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HUM 77

Nichols, John Robert, 1883-1952. Photographs of the Harvard Stadium taken by John R. Nichols, 1903: an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 77
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Nichols, John Robert, 1883-1952.
Title: Photographs of the Harvard Stadium taken by John R. Nichols, 1903
Date(s): 1903
Quantity: 43 photographs
Quantity: 0 .2 cubic feet (1 half document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection consists of photographic prints of the construction of Harvard Stadium in 1903. Taken by engineer John R. Nichols (Harvard College Class of 1906), while he was a student at Harvard. The photographs show views of workers and various stages of the stadium's construction.

Acquisition information:

The collection was donated to Harvard University in 1954 by Helen Atwell.

Processing Information:

Titles and the 1903 date were devised by archivist. Image numbers were assigned by archivist at the time of processing. Photographs are mounted on black paper and were originally housed in bound album. Original album was disbound prior to accession. Archivist attempted to arrange photographs in a logical order.
This finding aid was created by Amanda Strauss in February 2011.

Researcher Access:

This collection is open for research.


Duplication is subject to copyright restrictions.

Related Materials in the Harvard University Archives

Harvard Stadium Plans, HUB 3807.70.
General information by and about Harvard Stadium, HUB 1448.807
General information by and about Harvard Stadium, HUB 3807.2
Papers of Lewis Jerome Johnson, HUG 4468
Harvard Engineering Journal, HUK 363 http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.FIG:001497087

Biographical Note

John R. Nichols, structural engineer in Boston, Massachusetts and received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1906. He was born in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1883 and was a graduate of Latin High School in Somerville. While a student at Harvard, Nichols participated in the Engineering Society and the fencing team. In 1906, he married Alice B. Berry of New York, New York. The couple had five children. He was a consulting structural engineer and a partner in the firm of John R. Nichols and Paul W. Norton, Boston. During the depression of 1929, Nichols participated in relief projects, including editing a new building code for Boston. Later, during World War II, he constructed war plants. His professional memberships included the American Concrete Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. He was also the treasurer of and a teacher at the Henry George School of Social Science in New York, New York. Nichols died while traveling in Rome, Italy on September 29, 1952.

Historical Note

Harvard Stadium was built in 1903, and was the first large vertical structure to be constructed in the United States from reinforced structural concrete. More than 250,000 cubic feet of concrete was used in construction. The stadium was built with funds gifted by the Harvard College Class of 1879. The stadium site was Soldiers Field, which was gifted to Harvard by Major Henry L. Higginson in commemoration of his Harvard classmates who fought in the Civil War. Work began with surveys of Soldiers Field on Class Day, June 19, 1903, and the first football game was held on November 21, 1903 between Harvard and Yale. The stadium seated approximately 40,000 for the inaugural game. Ira N. Hollis (1856-1930), professor of mechanical engineering at Harvard from 1893-1913, oversaw the project from inception to completion. The architectural plans were designed by Charles F. McKim (1847-1909), with the assistance of George Bruno de Gersdorff (1866-1964). The chief engineer was Louis J. Johnson (1867-1952), professor of civil engineering at Harvard. In addition to football games, Harvard Stadium has hosted events ranging from rugby, track and field, and Olympic soccer to political rallies and musical concerts. On December 18, 1986, the Boston Society of Civil Engineers (BSCE) named the stadium a Massachusetts Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It was the 14th structure to receive this distinction. Harvard Stadium became a National Historic Landmark on February 27, 1987.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of photographic prints taken by John R. Nichols during the construction of Harvard Stadium in 1903. Taken from a variety of perspectives including interior, exterior, and aerial, the photographs show views of workers and various stages of the stadium's construction. Workers depicted in photographs are of varied ethnicities. An array of construction tasks are captured in the photographs, including building stadium seating, mixing concrete by machine, and hoisting structural components into place. Photographs are mounted and housed two each in Mylar sleeves.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 August 9.

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