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John Harvard (clergyman)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Harvard
John Harvard statue.jpg
Born(1607-11-26)26 November 1607
Southwark, Surrey, England
Died14 September 1638(1638-09-14) (aged 30)
Cause of deathTuberculosis
Alma materEmmanuel College, Cambridge
Known forA founder of Harvard College
Spouse(s)Ann Sadler
JohnHarvard Signature.jpg

John Harvard (1607–1638) was an English minister in America, "a godly gentleman and a lover of learning"[1] whose deathbed[2] bequest to the "schoale or Colledge" founded two years earlier by the Massachusetts Bay Colony was so gratefully received that it was consequently ordered "that the Colledge agreed upon formerly to bee built at Cambridg shalbee called Harvard Colledge."[3] The institution considers him the most honored of its founders – those whose efforts and contributions in its early days "ensure[d] its permanence," and a statue in his honor is a prominent feature of Harvard Yard.

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Welcome to the second segment of the History of LIS and LIS Professions for SLIS: 701 Introduction to Library and Information Studies. To recap, in the first segment, I discussed the conditions under which libraries (past and present) flourish. I reviewed the relationship between communication of information and records keeping. I also highlighted texts and libraries from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Please review the Readings and Websites section of the lesson plan module on Blackboard for the required materials for this lesson. By the end of this discussion, you will be able to: analyze which preconditions for having a library significantly impacted library development in Western Europe; describe how monastic orders contributed to the preservation of text of late antiquity as well as the establishment of medieval libraries; summarize how the advent of the printing press impacted bibliographic control in modern libraries; compare and contrast the types of libraries that developed in colonial North America; and identify the classification schemes introduced in the United States in the late 19th century. As you will recall, libraries thrive under three conditions, one of which is political stability. During the medieval period major civilizations faced political, linguistic, and religious upheavals; culminating in an ideological rift between East and West. The medieval period was marked by successive power shifts between the superpowers of the ancient world - Persia and Rome; compounded by invasion and conquest of both superpowers by the Steppe Empire of Central Asia. Scholars of European history refer to events between the 5th and 15th centuries CE as the Dark or Middle Ages and map the era from the juncture beginning with the fracturing of the Roman Empire to the emergence of the Italian Renaissance movement. During this period, archives and libraries remained closely associated with sanctioned religious organizations. Much like digital and web technologies have impacted today's libraries, technological innovations of late antiquity impacted libraries of the medieval period. Vellum, thin layers of stretched cow skin, replaced papyri as a medium for recording written information. Woodblock printing and paper making were introduced by China, and manuscript formats shifted from rolls to codices. Monastic libraries have been credited with preserving the written record of antiquity. They were usually attached to monasteries or other religious foundations and primarily functioned to transcribe religious texts and produce religious manuscripts. Nalanda, a Buddhist monastery and university in India founded by the Gupta Empire, was renowned for its extensive collections. Scholars from China, Greece, and Persia attended the learning center. The library contained religious manuscripts as well as texts on astronomy, astrology, grammar, literature, medicine, and philosophy. The outcome of the fall of Rome in 476 CE fractured the Roman Empire; resulting in the collapse of the Western counterpart, Western Europe; while the Eastern counterpart, Byzantium remained intact. Church scriptoriums were instrumental to both the flourishing of Byzantine libraries and the reestablishment of Western European libraries. Byzantium monks are credited with preserving Greek and Roman classics as well as creating illumination depictions in the Bibles of the Middle Ages. In Western Europe, monasteries were the only institutions with the ability to sustain the necessary conditions for library development. As hermitages, they provided seclusion for Christian refugees beleaguered