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UAI 20.910

Harvard University. Corporation. Records relating to the adoption of crimson as the official Harvard University color, 1858, 1910, 1950 : an inventory

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAI 20.910
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard University. Corporation
Title: Records relating to the adoption of crimson as the official Harvard University color, 1858, 1910, 1950
Date(s): 1858, 1910, 1950
Quantity: .1 cubic feet (2 pamphlet binders, 1 flat box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Crimson was first used as the Harvard College color by the Harvard crew team at the Boston City Regatta on June 19, 1858 and was officially designated as Harvard University's color by a vote of the Harvard Corporation on May 23, 1910. Crimson is now used for various Harvard related insignia including pennants, doctoral gowns, neckties, and football helmets. This collection consists of two crimson silk handkerchiefs, one worn by the Harvard crew team in the Boston City Regatta in 1858, and a reproduction made in 1910 based on the 1858 original handkerchief. The collection also includes extracts from the records of the Harvard Corporation, the Harvard student newspaper, The Magenta, a book entitled, The University of Pennsylvania, Franklin's College; and memoranda explaining the adoption of crimson as Harvard's official color.

Acquisition information:

The items in this collection are University records and were acquired in the course of University business. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the folder description.
Aquisitions
  • 1938 September 26, Samuel Eliot Morison
  • 1970 April 2, Mason Hammond
  • Accession number: 10118; 1984 July 1
  • Processing Information:

    This inventory was created in May 2014 by Dominic P. Grandinetti from a cursory inspection of the material and a variety of information sources. Titles were devised by the archivist.

    Researcher Access:

    Open for research.

    Preferred Citation:

    Harvard University. Corporation. Records relating to the adoption of crimson as the official Harvard University color, 1858, 910, 1950. UAI 20.910, Harvard University Archives.

    Related material

    Crimson color, Harvard, sample color chips (reference vertical file): for use in matching the official crimson color.

    Historical note

    Crimson was first used as the Harvard College color by the Harvard crew team at the Boston City Regatta on June 19, 1858. The Harvard crew team, composed of largely graduate students, including future Harvard President Charles W. Eliot (1834-1926), agreed to the use of crimson silk handkerchiefs so that spectators could differentiate the Harvard crew team from other teams during the regatta. With the crimson silk handkerchiefs tied around their heads, Harvard beat six other boat teams in a three-mile race on June 19, and another seven boat teams in a six-mile race on July 5. Nonetheless, during the 1860s and early 1870s, Harvard students' color of choice wavered between crimson and magenta because it was difficult for the various athletic teams to buy crimson for their insignia; hence, magenta was used as a substitute. On May 6, 1875, faculty, students, and alumni, met at Holden Chapel to debate and decide between crimson and magenta as Harvard's school color. A vote was taken and crimson won by a significant margin. The next day the student newspaper, The Magenta, renamed itself The Harvard Crimson. In 1910, newly elected Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell became interested in determining what the correct color for Harvard should be. Under his supervision, dyeing and cleaning company Lewandos in Watertown, Massachusetts produced a hue that Lowell referred to as "arterial red." This shade of crimson was officially designated as Harvard University's color by a vote of the Harvard Corporation on May 23, 1910 and is now used for various Harvard related insignia including pennants, doctoral gowns, neckties, and football helmets.

    References

    Scope and Contents

    The collection consists chiefly of extracts from the records of the Harvard Corporation, the Harvard student newspaper, The Magenta, a book entitled, The University of Pennsylvania, Franklin's College; and memoranda explaining the adoption of crimson as Harvard's official color. The collection also includes two crimson silk handkerchiefs.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2016 November 10.

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    hua29014