Statue of John Harvard


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Initially referred to simply as 'the new college', the institution was named Harvard College on March 13, 1639, after its first principal donor, a young clergyman named John Harvard. In May 1637 he emigrated with his wife from England to New England and settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Charlestown made him the minister of the Church, but within the following year he contracted tuberculosis and died on September 14, 1638. He is buried at the Phipps Street Cemetery in Charlestown, MA. Childless, Harvard bequeathed £779 (half of his estate) and his library of around 400 volumes to the New College at nearby Cambridge, which had been founded on September 8, 1636, and to his friend, the first schoolmaster of this college, Nathaniel Eaton. The school renamed itself 'Harvard College' on March 13, 1639, and Harvard was first referred to as a university rather than a college by the new Massachusetts constitution of 1780. No records or illustrations remain of the earliest college, which burnt to the ground in 1674 along with all but one of Harvard's original 400 volume donation.

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