by the pervading decline within the society. Monastic libraries were small and contained texts collected by monks. Manuscripts were common property and formed the nucleus of the church library. Texts were added to the collection by scribal monks who carefully copied books borrowed from other collections. Charlemagne was the first monarch to emerge and administer social reforms after the collapse of Western Europe. Recognizing the need for literacy, he called for educational reform and monasteries assumed responsibility for establishing educational centers in the 7th to 11th centuries. Monastic libraries developed in the region as a result of the service of monks in monastic orders. In the order of St. Benedict, the Rule of St. Benedict called for: poverty and communal living, physical labor, reading, and manual copying of books. The Benedictine scriptoria proved to be essential to the establishment of libraries in Western Europe during this time. Monks of the Carthusian and Cistercian orders adopted library and reading rules, and Franciscan friars developed libraries for clergy and public use. As libraries were opened to users outside of religious or learning centers, chaining systems were implemented as measures for collections management, to secure text and prevent theft. Other innovations during the medieval period included the use of the paper mill in the 8th century CE, movable-type printing systems in the 11th and 14th centuries CE, and the Gutenberg printing press in the 15th century CE. Libraries have been associated with religious and political authority since antiquity. Libraries of medieval Europe were also connected with the Church and were officially sanctioned by Roman authority, i.e., the Catholic Church. The impact of the printing press on libraries in Europe was closely related to the religious reforms taking place at the time. Scribes were no longer needed to produce manuscripts. The Church was also losing control over information, as religious reformers like Martin Luther were able to quickly spread ideas through the use of pamphlets. By the 16th century, the Parliament of England passed the Suppression of Religious Houses Act, setting in motion the closure and dissolution of many monastic libraries across Europe. Other types of libraries developed during this period as well. Please read your text for more details regarding medieval Islamic libraries as well as cathedral and university libraries in Western Europe. Book printing had a tremendous impact on book production and libraries of the Modern era and it was a labor-intensive process. Movable-type technology had been introduced in the 11th century by the Chinese inventor, Bi Sheng. Sheng used ceramic typeset made of baked clay for his printing system. Wáng Zhēn, a Chinese magistrate, improved upon the process in the 14th century by adding a revolving type case and wooden typeset. When German inventor Johann Gutenberg mechanized the movable-type system in the 15th century, book publishing was revolutionized in Europe. Publishing houses gained momentum with the introduction of the printing press and helped the spread of books. The advent of printing galvanized book publishing; the rise of publishing houses, and translated into increased library collection sizes and the need for collections management. Library catalogs, publishing, and printing bibliographies became methods for organizing and sharing bibliographic information. Public libraries, in the contemporary sense of the term did not emerge until the mid-19th century but as with all things in life, there were exceptions. The Malatestiana Library was opened in Cesena, Italy in 1454 CE. The UNESCO Memory of the World Register lists it as the last ancient library dating before the invention of printing. Malatesta Novello, collaborated with Franciscans to sponsor the library but entrusted the collection to the Commune of Cesena. Novello wanted the library to be a universal, humanistic library open to the public. Chetham's Library was established as a free, reference library in Manchester, England in 1653 CE. At the time, it was the only independent place of study in the north of England. Library benefactor, Humphrey Chetham wanted the library constructed for the education of "the sons of honest, industrious, and painful parents." Chetham's will of 1651 CE bequeathed the library for the use of "scholars and others well affected" and instructed the librarian to "require nothing of any man that cometh" into the house. The library has been in continuous use for over 350 years. Colonial North American libraries were either set up with endowments from English colonists and emigrants, or fashioned