Oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. and widely considered one of the most prestigious. Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Mass., it was named Harvard College for a Puritan minister, John Harvard (1607–38), who bequeathed to the school his books and half of his estate. It became a university with the establishment of the medical school in 1782. Schools of divinity and law were established in the early 19th century. Charles Eliot, during his long tenure as president (1869–1909), made Harvard an institution with national influence. Harvard has educated seven U.S. presidents, many Supreme Court justices, cabinet officers, and congressional leaders, dozens of major literary and intellectual figures, and numerous Nobel laureates. Its undergraduate school, Harvard College, contains about one-third of the total student body. Radcliffe College (1879) was a coordinate undergraduate women's college. From 1960 women graduated from both Harvard and Radcliffe, and in 1999 Radcliffe was absorbed by Harvard, the name surviving in the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Harvard University also has graduate or professional schools of business, education, government, dentistry, architecture and landscape design, and public health. Among its affiliated research institutes are the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and the Fogg Art Museum. Its Widener Library is one of the largest and most important libraries in the world.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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