Harvard Dining Association. Records of the Harvard Dining Association : an inventory
Harvard University Archives
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: UAV 326
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard Dining Association
Title: Records of the Harvard Dining Association, 1874-1925 and 1961-1962
Quantity: 1 collection (16.3 cubic feet (20 volumes, 3 document boxes, 1 half document box, 1 flat box,
1 portfolio folder)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Records of the Harvard Dining Association document the first student-run cooperative
dining association at Harvard University, founded in 1874, and provide a record for
50 years of food and dining at Harvard. The records include the Association's forms
and notices, constitution, menus, minutes, financial records, and invoices.
Items in this collection were previously cataloged separately, as individual items
or in small collections. The material was re-processed in 2010, combining all of the
Harvard University Archives' holdings of Harvard Dining Association records to create
one collection. 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 Juliana Kuipers in September 2010.
The Records of the Dining Association are open for research. Permission of the University
Archives is required for publishing.
Harvard Dining Association. Records of the Harvard Dining Association, 1874-1925 and
1961-1962. UAV 326, Harvard University Archives.
The Chest of 1900
contains reports by both the Association's auditor and its steward, as well as dinner
menus for March 1900.
Records of the Thayer Club, ca. 1865-1866 (Harvard University Archives call number
Records of the Foxcroft Club, 1889-1899 (Harvard University Archives call number
Records of the Randall Hall Association, 1898-1909 (Harvard University Archives call
number HUD 3730)
Following the English tradition, 17th century students at Harvard College ate at least
one meal together in a dining hall (also known as "dining in commons.") The original
College Hall, as well as both of the Harvard Halls that replaced it (constructed in
1679 and 1766 respectively), contained a dining hall. In 1816, the dining hall was
moved to the new University Hall. Due perhaps to the less than satisfactory nature
of the food served, students increasingly preferred to board elsewhere, despite College
laws forbidding them from doing so. In 1825, pressure on the College administration
to allow students to dine outside the college had grown so strong the laws were finally
changed. As a result, by 1849 very few students were dining in commons, and the practice
The lack of economical dining options proved a hardship for poorer students. In 1865,
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Andrew Preston Peabody and benefactor Nathaniel
Thayer (hon. A.B. 1866) rented the former terminal station of the Harvard Railroad
Branch to establish the Thayer Commons, housing the Thayer Club. This independent
and voluntary dining association provided board at cost to about 150 undergraduates.
The popularity of this venture inspired the University to revive the tradition of
dining in commons. In 1874 the Corporation established the Harvard Dining Association
in the newly constructed Memorial Hall, built as a memorial to Harvard graduates who
fought for the Union cause during the Civil War.
The Harvard Dining Association consisted of the students (later changed to anyone
connected with the University) boarding at Memorial Hall, and was governed by a president,
vice-president, and two directors representing each school and College class. According
to the original plans for the Association, the officers were to "regulate the diet
in the Hall, preserve order, and exercise a general control over the expenditures
of the Association," and to "receive and consider all complaints about the food and
service." The Association also selected an auditor from among the members, whose job
was to make written orders for all purchases, to approve all bills, to keep lists
of boarding members, and "in general to supervise purchases and expenditures." After
1878, the auditor was appointed by the Corporation.
The Corporation initially advanced the money to furnish the dining hall and the kitchen,
and as necessary, advanced the money needed to pay the Association's bills, collecting
interest as the money was repaid. The Corporation maintained some control over the
Association by appointing a steward, responsible for making all purchases for the
Association upon the written orders of the auditor and for hiring and supervising
The Association provided enrolled diners with the choice of two plans: the American
plan, which included breakfast, à la carte lunch and dinner within the weekly rate
for board, or the European plan with only à la carte meals.
Students who could not obtain seats in Memorial Hall or who could not afford the
cost of the plan could become members of the Foxcroft Club, another cooperative dining
association organized in 1889. The Foxcroft Club, which became the Randall Hall Association
in 1899 when it moved to the new Randall Hall, had a $3 annual membership fee and
offered students the option to pay per meal and order à la carte.
Both the Harvard Dining Association and the Randall Hall Association were temporarily
overseen by a Managing Committee in 1909. The Committee was composed of three members:
Jerome Davis Greene, Secretary to the Corporation; Walter Safford Burke, Inspector
of Grounds and Buildings; and Edward Huidekoper Wells (AB 1897), Curator of Modern
English Literature and Secretary for Appointments. At the Committee's recommendation,
the University Dining Council was created to oversee both dining associations. The
Council consisted of nine members: three were appointed by the Corporation, three
were elected by the members of the Harvard Dining Association, and three were elected
by the members of the Randall Hall Association.
