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John Harvard
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Educator
    (November 26, 1607-September 14, 1638)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Puritan clergyman
    Settled in Boston (1637)
    Left half his estate (779 pounds) and a library of 400 books to a recently founded college in Cambridge, Massachusetts
    College named Harvard College (later University) in his honor (1639)
    Little is known about his life, with one Massachusetts historian saying he 'would gladly give five hundred dollars to get five lines about Harvard in any capacity, public or private.'
    All but one of the books he donated were lost in a fire (1764).
    The statue of him in Harvard Yard, with the inscription 'John Harvard, Founder, 1638,' has been called the 'statue of three lies': (1) John Harvard was benefactor of the university but not a founder; (2) the university was founded in 1636, not 1638; (3) the statue depicts a student model, since no accurate pictures of John Harvard are known to exist.
    When he was 18, his father, stepsister and two brothers died from the plague.
    He was described as 'a godly gentleman and a lover of learning.'
    His will did not request that the college be named after him.
    Given that nowadays it takes tens of millions of dollars to have a single building named after yourself, getting an entire university for under 800 pounds was a heck of a bargain.

Credit: C. Fishel


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