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HUM 33

Triennial Catalogues annotated by unidentified authors, 1773-1797: an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 33
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Title: Triennial Catalogues annotated by unidentified authors, 1773-1797
Date(s): 1773-1797
Quantity: .1 cubic feet (6 volumes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Triennial Catalogues are chronological and cumulative lists of Harvard graduates published every three years from 1674 to 1875. The Catalogues represent Harvard's first efforts to comprehensively document its graduates and were considered the official record of degree recipients. The collection includes 18th century Triennial Catalogues annotated with additional biographical information by unidentified authors. The Catalogues represent the College's earliest attempt to compile a comprehensive record of its graduates for a public audience, and was used by some individuals as a structure to record additional information about alumni.

Acquisition information:

The annotated Triennial Catalogues were received as donations beginning in 1831 through the mid-20th century, but the full provenance of the volumes is unknown. Specific acquisition information is noted at the item level.

Processing Information:

These Catalogues were first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980 as individual items. The material was re-processed in 2010. Re-processing involved a collection survey, reclassification as HUM 33, and the creation of this finding aid.
This guide was created by Diann Bentiin June 2010.
Preservation and description of the Triennial Catalogues annotated by unidentified authors was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Researcher Access:

The Triennial Catalogues annotated by unidentified authors are open for research.

Copying Restriction:

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Preferred Citation:

Triennial Catalogues annotated by unidentified authors, 1773-1797. HUM 33, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives

Historical Note

Harvard's Triennial Catalogues were published in Latin every three years to record the names of Harvard's alumni, beginning with the Class of 1642 and continuing through Harvard's most recent graduates. The Catalogues were published as broadsides from 1674 through 1773. In 1776, the format changed to an octavo pamphlet. The Triennial Catalogues were published through 1875 when it was replaced with a five-year Quinquennial Catalogue that was published through 1930.
The Catalogues provided a thorough record of Harvard graduates, and a dedicated group of alumni used it as a base to collect additional biographical information. Annotated and interleaved copies of the catalogues proved an important resource for, and precursor to the Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts started by Harvard Librarian John Langdon Sibley in 1873. Nicholas Gilman (AB 1724), William Winthrop (AB 1770), Jeremy Belknap (AB 1762), and John Pierce (AB 1793) were the alumni most active in conducting biographical research, and were acknowledged by Sibley in the preface to the first volume of Harvard Graduates. While the names of some annotators are known, the names of other contributors remain a mystery.



The collection is arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content

This collection contains 18th century Triennial Catalogues annotated by unidentified authors. The Triennial Catalogues represent Harvard's earliest attempt to compile a comprehensive record of its graduates for a public audience. The printing of the Catalogues in a pamphlet format beginning with the 1773 edition supplied more room for annotations than the earlier broadsides and also allowed for the addition of interleaved pages.
The annotations in the Triennial Catalogues are generally biographical in nature, but occasionally include additional information about Harvard's history. Acquisition information has been noted at the item level, when available. On some Catalogues there are clues to the annotator, but the information is inconclusive. The number of annotations varies between volumes, with some containing little more than handwritten asterisks noting deceased alumni.


This document last updated 2013 April 29.

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