after organizational methods of England. John Harvard, a dissenting minister from England, emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1638 CE, he bequeathed his library to a yet-to-be created college of the colony. The college, once established took the name of its first benefactor and Harvard's collection of books seeded the Harvard University Library. Parochial libraries were established in the colonies from 1696-1704 CE by Anglican clergyman Thomas Bray. Bray envisioned three types of libraries; parochial libraries, tied to Anglican parishes; provincial libraries, located in key towns and accessible to all, and layman's libraries, lending libraries for parishioners. Subscription libraries evolved from book clubs and were private libraries funded through membership fees. The first subscription library in colonial North America was the Library Company of Philadelphia, set up by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 CE. The Charleston Library Society in South Carolina was the third subscription library of the colonies; it was established in 1748 CE. Circulating or rental libraries were operated by booksellers or printing shops that charged fees for borrowing books. For the remainder of this segment I will focus on public libraries in the United States and recommend you read the text for information regarding national, academic, and special libraries. The first public library in colonial North America was housed in the Boston Town House. Robert Keayne, an emigrant and tailor from England, bequest funds to the town of Boston for the construction of the Town House. His collection of books was donated to the library in 1656 CE. The Boston Town House was destroyed by fire in 1711 CE. The conceptual foundation for the modern public lending library in the United States sprouted from ideas relating to access, sharing, and relevance of materials which were rooted in the principles of the provincial, subscription, and circulating libraries. These principles coincided with ideas promoted in the Lyceum movement, which advocated for education and other social reforms along with the building of libraries. These were the precursors for the public library movement in the United States. The first tax-supported public library in the United States was the Peterborough Town Library in New Hampshire; founded in 1833 CE at a Peterborough town meeting. Funds were allocated from the State Literary Fund to purchase books to establish a library for use by all citizens of Peterborough. The library was housed in the general store and post office. The city of Boston was authorized to establish and maintain a public library in 1848 CE, a librarian was appointed by the city council in 1852 CE, and the Boston Public Library opened to the public in 1854 CE. In 1870 CE, the library opened a branch in East Boston making it the first public library system. Today, public libraries in the United States share certain fundamental characteristics. They are: supported by tax dollars; governed by a board specifically appointed to serve the public interest; open to all; voluntary; established by state law; and provide services without charge to users. The public library movement began in 1853 CE with the first librarians conference. After the Civil War, the library movement spread rapidly across the country. 1876 CE was a watershed year for libraries and librarianship in the United States. It was the founding year of the American Library Association; and Melvil Dewey introduced the Dewey Decimal Classification system in his publication, Classification and Subject Index for Cataloging and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library. Other milestones included: Charles Cutter's introduction of the Cutter Expansive Classification system in 1882 CE; the commissioning of the first Carnegie library in the United States in 1886 CE; the opening of Columbia College's School of Library Economy in 1887 CE, and development of the Library of Congress Classification schedules in 1897 CE. These and other achievements marked what has been termed the "professionalization of librarianship" and introduced standardized practices for arranging collections and cataloging materials . The next segment of this module continues with a discussion of the process of professionalization and the making of the contemporary librarian. I suggest you read your text for information regarding medieval Islamic libraries , cathedral and university libraries of Western Europe, and the development of national, academic, and special libraries, as well as review the required materials listed in the Readings and Websites section of the learning module.



