Friday, December 10, 2021

U.S. and Harvard, I

TL;DR -- Looking at Harvard goes from 1636 to now, and one could think about the before times as well as what's next. Our interest is partly personal due to having connections over the toto of the life of the country and the school. Too, though, the U.S. might have started on the coast, but it has filled in a huge continent (or part of it) over these centuries. It was a mere 200 years ago, when the carving of the middle was the vogue and had everyone's attention. Well, not, as most who left the busyness of the east coast became unknowns out here. The recent Head's life motivated this review which is intended to be a usual affair as we go along. BTW, us is the US and its folks. 


Having started to look at Harvard and its ties to the U.S. (which is us, the people - not just the brainy who need to be fed and told how to move one foot in front of the other -- as the embodiment of that notion of Winthrop quoting the Bible about humanity needing a 'light' or two, whether on a hill or not is immaterial, though we love lighthouses and gaslights) that we all live in and try to know, from several perspectives, it appeared useful to consider the 32 Heads of Harvard over the almost 400 years of its existence. 32? The official count is 29, however we added three. Two of these were in an interim position, for more than a year. So, they count. Then, we have the first one who is mentioned already in this blog. 

Note: There is a note that John Winthrop served as acting Head on two different occasions. So, the count would be 33 Heads. Winthrop is a descendant of the original Governor and taught Count Rumford in his youth. Other acting presidents are listed (Presidents of Harvard). 

See this post, History of Harvard, for the list which has a few names on it as of now. Of course, an early one was James Bryant Conant. It was a New Yorker article that got our attention, so we went to look at New England and family ties. From that, it was easy picking from various areas. For example, an important time is when Count Rumford funded Harvard's efforts at becoming more secular. John Thornton Kirkland was there at the time, but we have other names to run down. It seems like the Pearce family was more involved with setting up the technical focus for the institution.  

While doing this work, our principal modes of information are Wikipedia and WikiTree, both of which we support via editing and usage. But, we go to other sources, to boot. Right now, we look for and find New England connections, where we expect that later folks may have tenuous links in comparison with those from the early ages who would have had closer ties. 

In fact, our last two Heads were related, with Samuel Willard being the great-grandfather of Joseph Willard. We have been picking people by name and noticed the two Willards. Will there be others who relate more closely than New England cousin? As well, we expect to follow threads especially as we consider the frontier. Too, Harvard ties will hit all over the place and ought to be interesting for several reasons. 

One of these is U.S. history as it relates to its future. We have been dealing with the frontier for two years now (U.S. Interior) with respect to families. Many were new arrivals; lots of patriots were 1st or 2nd generation in their family. New England patriots were mostly the fifth generation. 

Presidents of Harvard

However, our net will be cast wide. The U.S. has many aspects of its history that never got attention. Part of this was technology. However, part of the oversight is due to the ruling mindset. The internet will allow more freedom. Actually, it'll allow more effective means for research. We already see that with the genealogical and historical approaches with family data. That is both good and bad. 

But, like with brainstorming, we look at things in order to get sufficient material to make those assessments that are necessary for maintaining society and sanity. What follows might seem wide-spread, or too unfocused, but it is not. Rather, it represents a mere scratch on the surface. Digging deeper? That is always a choice for which decision theory, hopefully, will be helpful. 

So, this post is motivated by noticing that Nathan Pusey was the next Head after Conant who was a descendant of Roger Conant of Cape Ann and Salem. It looked like Pusey's heritage was principally from Pennsylvania and the south. Then, the family moved west. Pusey was born in Iowa. His extended family was scattered around in that area west of the Mississippi. 

When did the family arrive? On a closer look, we can see that his paternal ancestors were with William Penn in the late 1600s. Some have done genealogical work on Pusey's; we will be looking into this further at some point. We had noticed that some of the Heads have very slim information about them, as if there is some popularity aspect that determines interest. 

Well, all of these Heads will be important, as we step through the many generations. Fortunately, we have family involved with Harvard, as well as in-laws and friends. So, personal motivation will help fill in the historic look. 

Let's consider this little tie. Pusey taught at the Riverdale School in New York City early in his career. He is mentioned in the 'Notable staff' section. Looking at the 'Notable alumni' section brought up several names that are of interest. President JFKennedy and his brother, RFK, are on the list. The school started in 1907, so the names are fairly contemporary. Others of a wide variety are Ratan Tata, Carly Simon, Cesar Romero, Steven Mnuchin, and others. 

But, so was Lawrence Ferlinghetti an attendee of the school. He is well-known for his literary work and his book store in San Francisco (City Lights Bookstore). Given our focus of late, what caught the eye was that his wife was the granddaughter of Edmund Kirby-Smith. Families went south and then west. Some came in and went west, like Pusey's. And, when west, there was the huge U.S. Interior involved which took over 100 years for a frontier experience to not be the norm. 

His folks were from Connecticut, but Kirby-Smith was born in Florida. After attending a military academy in Virginia, he went to West Point and served in several military campaigns. With the start of the Civil War, he was a superior officer. By the time of Bull Run, where he was wounded, he had held several positions of General Officer. After the war, he had several positions, ending up as professor of mathematics and botany. 

According to WikiTree (Smith-39301), his tree is fairly well filled in with lots of Connecticut connections. However, there are Massachusetts connections, as well, including Essex County. This is an example of a New England family from the north going south. Many had done so much earlier. 

One might wonder about the Harvard association as it seems fairly weak. But, it is not, just like the reference to West Point is there constantly when we look at the military history. Harvard is part of that long-arm of New England which threads heavily from one coast to the next across the large middle. And, then, of course, U.S.ers were very much active overseas from the beginning. 

Lots of things to look at and ponder. 

Remarks: Modified: 12/11/2021

12/11/2021 -- Add image for our portal (to truth).  

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