Final Project: John Harvard and Ann Radcliffe
What's in a name? The processes by which Harvard College and Radcliffe College acquired their names are infinitely interesting. Some final projects ideas include:
- Is the existing John Harvard statue an appropriate way of commemorating him? If not, what would you do differently? Do we need to memorialize John Harvard at all?
- Should there be a statue (or some other memorial) for Ann Radcliffe? What should it look like and where should it be placed?
- Should Harvard's women (besides Ann Radcliffe) be commemorated? If so, how?
The materials on this page relate to John Harvard and Ann Radcliffe and should assist you in your final project.
When the young consumptive minister John Harvard died in 1638, he left half his estate and his entire library to the institution that was known only as "The College at Cambridge." Since John's books and money were a significant boost to the two-year-old seminary, the General Court of Massachusetts decided to name it after him and the college became known as Harvard College.
The most visible commemoration of John Harvard is his statue, commissioned in 1884 and designed by Daniel Chester French. French's statue has become the iconic Harvard image.
The statue's original location was outside Memorial Hall. The information around the statue's base, however, is incorrect, and repeats three myths about Harvard's early history.
Not all commemorations of John Harvard were cast in bronze, though. This poem was written in 1953 by Radcliffe student Marion Manning Hiere. Courtesy of Harvard University Archives.
One recent image of John Harvard's statue connects him with post-September 11 patriotism.
Ann Radcliffe was probably born around 1600 in or near London. The daughter of a well-to-do merchant with Puritan sympathies, Ann also married a successful Puritan merchant named Thomas Mowlson (or Moulson). Mowlson was eventually knighted for service to the Crown and served in Parliament. Sir Thomas and Lady Mowlson were noted for their financial support of Puritanism. Although Sir Thomas died in 1641, Lady Mowlson continued their philanthropy and in 1643 donated 100 pounds to Harvard College. She died in 1661.
The money was intended to aid in the training of ministers who would convert Indians. College Records from the seventeenth century record every known mention of Lady Mowlson's gift.
Female students were of course excluded from Harvard, but in the late nineteenth century women educators founded the Harvard Annex to provide higher education to women. The Annex was later named Radcliffe College for Ann Mowlson (nee Radcliffe). You can read a history of Radcliffe College here.
Radcliffe officials from the 1930s onward made a concerted effort to discover more about Lady Mowlson. They traced her genealogy. But efforts to find a portrait or some other likeness of Lady Mowlson turned up nothing.
Not having a portrait of Lady Mowlson did not stop Cliffies from emulating their patroness. [photo of alumnae wearing seventeenth-century costume not yet available]
Lady Mowlson's gift was not the only donation made by a woman to Harvard College prior to 1820.