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HUF 442.547

Harvardevens Village photographs, 1947-1949 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUF 442.547
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Title: Harvardevens Village photographs, 1947-1949
Date(s): 1947-1949
Quantity: 1.17 cubic feet (2 flat boxes, 1 half document box)
Abstract: These photographs document the facilities and community life at Harvardevens Village, Harvard's post-World War II temporary housing community for married student veterans at Fort Devens near Ayer, Massachusetts. The photographs were originally housed in an album and included staged photographs representing the different aspects of Harvardevens Village along with amateur snap-shots of community life. The photographs were taken by unknown photographers between 1947 and 1949 with the bulk of the collection taken in 1947. The collection consists of 84 photographic prints (gelatin silver and Kodachrome) possibly compiled by Fletcher Wood Taft (1884-1958), Harvard College Class of 1907, who served as Resident Director of Harvardevens Village from 1946 to June 1949.

Acquisition information:

The Harvardevens Village photographs were acquired from F. Taft with unrestricted funds, March 6, 1950.

Processing Information:

Eve Neiger processed this collection in July 2013. Processing entailed a collection survey, removing photographs from the original album and rehousing items in appropriate archival containers, numbering photographs, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created by Eve Neiger in July 2013.

Researcher Access:

The Harvardevens Village photographs are open for research.


Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Preferred Citation:

Harvardevens Village photographs, 1947-1949. HUF 442.547, Harvard University Archives.

Related Harvardevens Village collections in the Harvard University Archives:

Historical Note on Harvardevens Village

Harvardevens Village was established by Harvard University in 1946 at Fort Devens near Ayer, Massachusetts as housing for married World War II veterans attending Harvard. In June 1946, the Federal Public Housing Authority authorized the development of 386 apartments in the Lovell General Hospital buildings at Fort Devens. Opening for occupancy in October 1946, Harvardevens operated until June 1949, when the property was relinquished back to the Army's control. Though managed and funded by Harvard, the Village functioned as a self-contained community providing housing, social activities, and support to the young families of Harvard students.
After World War II, Harvard faced a housing shortage with the influx of married students with families. To answer this need, Harvard opened the Harvard Housing Office on January 7, 1946 and later established the Office of the Advisor for Veterans Wives and a Medical Service for the Children of Harvard Veterans. The Harvard Housing office established housing at Harvardevens Village and the Brunswick hotel and erected Federal housing units in Cambridge.
Harvardevens Village, converted from military hospital buildings, consisted of administrative and community buildings and apartments surrounded by Perimeter Road. Each apartment had a living room, bathroom, kitchen and up to three bedrooms, and included central heating, hot water and electricity. Community buildings included a club house, infirmary/out-patient clinic, library, stores and a gymnasium. A beauty parlor, barber shop, nursery school and kindergarten, launderette facilities, swimming pool, and grocery store opened later as Harvardevens developed. The community was managed by Fletcher Wood Taft (Harvard Class of 1907) who represented the University and attended to the residents' needs. Residents held their own social events and hosted events from the greater Harvard community such as a performance of "St. Joan" by the Veterans Theater Workshop of Harvard in March 1947.
Harvardevens was slow to fill at first due to the long and costly 32 mile commute by train to Cambridge. Due to vacancies in early 1947, Harvardevens was opened to veteran students from the University of Massachusetts (Fort Devens). By September 1947, the village was full to capacity. In 1948, the United States Army decided to reactivate the Harvardevens Village property of Fort Devens for draftee training and required that Harvard return the buildings by June 30, 1949. Families were allowed to remain in their Harvardevens apartments until they found other housing or until the June deadline.

Biographical Note on Fletcher Wood Taft

Fletcher Wood Taft (1884-1958) was a graduate of Harvard College (Class of 1907) and served as Resident Director of Harvardevens Village from 1946 to June 1949. Taft was born on July 30, 1884 in Dedham, Massachusetts to Ezra Fletcher Taft and Emma Howe (Browne) Taft. After attending Cambridge Latin School, Taft received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1907. After graduation, he worked at Carters Ink Company, Cambridge MA; Massachusetts Town Planning Association; as editor of the Lexington Minuteman; and at Harvard's Radio Research Laboratory. After World War II, Taft was hired as Resident Manager of Harvardevens Village, where he worked from its opening in 1946 to its closing in June 1949. In addition to living on-site, Taft had a wide-range of managerial duties controlling all aspects of Harvardevens housing, facilities, and community programming.
In 1913, he married Margaret Guild of Providence, Rhode Island. The couple had three children: Howland Guild Taft, Theodore Browne Taft, and Katharine (Taft) Saulnier. Theodore Browne Taft worked with his father at Harvardevens Village in 1947 as Assistant to the Business Manager.
After the Harvardevens Village closed, Taft retired to his home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire where he died on August 7, 1958.



The collection is arranged in three series:

Scope and Content

These photographs document the facilities and community life at Harvardevens Village, Harvard's post-World War II temporary housing community for married student veterans in Fort Devens near Ayer, Massachusetts. The photographs were taken by unknown photographers between 1947 and 1949 with the bulk of the collection taken in 1947. These photographs provide a record of the domestic life of married veteran students in post-World War II New England. Subjects also include Harvard facilities, families of military personnel, and student and suburban life. The photographs were originally housed in a photograph album but were removed for conservation reasons.
This collection consists of 84 photographic prints and the original photograph album. Photographs include 82 black and white gelatin silver prints and two color Kodachrome prints. The bulk of the prints, 21 x 27 cm. or smaller, are mounted on paper pages. Most of the pages include typewritten captions. Some of the photographs were slipped into album pages unmounted or found loose at the front of the album. Some loose photographs have dates and inscriptions on the recto. The photographs are housed in Mylar sleeves.


This document last updated 2014 August 1.

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