Stories of Early Harvard


1643 early sketch of Veritas seal. President Josiah Quincy,  History of Harvard University,  Vol. I (1840). Source: Google Books

Stories of Early Harvard*

by A. J. Melnick


Stories adapted from the pre-published book:
DUNSTER: THE MAN WHO SAVED HARVARD - AND GAVE IT EXCELLENCE

If you'd like to know when this book is published, please send an email to: Dunster Book
NOTE: This does NOT obligate you to purchase the book.

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        Podcast No. 1. [1636]. The John Harvard Story: How Did Harvard College Get Its Name?




Statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard (1884 sculpture). Source: Wikipedia Commons
For more information about John Harvard, for whom Harvard is named, go to: www.johnharvard.us



        Podcast No. 2. [1638-1639]. The Eaton Disaster - How Harvard Almost Went Out of Existence Soon After It Began (we open with an historical fictional account with the Rev. Thomas Shepard)


Nathaniel Eaton was Harvard College's first teacher and also its first traitor. Externally, Eaton appeared to be the ideal Puritan, but in reality he was a liar, sadist and thief who betrayed everything that the Puritans believed in. It is a wonder that Harvard even survived his treachery. An unforeseen incident led to a trial - a trial where the whole sordid truth of what Eaton and his wife were doing came tumbling out. The authorities were appalled that this could happen right under their noses. Listen to this podcast to find out how the story unfolded!


        Podcast No. 3. [1641-1642]. The First Threat to Academic Freedom in America

   

The annual election day sermon in 1641 in Massachusetts helped launch what became the first threat to academic freedom in America - one that, unsurprisingly, had political overtones. Who started it, how did it affect Harvard, and how did it end?


        Podcast No. 4. [1643-1649]. The Inspiring Story of Matthew Day, the 'Second' Printer in America, and His Devotion to Harvard


   

Although largely forgotten today, Matthew Day (Daye) was an important figure in Harvard's early history. He was President Dunster's right-hand man at a time when Dunster had few people he could rely on. He served as College Steward before that position became formalized. His more famous father, Steven Day, is known as the first printer in America, but Matthew should also be honored - at a minimum for being the 'second' printer in America. He produced some of the earliest and rarest examples of American printing, including the 1647 Almanac by Harvard graduate Samuel Danforth. This was a book about "firsts" and was a "first" itself - the first known booklet published in America that carried the name of its printer - Matthew Day - on its cover! (see below). Matthew was deeply devoted to Harvard and to the Dunster family, which probably put him at odds early on with his self-serving father, who died in poverty many years after his son. Listen to this podcast to learn about Matthew's amazing gift to Harvard before he died.



Cover page


Page of "firsts" from 1647 Almanac by Samuel Danforth, published by Matthew Day.
This includes (top entry): "The first Indian that held forth a clear work of conversion to Christianity was Wequash of Say-brook." Source: Google Books

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        Podcast No. 5 [1654]. 'Penny Beer' at Harvard: The Sister Bradish Story


President Henry Dunster had a problem... Harvard students were going off-campus to a nearby 'penny beer' establishment and spending too much of their parents' money! What to do? The dilemma was - he actually did want them to go there, just not too often! Listen to this podcast to learn what he did to solve his problem and how it affected Harvard.

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Music: Opening melody - "York Fusiliers" - popular fifer tune performed by the Colonial Faire band (from "A Colonial Sampler: Popular Music of Colonial America)


*Copyright 2019-2020 by A. J. Melnick. All rights reserved. This site is not affiliated with Harvard University nor any Harvard entity.