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The History of Harvard University

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Harvard was originally founded as a way to educate the Protestant clergy. However, its curriculum and students became secular throughout the 18th century.

Harvard emerged as a center of culture among Boston elites by the 19th century. During the 20th century, Harvard’s reputation grew and the college experienced growth in its student population.

Bequeathing his library of four hundred books and half his estate to the institution, John Harvard is the namesake of the university, which now has the largest academic library system and the largest endowment in the United States. A statue of John Harvard stands in front of University Hall and is probably one of Harvard’s best known landmarks.

Harvard University Fun Facts

  • Harvard has a vigorous alumni network, which includes many prominent celebrities. Actress Natalie Portman went to Harvard while filming Star Wars.
  • Eight U.S. Presidents have graduated from Harvard, including current President Barack Obama.
  • Additionally, 75 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the university as students, faculty, or staff.
  • Harvard University also plays a role in pop culture, referenced in many novels, plays, films, and other cultural works, such as William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the television show Gilmore Girls, and the movie The Great Debaters.

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