Harvard University

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.»

Lowell House, one of the first Houses to be built, was completed in 1930 following a generous gift from Edward Harkness. Its neo-Georgean design was awarded the Harleston Parker Architectural Medal in 1935. The House was named for the Lowell Family who have been closely identified with Harvard since John Lowell graduated in 1721. President Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1909 -1933) instituted the House system, tutorials, fields of concentration and Reading Period.

Harvard University Website