March 1923 issue of The Crisis marked up for the Harvard University President's Office, 1923 (HUA 923.4)

In 1915, Harvard University President A. Lawrence Lowell established a housing policy for Harvard freshman that required freshmen to live in college housing in Harvard Yard but barred Black students from freshman housing. Collection includes a marked-up issue of the magazine "The Crisis" containing an editorial by W. E. B. Du Bois rebuking President Lowell for segregating freshman dormitories.

Open for research.

Petition against exclusion of Negroes from Freshman Dormitories, circa 1922 (UAI 20.920)

In the 1920s Harvard University’s exclusion of African Americans from freshman dormitories to accommodate Southern white students sparked a national controversy. The campaign against Harvard’s exclusionary policy began in the spring of 1922 when Black students appealed to President Abbott Lawrence Lowell to no avail. In the summer white alumni circulated a petition among two hundred Harvard graduates (145 graduates endorsed the petition) expressing dismay over Harvard’s discrimination against African American students and Harvard’s surrender of its “Northern ideas of democracy” and “Harvard ideals of justice.” In January 1923 the Board of Overseers held a special meeting to discuss Harvard’s exclusionary policies and a faculty committee was appointed to study the matter. Subsequently, the Board of Overseers unanimously banned discrimination for reasons of race or religion at Harvard and affirmed the right of African Americans to equal opportunity at Harvard.

Open for research.

Records of the President of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, 1909-1933 (UAI 5.160.x)

Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856-1943) was President of Harvard University from 1909 to 1933. These are official records produced by Lowell’s presidential administration. The collection includes records related to Lowell’s ban on Black students living in Harvard dormitories.

The collection is open for research, including the following folders:

  • [African Americans] (Box 181, Folder 42)
  • [African-Americans] (Box 227, Folder 185)
  • [African-Americans] (Box 267, Folder 566)
  • [African-Americans] (Box 297, Folder 504)
  • Freshman Dormitories (Box 171, Folder 981)


General information by and about the Office of Race Relations and Minority Affairs at Harvard College (HUF 721.2)

May include pamphlets press accounts, and ephemera.

Open for research.