Early life

Harvard was born and raised in Southwark, Surrey, England, (now part of London), the fourth of nine children of Robert Harvard (1562–1625), a butcher and tavern owner, and his wife Katherine Rogers (1584–1635), a native of Stratford-upon-Avon whose father, Thomas Rogers (1540–1611), was an associate of Shakespeare's father (both served on the borough corporation's council). Harvard was baptised in the parish church of St Saviour's (now Southwark Cathedral)[4] and attended St Saviour's Grammar School, where his father was a member of the governing body and a warden of the Parish Church.

In 1625, bubonic plague reduced the immediate family to only John, his brother Thomas, and their mother. Katherine was soon remarried‍—‌firstly in 1626 to John Elletson (1580–1626), who died within a few months, then (1627) to Richard Yearwood (1580–1632). She died in 1635, Thomas in 1637.

Left with some property, Harvard's mother was able to send him to Emmanuel College, Cambridge,[5] where he earned his B.A. in 1632[6] and M.A. in 1635, and was subsequently ordained a dissenting minister.[7]

Marriage and career

In 1636, Harvard married Ann Sadler (1614–55) of Ringmer, sister of his college classmate John Sadler, at St Michael the Archangel Church, in the parish of South Malling, Lewes, East Sussex.[citation needed]

In the spring or summer of 1637, the couple emigrated to New England, where Harvard became a freeman of Massachusetts and,[5] settling in Charlestown, a teaching elder of the First Church there[8] and an assistant preacher.[7] In 1638, a tract of land was deeded[clarification needed] to him there, and he was appointed that same year to a committee "to consider of some things tending toward a body of laws."[5][clarification needed]

He built his house on Country Road (later Market Street and now Main Street), next to Gravel Lane, a site that is now Harvard Mall. Harvard's orchard extended up the hill behind his house.[9]


On 14 September 1638, Harvard died of tuberculosis and was buried at Charlestown's Phipps Street Burying Ground.

In 1828, Harvard University alumni erected a granite monument to his memory there,[5][10] his original stone having disappeared during the American Revolution.[8]

Founder of Harvard College

Tablets outside Harvard Yard's Johnston Gate. The tablet on the left quotes from a longer history which continues, "And as we were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard (a godly gentleman and a lover of learning, there living among us) to give the one-half of his estate (it being in all about 1700 £) toward the erecting of a college, and all his library. After him, another gave 300 £; others after them cast in more; and the public hand of the state added the rest." [11]
Emmanuel College window (1884) depicting John Harvard on left
Emmanuel College window (1884) depicting John Harvard on left
Tablets, Emmanuel College chapel
Tablets, Emmanuel College chapel

Two years before Harvard's death the Great and General Court of the Massachu­setts Bay Colony‍—‌desiring to "advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity: dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust"‍—‌appropriated £400 toward a "schoale or colledge"[3] at what was then called Newtowne.[11] In an oral will spoken to his wife[12] the childless Harvard, who had inherited considerable sums from his father, mother, and brother,[13] bequeathed to the school £780‍—‌half of his monetary estate‍—‌with the remainder to his wife;[4] perhaps more importantly[14] he also gave his scholar's library comprising some 329 titles (totaling 400 volumes, some titles being multivolume works).[15]:192 In gratitude, it was subsequently ordered "that the Colledge agreed upon formerly to bee built at Cambridg shalbee called Harvard Colledge." [3] (Even before Harvard's death, Newtowne had been renamed[3] Cambridge, after the English university attended by many early colonists, including Harvard himself.)[16]

Founding "myth"

"Smartass" tourguides[17][18] and the Harvard College undergraduate newspaper[19] commonly assert that John Harvard does not merit the honorific founder, because the Colony's vote had come two years prior to Harvard's bequest. But as detailed in a 1934 letter by the secretary of the Harvard Corporation, the founding of Harvard College was not the act of one but the work of many; John Harvard is therefore consid­ered not the founder, but rather a founder,[20][21] of the school‍—‌though the timeliness and generosity of his contribu­tion have made him the most honored of these:

The quibble over the question whether John Harvard was entitled to be called the Founder of Harvard College seems to me one of the least profitable. The destruc­tion of myths is a legiti­mate sport, but its only justifica­tion is the establish­ment of truth in place of error.

If the founding of a universi­ty must be dated to a split second of time, then the founding of Harvard should perhaps be fixed by the fall of the presi­dent's gavel in announc­ing the passage of the vote of October 28, 1636. But if the founding is to be regarded as a process rather than as a single event [then John Harvard, by virtue of his bequest "at the very threshold of the College's existence and going further than any other contribu­tion made up to that time to ensure its permanence"] is clearly entitled to be consid­ered a founder. The General Court ... acknowl­edged the fact by bestowing his name on the College. This was almost two years before the first President took office and four years before the first students were graduated.

