Part I





    VOLUMES XV and XVI, now completed, contain those portions of the early records of Harvard College known as College Books I, III, and IV. College Book II was destroyed when the second Harvard College was burned in January, 1764. Though, strictly speaking, there could have been no records of the Corporation before 1650 and no records of the Overseers before 1637, and though as a matter of fact there is no record of a Corporation meeting until December 10, 1654, or of an Overseers’ meeting until December 27, 1643, and though the three College Books in question contain some Over-seers’ meetings and many records of a miscellaneous character, yet the Corporation meetings predominate and College Book IV is almost wholly devoted to them: hence “Corporation Records, 1636–1750,” has been selected as a sub-title.

    In its early records, Harvard College possesses a unique mass of material which is of value alike to the historian, the genealogist, the economist, and the student of education, manners, and customs. As long as this material remained in manuscript, so long was it inaccessible to searchers; for many of the books have no indexes, and the few that have are inadequately indexed. Moreover, some books of great value have already been lost, either through fire or vandalism or carelessness, while others are rapidly going to destruction through handling or the ravages of time. Hence it has long been felt that at least the most important of the early records should be printed in full. The present volumes mark the beginning of this undertaking, and that the task was possible is due to the generosity of a late member to whom the Society has always been under deep obligations and to whom, moreover, by reason of the rare books and pamphlets he had collected and the transcripts of important historical manuscripts he had caused to be made, all students of New England are indebted. In 1902 Mr. Frederick Lewis Gay offered to pay for the copying of College Books I, III, and IV, and to contribute $2000 towards the cost of printing. At that time it was supposed that the three Books would fill only a single volume. Later it was found that two volumes would be required, and Mrs. Gay, who had already shown her interest in the Society by the gift of valuable manuscripts and rare pamphlets, placed it further under heavy obligation by contributing $2000 towards the additional cost of printing. Hence these volumes are issued as a memorial to Mr. Gay.

    The Committee expresses the Society’s gratitude to the Corporation of Harvard College for permission to print these records. For help of various kinds, the Editor is greatly indebted to his colleagues on the Committee of Publication, especially Mr. George Lyman Kittredge, to the late Mr. Gay, and to Mr. William Coolidge Lane, Librarian of the Harvard College Library.

    For the Committee of Publication,

    Fred Norris Robinson,


    Boston, December 1, 1924.