June 29, 1944: Harvard President James B. Conant and Reginald Fitz, president of the Alumni Association, led graduates down the steps of Widener Library. With combined military and academic ceremonies illustrating – as Conant remarked in his report to the alumni – “the effect of total war on a university dedicated to the arts of peace,” Harvard observed its 293d commencement. In all schools of the university, Conant conferred only 251 degrees, the smallest number since 1875.
The Greater Boston area is a hub of higher education, therefore making spring a momentous season. For hundreds of years, students have adorned the traditional cap and gown to receive their degrees and participate in senior activities. Proud families and friends come from all over the world to see the pomp and circumstance.