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HUV 46

Photographic views of Wadsworth House, 1858-1970: an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUV 46
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Title: Photographic views of Wadsworth House, 1858-1970
Date(s): 1858-1970
Quantity: 0.25 cubic feet (52 photographs)
Abstract: Wadsworth House, located in the southwest corner of Harvard Yard, was built in 1726 to serve as the residence of Harvard University's presidents, beginning with President Benjamin Wadsworth, for whom the building is named. It served this purpose for nine Harvard presidents over 120 years, until President Jared Sparks elected to stay in his own Cambridge home in 1849. The Photographic views of Wadsworth House provide a visual record of Harvard University's second oldest building and former presidents' residence, its grounds, and the surrounding area from 1858 to 1970. All images are photograph prints, and the processes include salted paper prints, albumen prints, collodion prints, collotype prints, and gelatin silver prints.

Acquisition information:

These images were acquired by the Harvard University Archives from the late nineteenth century through the late twentieth century.

Processing Information:

This finding aid was created by Amanda Shermanin January 2016. Dates enclosed in brackets were supplied by the archivist.
Description of the Photographic views of Wadsworth House, 1858-1970, was supported by the Harvard Library's Hidden Collection initiative.

Researcher Access:

Open for research.

Online access:

All of the images have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Preferred Citation:

Photographic views of Wadsworth House, 1858-1970. HUV 46, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

Collections in the Harvard University Archives:

Historical Note

Wadsworth House, located in the southwest corner of Harvard Yard, was built in 1726 to serve as the residence of Harvard University's presidents, beginning with President Benjamin Wadsworth, for whom the building is named. It served this purpose for nine Harvard presidents over 120 years, until President Jared Sparks elected to stay in his own Cambridge home in 1849. The Early Georgian house has also served as temporary headquarters of Generals George Washington and Charles Lee in 1775 during the Revolutionary War, housing for students and traveling preachers, and several offices. At the time of this writing, Wadsworth House is currently houses faculty and administrative offices, as well as the Office of the University Marshal.
Upon President Wadsworth's election, Harvard received funding of £1000 from the General Court of Massachusetts Bay to build an official presidents' house, and with an additional £800 provided through other means, the house was constructed for a total of £1800. Presidents who lived in Wadsworth House include Wadsworth, Edward Holyoke, Samuel Locke, Samuel Langdon, Joseph Willard, Samuel Webber, John Thornton Kirkland, Josiah Quincy, and Edward Everett.
The University built additions to the house in 1783, expanding the ground floor and building a brick annex, which housed the office of the college steward and some of the university's records. This annex stood separately from the house until it was connected in 1871, when buildings in the southwest corner of the Yard were rearranged to make space for Matthews Hall. By 1930, the interior of Wadsworth House was remodeled to accommodate offices, housing the University's medical adviser, bursar, Extension and Summer Schools, the Harvard Fund Council, the Harvard Alumni Association, the Alumni Bulletin, and the Departments of Hygiene and Physical Education at various times during the twentieth century.
Wadsworth House is the second-oldest building on Harvard University's campus, after Massachusetts Hall, which was built in 1720. Wadsworth House is also the only building in Harvard Yard that is not enclosed by the Memorial Fence because of its proximity to the street.

References

Arrangement

The photographic views of Wadsworth House has a legacy arrangement reflecting over 100 years of interfiling individual photographs of the structure from many sources into one collection. The images are arranged into seven folders, with the photographs loosely arranged in chronological order. This collection is part of the Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Views, in which Archives staff compiled images, whether acquired individually or removed from larger collections, and arranged them in categories based on locations, buildings, or landscape features for ease of reference.

Scope and Content

The Photographic views of Wadsworth House provide a visual record of Harvard University's second oldest building and former presidents' residence, its grounds, and the surrounding area from 1858 to 1970. All images are photograph prints, and the processes include salted paper prints, albumen prints, collodion prints, collotype prints, and gelatin silver prints. The 52 images in this collection have primarily been gifts of several individuals.
Exterior photographs show the house and its grounds from a variety of angles, including the shift of the annex in the 1871 reorganizing of the southwest corner of Harvard Yard. Also prominent is a group of photographs showing structural repairs made in 1949. Some photographs display people standing or walking next to the house, either in the Yard or along Massachusetts Avenue, previously known as Harvard Street. The surrounding area and buildings are also visible, including neighboring University buildings in Harvard Yard, the Class of 1857 Gate, and a trolley car in Harvard Square. Interior photographs show the Harvard Alumni Association's office upon its completion in 1936.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 March 7.

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