These are all familiar facts and it is well that they should be understood by the sons of Harvard. There is no myth to be destroyed.[22]

Memorials and tributes

A statue in Harvard's honor—not, however, a likeness of him, there being nothing to indicate what he had looked like[7]—is a prominent feature of Harvard Yard (see John Harvard statue) and was featured on a 1986 stamp, part of the United States Postal Service's Great Americans series.[23] A figure representing him also appears in a stained-glass window in the chapel of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.[7][5]

The John Harvard Library in Southwark, London, is named in Harvard's honor, as is the Harvard Bridge that connects Boston to Cambridge.[24] There is a memorial window in his honor in Southwark Cathedral.[25]


  1. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, The founding of Harvard College (1936) Appendix D, and pp 304-5
  2. ^ Conrad Edick Wright, John Harvard: Brief life of a Puritan philanthropist Harvard Magazine. January–February, 2000. "By the time the Harvards settled in Charlestown John must already have been in failing health ... Consumption kills slowly. By the time Harvard died, he knew what he wanted to do with his estate."
  3. ^ a b c d Charter of the President and Fellows of Harvard College
  4. ^ a b Rowston, Guy (2006). Southwark Cathedral – The authorised Guide.
  5. ^ a b c d e Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1892). "Harvard, John" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  6. ^ "Harvard, John (HRVT627J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  7. ^ a b c d Emmanuel College: John Harvard Retrieved 2012-05-01
  8. ^ a b Melnick, Arseny James. "Celebrating the Life and Times of JOHN HARVARD". Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  9. ^ Charlestown Historical Society: Full Historic Timeline
  10. ^ Edward Everett (1850). Orations and speeches on various occasions. I. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. pp. 185–189.
  11. ^ a b New England's First Fruits (1643)
  12. ^ Callan, Richard L. 100 Dears of Solitude: John Harvard Finishes His First Century. The Harvard Crimson. 28 April 1984. Retrieved 13 October 2012
  13. ^ The Harvard Graduates' Magazine. 16. Harvard Graduates' Magazine Association. 1908. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  14. ^ Alfred C. Potter, "The College Library." Harvard Illustrated Magazine, vol. IV no. 6, March 1903, pp. 105–112.
  15. ^ Potter, Alfred Claghorn (1913). Catalogue of John Harvard's library. Cambridge: J. Wilson.
  16. ^ Degler, Carl Neumann (1984). Out of Our Pasts: The Forces That Shaped Modern America. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-131985-3. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  17. ^ Shand-Tucci, Douglas (2001). The Campus Guide: Harvard Universi­ty. Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 46–&#x200B, 51. ISBN 9781568982809.
  18. ^ Primus V (May–June 1999). "The College Pump. Toes Imperiled". Harvard Magazine. open access
  19. ^ "Memorial Society Honors Founder of College In the Name and Image of Two Other Men – College Founded By Grant of the Massachu­setts General Court in the Year 1636". Harvard Crimson. 26 November 1934. When the members of the Memorial Society place a wreath on the statue of John Harvard today, expecting to honor the memory and the image of the founder of Harvard College, they will be honoring the likeness of another man and the name of a man who was not the legal founder of the college. open access
  20. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1935). The Founding of Harvard College. p. 210. John Harvard cannot rightly be called the founder of Harvard College...
  21. ^ Mather, Cotton (1853). Robbins, Thomas, ed. Magnalia Christi Americana: Or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, from Its First Planting, in the Year 1620, Unto the Year of Our Lord 1698 ... 2. Hartford: S. Andrus & Son. p. 10. But that which laid the most significant stone in the foundation, was the last will of Mr. John Harvard ...
  22. ^ Excerpted from Greene, Jerome Davis (11 December 1934). "Don't Quibble Sybil — The Mail" (Letter to the editor)". Harvard Crimson. ("Don't quibble, Sybil" is a line from Noël Coward's 1930 Private Lives.)
  23. ^ John Harvard
  24. ^ Alger, Alpheus B.; Matthews, Nathan Jr. (1892). Harvard Bridge: Boston to Cambridge, March 1892. Boston, Massachusetts: Rockwell and Churchill. p. 14. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  25. ^

Further reading

  • Rendle, William (1885). John Harvard, St. Saviour's, Southwark, and Harvard University, U.S.A. London: J.C. Francis.
  • Shelley, Henry C. (1907). John Harvard and His Times. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Co.

External links

This page was last edited on 22 March 2019, at 04:25
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