Despite efforts to keep costs low and attract more members, attendance in the Memorial
Hall dining room began to wane in 1910. In a last attempt to retain Memorial Hall
as a viable dining option, in September 1924 the membership fee was abolished and
the Hall was opened to all students. These changes did not solve the problem of low
membership, and the University was forced to close Memorial Hall in 1925; the last
meal was served on January 10. Until dining halls were opened in the new student houses,
built in the 1930s, the only campus dining option for upper class students was the
Harvard Union. Regular student dining did not resume in Memorial Hall until 1994,
when, after extensive renovations, the dining hall, renamed Annenberg Hall, was opened
as the freshman dining hall.
- Batchelder, Samuel. Bits of Harvard History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1924.
- I. General information about the Association
- II. Forms and notices
- III. Constitution
- IV. Papers on the Irish stew question
- V. Menus
- VI. Minutes of the Board of Directors
- VII. Financial records
- VIII. Invoices
The Records of the Harvard Dining Association document the first student-run cooperative
dining association at Harvard University and provide a record of 50 years of food
and dining at Harvard. The records include the Association's forms and notices, constitution,
menus, minutes, financial records, and invoices. The bulk of the records consist of
twenty volumes of invoices, which provide extensive documentation of the items purchased
by the Association during the first 25 years of its existence. Although the other
series are less comprehensive, the collection traces the Association's beginnings
as a successfully student-run cooperative through its gradual decline in popularity
and increased supervision by the Corporation. Documents record changes in administration,
food served, food servers, and students' dining habits, and serve as a resource for
investigating local foodways in the late nineteenth century.
This document last updated 2010 September 27.
- Series: I. General information about the Association, 1874-1925 and 1961-1962 0.02 cubic feet (2 folders)
Scope and content: This series consists of newsclippings and articles about the Association. Newsclippings
provide limited and general information regarding hours, fees, management, and membership,
and describe the opening of the Association in 1874, its reorganization in 1924, and
its closing in 1925. There are also clippings about the petition against Irish stew
circulated in 1895. Articles include Robert W. Greenleaf's "The Diet of Harvard Students,"
and two brief histories of the Association written by Charles R. Nutter for the Class
Former call number: Formerly classified as HUD 3326 Miscellany
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 1. Newsclippings, 1874-1925
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 2. Articles, 1893 and 1961-1962
- Series: II. Forms and notices, 1875-1924 and undated 0.2 cubic feet (10 folders, 2 portfolio folders)
Scope and content: This series consists of items produced by the Association and distributed to its members.
Included are rules and regulations, blank forms, tickets, election and campaign materials,
communications to the members and reports on changes in the administration of the
Association. Topics discussed in the communications to members include proposed changes
to the administration, announcement of appointments, and behavior of members. The
majority of changes proposed or reported on concern increasing the number of members,
maintaining the variety of food choices, and keeping down the costs to members.
Processing information: A photograph of the Cosmopolitan Table at the Foxcroft Club, previously classified
as HUD 3226, has been moved to the Records of the Foxcroft Club (Harvard University
Archives call number 3404).
Former call number: Formerly classified as HUD 3326 Miscellany. Exceptions are noted at the folder level.
- UAV 326 Box 2, Folder 1. Rules and regulations [oversized], 1882-1891 and undated (1 portfolio folder)
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 4. Communications to the members of the Association,1889-1924 and undated
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 5. Election materials, 1896-1906 and undated
Contains ballots and campaign items produced by members of the Association and presumably
distributed in the Hall.
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 7. Seating assignment forms, 1885-1909
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 8. Tickets, permissions to board, coupon book, 1894-1909
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 9. A general statement of the relation of the members to the management of the Harvard
Dining Association, February 1884
Date: February 1884
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 10. Report of Special Committee of Harvard Dining Association for investigation of the
general management of Memorial Hall, submitted February 22, 1888
Date: February 22, 1888
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 11. Changes at Memorial Hall, by H. L. Blackwell, November 10, 1903
Date: November 10, 1903
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 12. Memorial Hall, Summer School restaurant, 1907
Pamphlet describing Memorial Hall, presumably distributed to Summer School students.
Includes photographs of the kitchen and dining room.
