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Harvard University

Established in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is named for John Harvard, who donated his library and half his estate to the institution in 1638. During its early years, Harvard primarily trained Congregationalist and Unitarian clergy, but the school was gradually secularized over the 18th century. It became an elite and prestigious university, known for its outstanding alumni, who include eight U.S. presidents and almost one hundred and fifty Nobel Laureates. After World War II, admissions opened to more diverse students, and in 1977 the school became coeducational for the first time. Currently, Harvard University is made up of 11 academic units and boasts the largest academic library system in the United States.

Harvard University became trustees for Dumbarton Oaks when Robert and Mildred Bliss conveyed their property to Robert’s alma mater. The Blisses wanted to establish a place of higher learning dedicated to the humanities pursuits they held dear, and they had intended to gift their estate and collections upon their deaths. However, the advent of World War II spurred the Blisses to make their gift earlier than planned. Harvard took over the management of the Dumbarton Oaks gardens, library, and collection in 1940.



“Harvard at a Glance.” Harvard University. Accessed January 14, 2014.

“The History of Dumbarton Oaks.” Dumbarton Oaks. Last modified July 5, 2012.

“Harvard University.” Wikipedia. Last modified July 20, 2014.