Harvard Then and Now
In “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau asks, “Why do precisely these objects which we behold make a world?” This project by photographer Özdemir Vayısoğlu seeks to contrast the worlds created by two distinct generations of Harvard students mainly through objects they owned. Through pairs of photos, it illustrates how Harvard’s campus has transformed since the late 19th and early 20th century, reflecting the epistemological value of everyday objects we behold for understanding our ever-changing world with a historical perspective, and thereby, providing a visual archaeology of how material culture has changed Harvard over the last century.
Harvard Square, the historic heart of Cambridge, has changed significantly over the past century.
Harvard Square (1874 vs. 2014)
Harvard Yard, the oldest part of Harvard's campus, has also undergone some important changes over the past century. First a leopard-moth plague in 1909 and then a plague of Dutch elm disease in 1952 killed all the trees in this 1892 photograph, necessitating a series of reforestation campaigns in the coming decades. Also notice that the statue of John Harvard did not sit in its current location in front of University Hall back in 1892. The famous statue was originally placed before the west façade of Memorial Hall and stood there until 1924.
Harvard Yard (1892 vs. 2013)
Memorial Hall was constructed under the presidency of Charles William Eliot to honor Harvard students and alumni who lost their lives in defense of the Union during the American Civil War.
Memorial Hall (1890 vs. 2013)
Dedicated in 1874, Alumni Hall was used as a dining commons until it closed in 1926. After a series of large-scale renovations funded by Walter Annenberg, it was renamed Annenberg Hall in 1996, and now serves as the freshman dining hall.
Alumni Hall in 1887 vs. Annenberg Hall in 2013
Designed primarily as an academic lecture hall for Harvard College, Sanders Theatre opened to student use in 1876. Throughout its history, Sanders has also hosted many musical and theatrical student groups on campus.
Sanders Theatre (1874 vs. 2013)
The Widener Library was built as a memorial for Harry Elkins Widener, Class of 1907, who died on the Titanic in 1912. The library is considered the centerpiece of Harvard Library System, and today houses more than 3 million volumes.
Widener Library (1914 vs. 2013)
Widener Library (1915 vs. 2013)
Widener Library (1915 vs. 2013)
Built in 1763, Hollis Hall is the fourth oldest building in Harvard Yard. In its long history spanning more than 250 years, Hollis underwent a series of extensive renovations, most importantly in 1876, 1898, and 1959.
Hollis Hall 15 (1910 vs 2014)
Hollis Hall 23 (1910 vs 2014)
Hollis Hall 28 (1910 vs 2014)
Hollis Hall 28 (1905 vs 2014)
[Harvard Square] Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University 560.12-040
[Harvard Yard] Harvard University Archives, HUV 20 7-8a A576
[Memorial Hall] Harvard University Archives, HUV 166 (3-8a)
[Alumni Hall] Harvard University Archives, HUB 1556.92 A617
[Sanders Theatre] Harvard University Fine Arts Library, Special Collections 1898L.00839
[Widener Library] (outside) Harvard University Archives, HUV 49 (19-3b)
[Widener Library] (inside, vertical) Harvard University Archives, HUV 49 Folder7 Image5
[Widener Library] (inside, horizontal) Harvard University Archives, HUV 49 Folder7 Image6
[Hollis Hall] (outside, top left) Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University 560.12-023
[Hollis Hall] (outside, bottom left) Harvard University Archives, HUV 33 (1-4)
[Hollis Hall 15] Harvard University Archives, HUPSF Student Rooms (171)
[Hollis Hall 20] (2 photos) Harvard University Archives, HUPSF Student Rooms
[Hollis Hall 23] Harvard University Archives, HUPSF Student Rooms
[Hollis Hall 28] (horizontal) Harvard University Archives, HUPSF Student Folders (163)
[Hollis Hall 28] (vertical) Harvard University Archives, HUPSF Student Rooms
2013/2014 photos courtesy of Özdemir Vayısoğlu