- Series: IV. Papers on the Irish stew question, 1895 0.02 cubic feet (2 folders)
Scope and content: In 1895, a petition was circulated among the members of the Association requesting
that Irish stew (a traditional Irish mutton dish with potatoes and onions) no longer
be served. Originally posted on the bulletin board in Memorial Hall, where it allegedly
received 200 signatures, the petition was removed by the Association management. A
blue book with a second petition was then placed in the auditor's office. The petitioners
also submitted a letter to the HarvardCrimson, requesting that "the use of Irish stew should be discontinued in Memorial Hall ....
it is disagreeable in taste." Students balked at the frequent serving of Irish stew
since their only other option was to buy items on the extra order list.
Related material: Newspaper clippings on the subject, including the published letter to the Crimson, can be found in the Newsclippings series.
Former call number: Formerly classified as HUD 3326.896 Petition
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 17. [Petition to the Directors of the Harvard Dining Association, 1895]
- UAV 326 Box 1, Folder 18. [To the editors of the Harvard Crimson, 1895]
- Series: VI. Minutes of the Board of Directors, 1874-1890 0.17 cubic feet (2 volumes)
Acquisition information: Donated by Carl T. Tucker, Director of Dining Hall, donated February 27, 1959
Scope and content
: This series consists of two volumes kept by the Board of Directors to record meeting
minutes and lists of officers. Topics discussed at the meetings include nominations
and elections, reports of officers, salaries, fees and allowances for absence, waiters,
bills of fare, hours of dining, club and athletic training tables, complaints, visitors
and female guests, and the expulsion of members. Forms and notices produced by the
Association are pasted into the volumes.
Volume I contains a table of contents in the back of the volume, summarizing significant
acts of the Board.
Former call number: Formerly classified as HUD 3326.500 Minutes
- UAV 326 Box 5, Folder 1. October 1874-December 13, 1881
Date: October 1874-December 13, 1881
- UAV 326 Box 5, Folder 2. December 21, 1881-November 17, 1890
Date: December 21, 1881-November 17, 1890
- Series: VIII. Invoices, 1874-1899 14.75 cubic feet (20 volumes)
Scope and content: This series consists of volumes containing invoices, which provide extensive documentation
of the items purchased by the Association during the first 25 years of its existence.
Purchases consisted of foodstuffs, including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood,
butter, eggs, milk, beverages, and dry goods, as well as items for the preparation
and serving of food, such as coal, gas, plate and glassware, and furnishings. The
chronological arrangement of the invoices makes it possible to track changes in the
bill of fare over the years, broader food trends, and the popularity or availability
of particular items. The invoices indicate which vendors the Association favored,
as well as the seasonality of the fresh fruits and vegetables ordered: asparagus,
rhubarb, and strawberries in the spring giving way to tomatoes and melon in late summer,
followed by orders for sweet potatoes, apples, squash, and parsnips in the fall and
winter. Occasional comments on invoices, especially those for butter and eggs, give
insight into the impact of weather on production and the relationships between farmers
Conditions on use and access: Most of these volumes are extremely large and in fragile condition. Consult reference
staff for special handling guidelines.
Former call number: Formerly classified as UAV 325.241 Invoices
- UAV 326 Box 7. November 1874-February 1875
Date: November 1874-February 1875
- UAV 326 Box 8. March-May 1875
Date: March-May 1875
- UAV 326 Box 9. October 1875-June 1876
Date: October 1875-June 1876
- UAV 326 Box 10. September 1876-November 1877
Date: September 1876-November 1877
- UAV 326 Box 11. November 1877-June 1878
Date: November 1877-June 1878
- UAV 326 Box 12. July 1878-July 1879
Date: July 1878-July 1879
- UAV 326 Box 13. August 1879-March 1880
Date: August 1879-March 1880
- UAV 326 Box 14. March-December 1880
Date: March-December 1880
- UAV 326 Box 15. December 1880-July 1881
Date: December 1880-July 1881
- UAV 326 Box 16. October 1881-July 1882
Date: October 1881-July 1882
- UAV 326 Box 17. September 1882-July 1883
Date: September 1882-July 1883
- UAV 326 Box 18. September 1883-March 1885
Date: September 1883-March 1885
- UAV 326 Box 19. March 1885-March 1887
Date: March 1885-March 1887
- UAV 326 Box 20. April 1887-March 1889
Date: April 1887-March 1889
- UAV 326 Box 21. April 1889-February 1891
Date: April 1889-February 1891
- UAV 326 Box 22. March 1891-November 1892
Date: March 1891-November 1892
- UAV 326 Box 23. December 1892-October 1894
Date: December 1892-October 1894
- UAV 326 Box 24. November 1894-June 1896
Date: November 1894-June 1896
- UAV 326 Box 25. September 1896-February 1898
Date: September 1896-February 1898
- UAV 326 Box 26. February 1898-June 1899
Date: February 1898-June 1899