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HUD 237.714 F

Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1837. Class Book, 1837-1900 : an inventory

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 237.714 F
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1837.
Title: Class Book, 1837-1900.
Date(s): 1837-1900.
Quantity: 0.2 cubic feet (1 volumes)
Abstract: This volume was maintained Harvard College Class of 1837 Class Secretary Henry W. Williams. It contains biographies of class members and minutes of class meetings. It is part of a series of Harvard class books, which may be considered the nineteenth-century counterpart to yearbooks in general or the published works known as "Harvard Class Reports" in the 20th century.

Acquisition Information and Provenance:

Received 22 May 1906 from Mrs. George W. Thacher, daughter of the Class Secretary Henry W. Williams.
Correspondence relating to the donation of the Harvard College Class of 1837 Class Book is among the records of the Harvard College Class of 1837 (HUD 237.505; Folder marked "Miscellaneous").

Processing Information:

Inventory created April 2002 by Brian A. Sullivan, Senior Reference Archivist. Finding aid encoded with minor editing by Kate Bowers, October 2002.

Conditions on Access:

Access is unrestricted; however, the volume is fragile and users are required to consult related materials first.

Related Materials

The Class of 1837

The Harvard College Class of 1837 included notable authors Henry David Thoreau and Richard Henry Dana. This volume was maintained the Class Secretary, Henry W. Williams.

Photographs in the 1837 Class Book

Photography had yet to be invented when the compilation of this volume began; thus, the Class Book did not initially contain photographs. After 1850, as paper printing processes became widely available, Class Secretary Henry Williams solicited portraits of each member of the Class from the graduates or their heirs and subsequently pasted those he received into the volume.

Evolution of the Harvard College Class Books

This volume is part of a series of Harvard class books, which may be considered the nineteenth-century counterpart to yearbooks in general or the published works known as "Harvard Class Reports" in the 20th century. Harvard classes began compiling Class Books in about 1800 and discontinued the practice around 1900.
For the most part the class books lack photographs, so they are complemented in the later years of the 19th century by another series, the class albums. Unlike class books, class albums typically were compiled by individual students, not the class secretary. Therefore, many class albums may exist for a single class year. Class albums typically include a student's selection of photographs of students, faculty, staff, the campus, and buildings. Class albums exist for classes of the mid-20th to early 21st century.

Physical Arrangement of the Volume

Scope and Content

The 1837 Class Book is in some ways a nineteenth-century counterpart to the twentieth-century class yearbook. It contains handwritten autobiographies by the majority of members of the class. These were written in the volume on or around the time of Commencement, July 1837. Generally, each essay includes references to the student's family background, early childhood and education, and a memoir of his time as a student at Harvard College. In cases where the graduate did not contribute an essay, the Class Secretary included biographical information and news clippings. Some entries contain photographs. While providing a high degree of detail on many members of the class, the Class Book does not have entries for all members of the Class of 1837; thus it is a poor resource for confirmation of matriculation or degree status.

Inventory Update

This document last updated 2016 October 24.

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