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Author Bio: Phillip Taylor

The oldest and main American university has gained so many traditions and secrets over the course of its existence that it is impossible to tell about all of them in one book. Here are the eight most entertaining facts about Harvard that you didn’t know about.

The statue of three lies

The statue of John Harvard, sitting at Harvard Court, is the third in the list of the most photographed statues in the USA. Even though the pedestal is so popular, Harvard students without proper piety call it the “statue of three lies.” The inscription on the pedestal states: “John Harvard, founder, 1638.” In fact, Harvard was not the founder. He was a generous sponsor, honored to give the name to the oldest university in the United States. In addition, the University of Harvard was founded not in 1638. It was created in 1636. In addition, the statue depicts not the real John Harvard, but some random student who agreed to pose the sculptor. Learn more about John Harvard from this autobiography essay.

Harvard is older than mathematical analysis

Harvard is such an old university that when it was founded, there was no such thing as a calculus (or mathematical analysis, simply knows as calculus), simply because it was not yet invented. The calculus appeared at the end of the 17th century with the release of the work Nova Methodus by Gottfried Leibniz. For comparison – Galileo Galilei, who died in 1642, at the time of the foundation and the first years of Harvard’s work was alive and well.

Eight is the magic number in Harvard

Harvard is known for a number of influential graduates. Among those who signed the declaration of Independence are eight Harvard graduates: Samuel Adams, William Ellery, John Hancock, John Adams, William Hooper, William Williams, Robert Treat Paine, and Elbridge Jerry. It seems that eight is a magic number because as many graduates later became US presidents: John Quincy Adams, John Adams, Ted Roosevelt, Rutherford Hayes, John Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Underground library

In the Widener library is the second largest library in the country. There are ten huge floors, four of which are underground. The library was named after Harry Elkins Widener, whose mother Eleanor donated 3.5 million dollars to Harvard for its construction. Harry was a Harvard graduate who was looking for a bright future, but he was not lucky enough to be among the Titanic’s passengers.

Eleanor made a donation with one condition – the exterior of the library building cannot be changed in any way. Otherwise, the library will automatically become the property of Cambridge (a city in the state of Massachusetts). Therefore, when the question arose of expanding the library, the architects had to be witty, resulting in the idea to grow not in breadth or upward, but in depth.

Prohibition on shooting

From 1970, the commercial shooting is prohibited on the territory of the University. In Harvard, you cannot shoot in classrooms, student hostels, and canteens.

The main gate of the university is almost always closed

Harvard is full of other gates open around the clock (anyone can go to the territory on working days). But the Johnston Gate, the main gate of the campus, is closed most of the year.

All because Harvard students have to go through them only twice. The first time – when they are first-year students on campus, and the second time – as it is easy to guess – when they leave Harvard as graduates. It is considered a bad omen if students pass through the gate more than twice.

Photo of nude freshmen

Between 1940 and 1970, some universities from the Ivy League (the association of eight private American universities located in seven states in the northeastern United States) had a strange rule for all first-year students. Yale, Harvard, Brown University, and Wellesley College were among the elite American educational institutions, in which all first-year students of both sexes were sent to pose to the photographer naked. Thousands of photos of nude students were made at that time. What is typical, no written permissions for taking pictures of nude students, of course, were signed. They were just asked to do so.

These unusual photo sessions belonged to a large research project by psychologist William Herbert Sheldon, who directed it in collaboration with universities. The idea was to use these photos (in which the students stood in full face and in profile) to study scoliosis, rickets, and other defects associated with posture. But there is an assumption that in fact they were used in the study of something eviler. Sheldon’s classified records indicate that the scientist used photos of freshmen of Ivy League to study the relationship between the human body and its intelligence.

Why are the marks on the Harvard Bridge made in a little-spread unit of length?

In 1958, American students decided to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge with the help of one of their friends, a student named Oliver Smoot, who was moved on and on in the reclining position, making a mark after the mark. The total length of the bridge was 364.4 smoots and one more ear, and the unit of smoot itself was approximately 170 centimeters.

After the reconstruction of the bridge in 1988, the city authorities erased all the marks that students constantly updated. However, the police intervened, for whom it was convenient to report incidents on the bridge, focusing on the smoots, and the lines were restored. Oliver Smoot himself during the career growth led the International Organization of ISO standards.