John Harvard: what does a missionary have to do with a world famous university

Harvard University is the first institution of higher education in the United States. It grew out of the “New College” voted on by the Supreme Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. Then the educational institution consisted of only nine students and one teacher.

Three years later, the college was named after its first benefactor, the young missionary John Harvard of Charlestown, who left his vast library and half of his property as a legacy to the future Harvard University. A monument to John Harvard stands today opposite University Hall, in the famous Harvard courtyard. The bronze John Harvard is perhaps the university’s most famous landmark.

How was the life of John Harvard and how did it happen that one of the most prestigious universities in the world was named after him.

Family is important

John Harvard was born November 26, 1607 in London. He studied at the London school at the Church of the Holy Savior, where his father was the principal. By the way, his father Robert Harvard was also a butcher and his family had their own shop. John showed excellent diligence in the study of English grammar, ancient writers and the Bible.

In 1625, when John was 18 years old, his father died of the plague, along with four brothers and sisters. Of the large Harvard family, only John, his brother Thomas, and his mother, Katherine, survived. The father left a huge fortune for those times, amounting to 600 pounds sterling. Five months later, Katherine remarried a very wealthy childless property owner, John Elletson, but was soon widowed again. As a result, John and Thomas became large homeowners, owning buildings in the most fashionable quarters of London.

Start of ministry

John spent the next two years agonizing over his future career. He could become whoever he wanted. And he wished to become… a preacher. The guy was looking for the truth. And if for someone the truth was in wine, then for John it was in enlightenment. John entered Emmanuel College at the University of Cambridge, which brought up more than one generation of famous preachers. It was the graduates of this college who founded the Puritan colonies in New England, in the northeast of what would later be called the United States of America. In 1631, Harvard received a bachelor’s degree, in 1636 he became a master.

Like many of his associates, John decided to move overseas to New England – the persecution of the Puritans by the official Anglican Church was too unbearable. In 1637, he sold all his London property to some captain, then bought books for £200 and went overseas with his wife Sadley Ann. The journey lasted four months.

On August 6, 1637, he was warmly welcomed by the people of Charlestown, who brought him a written promise “to settle in as ideal conditions as possible.” On November 2, he found a job as a school teacher. As expected, he worked with the pastor.

Harvard set foot on American Land as a colonist, lived there for only a year and died. There are people about whom one can say: born, studied, married, tried and aspired. John Harvard was one of those people. From the point of view of the layman, his life was boring and uninteresting. No intrigue and no adventure. Puritan, preacher and a missionary. His life came to an end when he was only 31 years old. On September 14, 1638, John died of tuberculosis. He had no children, so in his will the preacher signed off his inheritance to his wife and college. In gratitude for the donation, a year later the educational institution was named after him and the farmstead in Cow Row was named “Harvard Yard”. Over time, the college will grow into a University, the motto of which will be the word: “Truth” (“Veritas”). Maybe this was the very truth that John Harvard was so desperately looking for?

Harvard today

Over the centuries, a small college has grown into a colossal institution with 20,000 applicants for degrees at all levels, including bachelors, masters, graduate students and students pursuing professional degrees. Today, Harvard University offers students from all over the world a unique learning experience and education on a truly global scale, with 12 autonomous departments (or schools) with degree programs, as well as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

The Harvard University Library is the world’s largest research library with a collection of 18.9 million volumes. It also contains 174,000 titles of periodicals, about 400 million manuscripts, about 10 million photographs, 56 million archival web pages and 5.4 terabytes of digital materials. Almost a thousand employees in 70 branches provide access to this rich collection. The archives of Harvard University are not only the oldest, but also one of the most comprehensive university research archives in the country.

Harvard University, which can safely be called a synonym for success and a place where already today it is being created into the future, it preserves and honors its ancient traditions, passing them on to new generations of students.

Harvard University provides generous financial assistance – more than 60% of students annually receive scholarships or other financial support totaling more than $ 160 million, which allows talented people from all over the world to access the world’s best education, take part in cutting-edge research, unique internship programs.

Today, more than 360,000 Harvard alumni live in the United States and about 190,000 live in other countries around the world.

Interesting facts about Harvard

Harvard is such an old university that when it was founded, the subject of mathematics (or calculus) was not on the schedule, simply because it had not yet been “invented”. Calculus appeared at the end of the 17th century with the publication of Gottfried Leibniz’s Nova Methodus. For comparison: Galileo Galilei, who died in 1642, was alive and well at the time of the founding and the first years of Harvard’s work.

There is a statue of John Harvard in the University Courtyard. It is the third most photographed statue in the US. Despite the popularity of the pedestal, Harvard students without due reverence call it the “Statue of the Triple Lies.” The inscription reads: “John Harvard, Founder, 1638”. In fact, Harvard was not exactly a founder, but rather a generous sponsor, honored to give the name to the oldest university in the United States. In addition, Harvard University was not founded in 1638 at all, but in 1636. And, finally, the statue depicts not the real John Harvard, but some random student who agreed to pose for the sculptor Daniel Chester French.

Drew Faust, a woman, was elected president of Harvard for the first time in 2007. Faust was elected to replace Lawrence Summers, who resigned in June 2007 because of the scandal surrounding his public remarks that, due to innate characteristics, men are more successful in intellectual activity and science, which is why there are so few women in high academic posts.

Every year at Harvard, which gave the world the most Nobel laureates, the antipode of the Nobel “Ig-Nobel” prize (from the English ignoble, low, shameful) is held. It is awarded in 10 categories for the most dubious and useless scientific achievements that “cannot or should not be repeated.”

The award was established by Mark Abrahams and the humor magazine “Annals of Incredible Research”. The first award ceremonies were held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Now the Ig Nobel Prize (as it is also called) is presented at Harvard by real Nobel laureates – in fake glasses, with false noses and similar attributes. Paper airplanes fly around the majestic lecture hall. The laureates’ speech time is limited to 60 seconds. Those who talk longer are stopped by Miss Sweetie Poo – a girl who exclaims: “Please stop, I’m bored!”

The main and almost the only requirement for applicants for the Ig-Nobel Prize is that their work must be published in a peer-reviewed scientific periodical.

The award sometimes expresses veiled criticism, but in most cases these awards draw attention to scientific work that contains funny elements.

But not all inventions are so useless. For example, an employee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gauri Nanga, received an award for inventing an alarm clock that constantly rings and runs away from its owner. Running after the alarm clock makes you wake up faster and ultimately increases the length of the real working day.

Source: Джон Гарвард: какое отношение имеет миссионер к всемирно известному университету | Статьи на inVictory

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