Martin Luther King at Harvard
On January 10, 1965, the Rev. Martin Luther King visited Harvard as a guest preacher at Memorial Church to deliver the Sunday sermon before an overflow crowd. A Harvard University News Office photographer documented the visit and the resulting contact sheets recreate this moment in time. One after another, the images flow as they show Reverend King walking in the Yard and Tercentenary Theatre, talking with President Pusey and University Preacher the Rev. Charles P. Price, ascending the stairs to Memorial Church, and engaging in conversation with students and faculty.
The University Archives initiated a project in 2011 to enhance access to a vast treasure trove of roughly 40,000 documentary images dating from 1940 to 1995. Intended primarily for publicity and distribution to the press, these black-and-white images taken by Harvard News Office staff and student photographers document academic life, facilities, and events at Harvard throughout the latter 20th century. To date, the Archives has created detailed finding aids for three series of News Office photographs: photographs, 1940-1956, photographs of Army and Navy activities at Harvard, 1942-1947, and photographs, 1913-1995.
The News Office photographs portray Harvard presidents James B. Conant and Nathan M. Pusey, administrators, faculty, librarians, staff, alumni, and visitors, along with students engaged in various activities in the classroom, around campus, and related to military service. Notable guests and visitors include prominent World War II figures, such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, General George S. Patton, and Winston Churchill; the Duke of Windsor, Éamon De Valera, Jawaharlal Nehru, Crown Prince Akihito, and other heads of state; film producer Walt Disney, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, architect Walter Gropius, poet Stephen Spender, jazz composer and pianist Duke Ellington, and composer Aaron Copland; and various local and state politicians.
Photographs are invaluable archival resources. From daguerreotypes to contemporary digital snapshots, they convey information about people, places, and events that may elude the written record. The photographic holdings of the Harvard University Archives enrich other information sources collected by the Archives in the effort to preserve an accurate, authentic, and complete record of the life of the University.
Contact the Archives reference staff at archives_referenceharvard [dot] edu (subject: News%20Office%20Photographs) for more information about access to these collections.