooks House's 50th anniversary. President Conant says that "no other student activity at Harvard offers so direct and so useful an outlet . . . towards social responsibility." He is undoubtedly right; PBH has done a good job.

During its 50 years, PBH has worked at projects ranging from setting up wood turning shops for boys in Dorchester to holding teas where Radcliffe freshmen can stand inspection before Harvard.

PBH members like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Robert Benchley have tutored enterprising young Bostonians in Piano, Calculus, and the 440-yard freestyle swim. They have read texts to the blind and collected blood for the injured. They have swapped tickets to football games and sold tickets to plays; they have promoted rides to Vassar. They have done the jobs that should have been done and which nobody else would do.

Perhaps this is the tight, tense mainspring which has kept PBH ticking for its fifty years, this constant concern with service. It is this concern which keeps PBH members working in the tenements of the South End; it is this concern which remade PBH from a religious organization when its members found that social service sprawled well past religious limits. PBH has turned in 50 fine and useful years. A happy anniversary to it.

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