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HUM 47

Biglow, William, 1773-1844. Junior Classology Collection, 1792-1843: an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 47
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Biglow, William, 1773-1844.
Title: Junior Classology Collection, 1792-1843
Date(s): 1792-1843
Quantity: .21 cubic feet (1 document boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: William Biglow (1773-1844) was a schoolmaster, songwriter and author, who graduated from Harvard in 1794. In 1792, as a Harvard student, Biglow wrote Junior Classology, a humorous song describing all of the members of the Class of 1794 as they prepared for an alcohol-fueled "high go." The Junior Classology Collection contains various manifestations of the song, written by Biglow under the pseudonym Sawney Biglow, "Poet Laureat to the 'Potation Society," as well as five newspaper clippings related to its publication in 1793. It was not uncommon for Harvard students in the late 1700s to write humorous and satirical songs and poems. The multiple manifestations of Biglow's Junior Classology speak to its popularity as a piece of college humor from the eighteenth century.

Acquisition information:

The various manuscript copies were acquired by donation from Willis Patten Woodman (Harvard AB 1895) on January 22, 1902 and the American Academy in Rome on April 15, 1933; one handwritten copy purchased with the George & Elizabeth Kramer-Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck Fund. A typewritten copy owned by Mrs. Theodore T.C. Bijou acquired by donation in June 1964.

Processing Information:

The material was first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. The material was re-processed in 2010 and reclassified as HUM 47. A list of superceded call numbers is available at the end of the finding aid. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in August 2010.
Preservation and description of the Junior Classology Collection was supported, in part, by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Researcher Access:

The Junior Classology Collection is open for research.

Copying Restriction:

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Online access:

All of the papers have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Preferred Citation:

Biglow, William. Junior Classology Collection, 1792-1843. HUM 47, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

Additional materials related to the Harvard Class of 1794 can be found in the Harvard University Archives.

Biographical Note

William Biglow (1773-1844) was a schoolmaster, songwriter, and author, who graduated from Harvard in 1794.
Biglow was born in Natick, Mass. on September 22, 1773. He received an AB from Harvard in 1794 and AM in 1804. In 1792, as a Harvard student, Biglow wrote Junior Classology. After graduation he worked as an educator and served as headmaster of the Boston Public Latin School from 1805 to 1814. Biglow also wrote for local magazines, including the Federal Orrery, Massachusetts Messenger, and the Amherst, New Hampshire Village Messenger, which he edited in 1796. In his later years, he served as a proofreader in the Harvard University Printing Office, and wrote histories of Natick and Sherburne, Mass. He died on January 12, 1844.

References

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in three series:

Scope and Content

This collection contains various manifestations of Junior Classology, a song written by William Biglow under the pseudonym Sawney Biglow, as well as five newspaper clippings related to its publication in 1793.
Junior Classology is a humorous song describing all of the members of the Class of 1794 as they prepared for an alcohol-fueled "high go." The rhythm of the piece was based on the song "Heathen Mythology" or "Songs of Shepherds," which begins "Songs of shepherds in rustical roundelays, / Formed in fancy and whistled on reeds, / Sung to solace young nymphs upon holidays, / Are too unworthy for wonderful deeds..." and ends, "Health to those that love hunting the hare."
The manuscript copies include the introduction, "A new song in imitation of the "Heathen Mythology." By Sawney Biglow, Esq. Poet Laureat to the 'Potation Society,' in Harvard University.
It was not uncommon for Harvard students in the late 1700s to write humorous and satirical songs and poems. The multiple manifestations of Biglow's Junior Classology speak to its popularity as a piece of college humor from the eighteenth century. On June 29, 1793, Junior Classology was printed in the Columbian Centinel. Its publication prompted a response by an unidentified "Squire Tobey" in the Massachusetts Mercury on July 2, 1793. A sarcastic exchange followed in the Columbian Centinel between "Squire Sawney" and "Squire Tobey" titled "Assology" after Squire Tobey's suggestion in the Mercury that Biglow write "an essay on Assology." In 1843, the piece was printed and published in pamphlet form.

General

This document last updated 2015 April 29.

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