February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
John Harvard

About the namesake of America's oldest and best known college almost nothing is known. There is a statue of John Harvard on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus but no one knows what John Harvard looked liked. The model for the memorial was a long forgotten graduate student.

John Harvard was the son of an English butcher who died with four of his children of the plague in 1625. Harvard, born in 1608 survived the disease and came to Boston in the summer of 1637 as a Puritan minister only to succumb to Tuberculosis less than a year later.

Harvard left 779 pounds, almost $4000, and his entire library to a small school that the Massachusetts Bay Colony Great General Court had chartered in 1636. It was the first gift to the school, immediately named Harvard College, and remained the largest bequest for 50 years.

Harvard's personal library consisted of 400 books. All but one volume was lost in a devastating fire in 1764. The lone survivor was an overdue book that was out three months to a student named Briggs. It remains Harvard's only tangible link to its founder.

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