Harvard University Founded

The Early History of Harvard University Harvard University, which celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1986, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

Founded 16 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, the University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 18,000 degree candidates, including undergraduates and students in 10 principal academic units. An additional 13,000 students are enrolled in one or more courses in the Harvard Extension School. Over 14,000 people work at Harvard, including more than 2,000 faculty. There are also 7,000 faculty appointments in affiliated teaching hospitals.

Seven presidents of the United States – John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and George W. Bush – were graduates of Harvard. Its faculty have produced more than 40 Nobel laureates.

Harvard College was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown, a young minister who, upon his death in 1638, left his library and half his estate to the new institution. Harvard's first scholarship fund was created in 1643 with a gift from Ann Radcliffe, Lady Mowlson.

During its early years, the College offered a classic academic course based on the English university model but consistent with the prevailing Puritan philosophy of the first colonists. Although many of its early graduates became ministers in Puritan congregations throughout New England, the College was never formally affiliated with a specific religious denomination. An early brochure, published in 1643, justified the College's existence: "To advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministry to the Churches."

Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1636 by the colonial Massachusetts legislature, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and currently comprises ten separate academic units. It is also the first and oldest corporation in the United States.

Initially called "New College" or "the college at New Towne", the institution was renamed Harvard College on March 13, 1639. It was named after John Harvard, a young clergyman from the London Borough of Southwark, England, who bequeathed the College his library of four hundred books and £779 (which was half of his estate), assuring its continued operation. The earliest known official reference to Harvard as a "university" occurs in the new Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.

Harvard College was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The college was named for its first benefactor, British-born John Harvard of Charlestown, a young minister who, upon his death in 1638, left his library and half his estate to the new institution. The charter creating the corporation of Harvard College was signed by Massachusetts Governor Thomas Dudley in 1650. In the early years, the College trained many Puritan ministers.

During its early years, the College offered a classic academic course based on the English university model but consistent with the prevailing Puritan philosophy of the first colonists in New England. The College was never affiliated with any particular denomination, but many of its earliest graduates went on to become clergymen in Puritan churches throughout New England. An early brochure, published in 1643, justified the College's existence: "To advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministery [sic] to the Churches…" Harvard's early motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae "Truth for Christ and the Church." In a directive to its students, it laid out the purpose of all education: "Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Iesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. 17. 3. and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning