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- The Master of Arts degree granted to Benjamin Franklin in 1753 is generally considered to be the first true honorary degree awarded by Harvard.
- Ad eundem degrees, common in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, were granted to "persons who by courtesy were admitted without examination to the same degree (ad eundum gradum) that they had earned at some other institution."
- Master of Arts (A.M.) degrees are "given by the University to persons on its own faculty who are not Harvard graduates, so as to make them, in the words of their diplomas, 'members of our flock' - it om grege nostro numeretur."
- Helen Keller was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Harvard (1955).