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HUV 664

Photographic views of Kirkland House, 1913-1963: an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUV 664
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Title: Photographic views of Kirkland House, 1913-1963
Date(s): 1913-1963
Quantity: 0.50 cubic feet (58 photographs)
Abstract: Kirkland House is part of Harvard University's House system and is a dormitory complex that was formed in 1931 by combining three buildings: Smith Hall, Bryan Hall, and Hicks House. Smith Hall and Bryan Hall were built as dormitories in 1914 and 1931 respectively, and Hicks House, which serves as Kirkland House's library, was built as a private residence in 1762. Kirkland House was named in honor of Reverend John Thornton Kirkland, Class of 1789, who served as Harvard's president from 1810 to 1828. The Photographic views of Kirkland House provide a visual record of one of the houses in Harvard University's house system, its grounds, and surrounding area from 1913 to 1963. Of the 58 images, one is a postcard, and the rest are photograph prints. The processes include gelatin silver prints and collotype 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 March 2016. Dates enclosed in brackets were supplied by the archivist.
Description of the Photographic views of Kirkland House, 1913-1963, 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 Kirkland House, 1913-1963. HUV 664, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

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Historical Note

Kirkland House is part of Harvard University's House system and is a dormitory complex that was formed in 1931 by combining three buildings: Smith Hall, Bryan Hall, and Hicks House. Smith Hall and Bryan Hall were built as dormitories in 1914 and 1931 respectively, and Hicks House, which serves as Kirkland House's library, was built as a private residence in 1762. Kirkland House was named in honor of Reverend John Thornton Kirkland, Class of 1789, who served as Harvard's president from 1810 to 1828. Between the 1930s and the 1990s, when students were able to submit housing preferences during the assignment process, Kirkland House gained a reputation for being the preferred house of athletes due to its convenient location near Harvard's Soldiers Field. In the 1990s, Harvard began to randomize House assignments, thus making each house more diverse.
The House system was established in 1930 by Harvard University President Abbott Lawrence Lowell with the goal of supplementing the students' education with intellectually, culturally, and socially stimulating living environments, as well as creating a sense of community among students. The Houses accommodate between 350 and 500 students, and at the end of their first year, students are assigned to a House, and they live there through the end of their undergraduate career. Each House typically has a dining hall, common rooms, a library, and recreational spaces.
The first component of Kirkland House to be constructed was Hicks House, which was built in 1762. It was the residence of John Hicks, a Patriot during the American Revolution. He is purported to have participated in the Boston Tea Party, and was one of six Cambridge citizens to be killed in the Battle of Concord in 1775. After his death, General Israel Putnam used Hicks House as his office and quartered some Continental Army soldiers. Harvard purchased the house in 1926 and it was moved from its original location at Winthrop Street and Dunster Street to its current location at John F. Kennedy Street and South Street in 1930. Using funds from the gift of Edward Stephen Harkness, Hicks House was remodeled into Kirkland House's library.
Smith Hall was one of four dormitories built in 1914 to provide campus housing for freshman Harvard students. Designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, the building cost $630,000 to construct, and when Kirkland House was formed, an addition was constructed for a further $115,000. The building was named for its donor, George Smith, Class of 1853, as well as his childhood guardians, James and Persis Smith.
Mostly constructed in 1931, Bryan Hall was the final component of Kirkland House to be built; a segment of the building was completed in 1933. It was designed by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch, and Abbott, and, along with the adjoining Faculty Dean's (formerly House Master) residence, it cost $310,000 to construct. Bryan Hall was also named in honor of its donor, Gregory Seeley Bryan, Class of 1890.
Traditions at Kirkland House include the school year opening ceremony and Secret Santa Week. The opening ceremony consists of Revolutionary War reenactors marching around the House grounds and playing drums and fifes, while the students and deans follow behind. Secret Santa Week consists of residents, called "elves," performing skits as gifts for other residents, called "Santees." At the end of the week, residents celebrate the end of the semester with a dinner and dance.
Notable Kirkland House residents include Jeff Bingaman, Charles Murray, Franklin Raines, Kevin Kallaugher, Wallace Shawn, Thomas Sowell, Pat Toomey, Sam Yagan, and Mark Zuckerberg.

References

Arrangement

The photographic views of Kirkland 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 six 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 Kirkland House provide a visual record of one of the houses in Harvard University's house system, its grounds, and surrounding area from 1913 to 1963. Of the 58 images, one is a postcard, and the rest are photograph prints. The processes include gelatin silver prints and collotype prints. Images in the collection have primarily been contributed by the Harvard University News Office and the Harvard Alumni Bulletin.
Exterior photographs show Kirkland House and the grounds from a variety of angles. The images show Smith Hall, Bryan Hall, and Hicks House, the component buildings that make up Kirkland House. Images also show construction of Smith Hall, the courtyard, the Faculty Dean's residence, and students walking in the courtyard and sitting and conversing on the steps. Interior photographs show the junior common room, the dining hall, and the kitchen in Kirkland House, as well as the library and a dining room in Hicks House, the library of Kirkland House. Of note are images of Harvard University President Nathan Pusey addressing an audience in the junior common room, students eating in the dining hall, a parade following a roast as it is carried into the dining hall during Christmas dinner, staff preparing food in the kitchen, and students studying in the library.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 May 10.

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