Retrospection


‘Deborah Was All About the Truth’: Remembering Deborah Batts, the First Openly Gay Federal Judge

Deborah A. Batts '69 — who unexpectedly died in February 2020 at age 72 due to complications from knee surgery — had an extraordinary legal career by any standard. But she also accomplished an important national first. With her confirmation to the federal bench in 1994, she became the first openly gay federal judge in the United States.


1969 Editorials 2

As I read about these students who’d navigated Harvard’s campus 53 years before me, they put words to the internal struggles that I’d brushed off as my own exaggerations. Whether it was misogyny within the Black community, the ever-present shade drawn over Harvard’s inner workings and how to navigate them, or the seemingly unbreakable fortitude of an unchanging institution.


Hell Doesn't Seem So Hot From Up Here

Morisey looks back on her experience at Radcliffe with bittersweet pride. Even as she reminisces on the difficulty of being a Black Cliffie, I sense that she sees a bigger picture, one beyond each negative moment she experienced as an undergraduate. This doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring pain and strife or dismissing her 1969 self’s experiences, but Morisey refuses to let these moments define her.


A Spring of Discontent

But before local school board members started contending with critical race theory, critical legal studies was fanning a flame that would spark one of the most tense periods in the history of Harvard Law School.


The Ghostly Outlines of Harvard's Fallen Foliage

Natural pests have plagued Harvard’s elms, while University administrators — more concerned with practicality than aesthetics — launched a plan to remove ivy from Harvard’s hallowed halls.


Black Nationalists in December

Some may know the story of Richard Theodore Greener, Class of 1870, the very first Black person to graduate from Harvard College. But before the courage of Greener, there was the persistence of Martin Robinson Delany.


The Spectacular and Scandalous History of Harvard Housing Day Videos

Housing Day videos are now as much of a tradition as Housing Day itself. While the tradition’s history is brief — the earliest videos on YouTube date back to 2009 —, it has garnered both mass celebration and incited widespread controversy.


“Look Back and See Who You Can Help Up”: A Glimpse into the Life of Archie C. Epps

Archie C. Epps III was one of few Black senior administrators in Harvard's history, becoming Dean of Students in 1971. At age 32, he was one of the youngest appointments in the school’s history — and his term as dean one of the most eventful.


‘Wonderful chaos’: The brief, brilliant rise of the Cambridge Harmonica Orchestra

The Cambridge Harmonica Orchestra, a historic gem of the Cambridge music scene, had its glorious debut more than 40 years ago. Well known for their vibrant yellow jackets and laid-back attitudes, this group of musicians hopped between bars and music fests, bringing the blues harp to Cambridge and beyond.


The Wusong Road Less Traveled

The old Conductor’s Building on Mount Auburn Street stands as an awkwardly narrow wedge, sitting next to an alleyway wider than itself. But while the exterior of the building remains inconspicuous, the inside has been transformed into a Chinese tiki bar and restaurant named Wusong Road after the first Conductor’s Building in Wusong, China.


A Renewed Vision of Justice at Framingham: Uniting a Prison’s Past and Future

Today, many believe MCI-Framingham is a dangerous and non-restorative home for women convicted of crimes in Massachusetts. But that hasn’t always been the case.


‘Don’t Test Chaos Theory on Us’: Harvard’s 1995 Switch to Housing Randomization, Revisited

Adams: artsy and queer. Eliot: preppy, blue-blooded schmoozers. Kirkland: jocks. Lowell: studiers. The Quad: Black and Hispanic students with an emphasis on activism. These were just some of the reputations that Harvard Houses had from the 1930s to 1995.


The Three-Year Battle to Join the Harvard Band

In the fall of 1967, Sally Faith Dorfman ’71 saw an ad in The Crimson from the Harvard University Band that stated the band was in need of more flute players. Dorfman, a flautist, thought she might try out. But there was a catch — the band, at the time, was all male.


The Living Memory of Derrick Bell

In a 1990 photograph, Derrick Bell, the first tenured Black professor at Harvard Law School, speaks as a crowd of students rally behind him. In the front row, students clutch a banner that reads, “Harvard Law School: On Strike for Diversity.” The photograph was taken during Bell’s controversial announcement that he would be taking a “leave of conscience,” refusing to return until HLS hired a Black, female, tenured professor.


Cubans in Cambridge: Harvard’s 1900 Cuban Summer School and U.S. Imperialism

"This program — which Cuban historian Louis A. Pérez called an “imperial design” — strove to teach Cuban schoolchildren lessons in civics, American history, and English, whether they wanted them or not."


'Ad Astra': Marking the Passage of Time with STAHR

The Loomis-Michael Observatory, only accessible via a stairway and a registered HUID, sits on the 10th floor of the Science Center. Named after Walter Michael, who donated the telescope itself, and Lee Loomis, who funded its installation, the observatory is now operated and maintained by Student Astronomers at Harvard-Radcliffe, a student-run organization which hopes to allow Harvard students to learn about astronomy and appreciate the night sky.


Doctor Mildred Fay Jefferson, In Her Own Words

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson was the first Black woman to graduate from HMS, ran for Senate three times, and was a groundbreaking surgeon; however, she would rather be remembered for the lifetime of activism she dedicated to her passion — outlawing abortion.


A Goose, a Janitor, and a Poem Walk into Harvard Yard

Abdy, born around 1650, served as a sweeper and bedmaker at Harvard from 1718 until his death in 1730 or 31, primarily in Stoughton Hall. It is not immediately clear why such a figure would be memorialized in this form, or by whom.


Harvard's Peek Behind the Iron Curtain

But there was much more to these interviews than capturing the ideological beliefs of their participants. HPSSS researchers sought to reveal the full scope of the Soviet experience, far beyond what the Air Force had expected, pushing back, in a way, against the strong anti-Soviet culture in the U.S. during the Cold War.


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