teaching, learning, and research

Prentiss, Nathaniel S. Mathematical Problems and Their Solutions. Ink and watercolor on paper, ca. 1787. HUC 8782.514 (18), Harvard University Archives.

As they are today, teaching, learning, and research were the three pillars of academic life at Harvard in the 17th and 18th centuries. These activities are highlighted in the personal papers of early Harvard presidents, faculty, and students.

Intellectual debates and topics relating to religious instruction appear in the papers of presidents Henry Dunster, Increase Mather, John Leverett, and Joseph Willard. Professors' notebooks, including those kept by John Winthrop and Samuel Williams, document meteorological, climate, and astronomical observations and emerging areas of scientific research. Student notebooks and manuscript copies of textbooks reflect the College curriculum and teaching methods.

Of particular note is a collection of more than 400 mathematical theses, broadside drawings prepared by undergraduates to demonstrate their mastery of geometry and algebra, thought to be the earliest evidence of formal instruction in the use of perspective in North America.


Books and reading
Harvard Library

Student essays
Student notes

Additional Descriptive Materials
Digital content is embedded where available.
Commencement theses, quaestiones, and orders of exercises
Mathematical theses
Papers of John and Hannah Winthrop
Papers of Samuel Williams
Papers of Stephen Sewall
Papers of the early presidents