Laws and statutes of Harvard, 1655-1890: College laws: Laws of Harvard College

About this Collection

Harvard University , Corporation.
Collection Title
Laws and statutes of Harvard, 1655-1890College lawsLaws of Harvard College
3.21 cubic feet (1 legal document box, 1 half document box, and 28 volumes)
Harvard University Archives
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Harvard University--Regulations
Harvard College (1636-1780)--Discipline
Harvard University--Students--Discipline
Harvard College (1636-1780)--Administration--History
Universities and colleges--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
Conduct of life--New England
Young men--New England
New England--Social life and customs

Content Notes

The collection contains copies of the Laws and Statutes of Harvard. Documents consist of manuscript copies of College laws from 1655 through 1789, a handwritten copy of the "Freshmen laws," and printed copies of laws in both draft and published forms from 1790 onward. Most of the items were used by Harvard presidents and the Corporation while revising and editing the codes, and many include annotations. The records provide insight into the Harvard administration's expectations of student behavior and also offer a resource for studying collegiate governance, student life, and codes of conduct in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Text of the College Laws of 1655, 1692, and 1767, and the College Customs, 1734/5 are published in the Publications of the Colonial Society, Volume 31.

Biographical Notes

The Harvard laws, first written in 1642, and revised periodically thereafter, defined appropriate student conduct and detailed the requirements for admitted students; later laws included regulations for the library, the steward and butler, and governors and officers of the College. The early laws were written in both English and Latin and recorded in Harvard's College Books I and III, but additional manuscript copies were made for use by the President, and copied by students.