What are some general histories of Harvard Divinity School?

There are several multi-period treatments and anniversary celebration volumes:

Multi-period Treatments

The Harvard Divinity School: Its Place in Harvard University and in American Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1954. (Print Only)

This book grew out of a series of lectures given in 1953-54. Williams's introduction and essays form a theoretical framework for understanding the distinctive history of the school. The essays by Wright, Ahlstrom, and Reynolds are focused on the faculty and the intellectual life of the school. The essay on the "Student History" gives highlights of the history of the school written by students, year by year (1827-1913); the manuscript volumes are in the University Archives (title: History of Harvard Divinity School, 1827-1913; call number: Harvard Archives: UAV 328. 4 vt).


  • "The Early Period (1811-40)" by Conrad Wright
  • "The Middle Period (1840-80)" by Sydney E. Ahlstrom
  • "'A Beautiful Enmity': the Student History in the Nineteenth Century" by Willard L. Sperry
  • "The Later Years (1880-1953)" by Leavering Reynolds
  • "Theology and the Integrity of the University" by George Hunston Williams
  • "Theological Scholarship at Harvard from 1880 to 1853" by Ralph Lazzaro
  • "Preparation for the Ministry in a Non-denominational School" by Willard L. Sperry
  • "Church, Commonwealth, and College: The Religious Sources of the Idea of a University" by George Hunston Williams

Harvard President's Reports in the Harvard/Radcliffe Online Historical Reference Shelf

The Harvard Presidents' reports (1825-1985/86) in the Harvard/Radcliffe Online Historical Reference Shelf include an annual report (or Report of the Dean) of the curriculum and major activities of the Divinity School.

Divinings: Religion at Harard from Its Origins in New England Ecclesiastical History to the 175th Anniversary of the Harvard Divinity School, 1636-1992  (Print Only)

This history of religion at Harvard began as George Huntston Williams' address at the 350th anniversary of Harvard University in 1986.  Williams worked on the manuscript until his death in 2000.   Rodney L. Peterson edited this 3-volume set.  See especially volume 2 -- "The 'Augustan Age': Religion in the University, the Foundations of a Learned Ministry and the Development of the Divinity School".

Peabody, Francis Greenwood. "The Spiritual History of Divinity Hall" [1915]. (Print Only)

In an address delivered to the Divinity School Alumni Association, in the chapel of Divinity Hall on June 23, 1915, Peabody covers important events in the history of Divinity Hall.

Wright, Conrad. "Fresh Responses to New Situations: Some Instances of Innovation in the History of Harvard Divinity School." 1964. (Print Only)

In this talk given before the Visiting Committee and Faculty on Oct. 20, 1964, Wright covers the development and changes in the curriculum of the school as responses to a religiously pluralistic society, a religiously pluralistic world, and to the urbanization and industrialization of American life.

Anniversary Celebrations

Foundations for a Learned Ministry: Catalogue of an Exhibition on the Occasion of the One Hundred Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Divinity School, Harvard University. Cambridge, Mass., 1992. (Print Only)

This illustrated catalogue of the exhibition in Widener Library (Nov. 9-Dec. 2, 1992) was produced as part of the school's celebration of its 175th anniversary. It includes a brief historical sketch of the school by Peter J. Gomes, Curator of the Exhibition and Editor of the Catalogue.

Gannett, Ezra S. An Address Delivered at the Semi-centennial Celebration of the Cambridge Divinity School, July 17, 1867. Boston, L. C. Bowles, 1867 (Print Only)

In an address delivered on Visitation Day, Gannett reviews the school's first half century.

Addresses Delivered at the Observance of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 5, 1916. Cambridge: Harvard University, 1917.

Includes addresses on "The First Half Century of the Divinity School" by Robert S. Morison and "Theological Education at Harvard between 1816 and 1916" by Charles W. Eliot.

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