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UAIII 15.22

Harvard College (1636-1780). Scholars of the House. District reports created by the Scholars of the House, 1738-1769: an inventory

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAIII 15.22
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard College (1636-1780). Scholars of the House.
Title: District reports created by the Scholars of the House
Date(s): 1738-1769
Quantity: 5.64 cubic feet (20 flat boxes, 1 half legal document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Scholars of the House were students appointed by the Harvard Corporation in the 17th and 18th centuries to monitor the buildings, rooms, and fences of the College, and to provide a quarterly accounting to the Treasurer of damages and perpetrators. The collection contains the quarterly district reports created by the Scholars of the House from 1738-1769 documenting the occupants of Harvard's dormitories and providing information about the physical design, use, and upkeep of the College's residential buildings. Though limited in descriptive details, the reports offer a resource for information on 18th-century student life at Harvard, including roommate assignments, dormitory furnishings, and cellar use.

Acquisition information:

The documents in this collection are University records and were acquired in the course of University business.

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. Only pre-19th century district records were processed as part of UAIII 15.22. 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 District reports created by the Scholars of the House was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Researcher Access:

The district reports are open for research. Fragile documents are enclosed in polyester sheets that may limit access to page versos. Pending conservation, approximately twelve district reports in Box 21 are closed to research due to their fragile state. These records are largely illegible and obscured by mold. In addition, some records are so severely damaged that their contents are not yet known.

Preferred Citation:

Harvard College (1636-1780). Scholars of the House. District reports created by the Scholars of the House, 1738-1769. UAIII 15.22, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives

Historical Note

The Scholars of the House were students appointed by the Harvard Corporation to monitor the buildings, rooms, and fences of the College, and to provide a quarterly accounting, known as the district reports, of damages and any responsible parties to the Treasurer. The Scholars' responsibilities were twofold: to monitor the condition of the College's property, and to monitor the activities of students.
The duties of the Scholars of the House were first specified in the College Laws recorded in the March 27, 1667 meeting of the Harvard Overseers. The Scholars' were instructed to inventory the condition of the chamber doors, shelves, tables, windows, benches, common doors, chimneys, floors, spouts, and gutters, and afterwards to inspect them regularly for damage. Scholars of the House kept lists of room occupancies, and investigated the causes and parties responsible for damaged property.
By the beginning of the 18th century, six students were appointed each September as Scholars of the House. The Scholars of the House were typically undergraduates who lived in the dormitories. They usually held the position for one to two years, and were paid an annual stipend. The stipend was a type of financial aid, and the appointed students were often attending the College on scholarships.
The Corporation oversaw the creation of the College's districts. In 1707, the Corporation voted that the two College houses (Harvard Hall and Stoughton Hall) should be divided by the Tutors among the Scholars of the House. The September 30, 1725 Faculty Minutes laid out the specific parameters of six districts:
Following the destruction of Harvard Hall II by fire on January 24, 1764 and the building of Hollis Hall and Harvard Hall III in 1762 and 1764 respectively, the College districts were redrawn in 1766, and a seventh district was added:
The Harvard Corporation appointed the last Scholars of the House in September 1772. In April 1796, the Corporation voted to reassign the responsibilities of the Scholars of the House to the Tutors and Librarian, and instead of looseleaf district reports, information was to be entered into account books titled "State of the Chambers."

17th and 18th century Harvard College Dormitories

References

Arrangement

The District reports created by the Scholars of the House are arranged first by academic year and then by district number. Undated District report fragments are listed at the end of this finding aid.

Scope and Content

The collection contains district reports created by the Scholars of the House from 1738 through 1769.* District reports were submitted quarterly, usually in September, December, March, and June of each academic year on loose sheets of paper. Generally the reports include a short description of the district, and a list of the chambers with their occupants and the number of shelves and benches, and any cellar renters associated with the district. Cellars were rented by students and tutors to store of fuel and stores. The reports occasionally contain short notes of room or equipment status and damages, but are usually limited to "in good repair" or "needs repair." The district report for the May 11, 1745 2nd District report includes a list of rules "To be observed by the Scholars of ye House in Harvd College."
The district reports document the occupants of Harvard's dormitories and provide information about the physical design, use, and upkeep of the College's residential buildings. Though limited in descriptive details, the reports offer a resource for information on 18th-century student life at Harvard, including roommate assignments, dormitory furnishings, and cellar use.
The reports are in various physical condition, but most are fragile and some are only fragments or are illegible due to faded ink.
*Note regarding date conventions: Some documents dated between January 1 and March 25 before 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g., 1738/9 February 27. This convention was used in England and the North American colonies between 1582 and 1752. The first date refers to the year according to the Julian calendar, which began on March 25, while the second refers to the year according to the Gregorian calendar, which began on January 1. In determining the date span for the entire collection, only the Gregorian calendar year was used.

General

This document last updated 2017 November 6.

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