The Harvard Crimson

This article is about the Harvard College daily student newspaper. For the Harvard athletic program, see Harvard Crimson.
The Harvard Crimson

Seal of The Harvard Crimson corporation
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) The trustees of The Harvard Crimson
President Mariel A. Klein
Founded January 24, 1873 (1873-01-24)
Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Harvard Crimson, the daily student newspaper of Harvard University, was founded in 1873.[1] It is the only daily newspaper in Cambridge, Massachusetts,[2] and is run entirely by Harvard College undergraduates. Many Crimson alumni have gone on to careers in journalism, and some have won Pulitzer Prizes.

About The Crimson

The Harvard Crimson office

Any student who volunteers and completes a series of requirements known as the "comp" is elected an editor of the newspaper.[3] Thus, all staff members of The Crimson—including writers, business staff, photographers, and graphic designers—are technically "editors". (If an editor makes news, he or she is referred to in the paper's news article as a "Crimson editor", which, though important for transparency, also leads to characterizations such as "former President John F. Kennedy '40, who was also a Crimson editor, ended the Cuban Missile Crisis.") Editorial and financial decisions rest in a board of executives, collectively called a "guard", who are chosen for one-year terms each November by the outgoing guard. This process is referred to as the "turkey shoot" or the "shoot". The unsigned opinions of "The Crimson Staff" are decided at tri-weekly meetings that are open to any Crimson editor (except those editors who plan to write or edit a news story on the same topic in the future).

The Crimson is almost the only college newspaper in the U.S. that owns its own printing presses. At the beginning of 2004 The Crimson began publishing with a full-color front and back page, in conjunction with the launch of a major redesign. The Crimson also prints over fifteen other publications on its presses.

The Crimson has a rivalry with the Harvard Lampoon, which it refers to in print as a "semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine". "Young Rich pens book deal", is one example of this running joke: "Penning books in the humor category seems fitting because Rich, as the statement takes care to mention, is the president of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine."[4][5] The two organizations occupy buildings within less than one block of each other; interaction between their staff has included pranks, vandalism, and even romance.[6]

Crimson alumni include Presidents John F. Kennedy of the Class of 1940 (who served as a business editor) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (who served as president of the newspaper), Class of 1904. Writer Cleveland Amory was president of The Crimson; when Katharine Hepburn's mother asked him what he planned to do after college, he says he replied teasingly that "once you had been president of The Harvard Crimson in your senior year at Harvard there was very little, in after life, for you."[7]

Currently, The Crimson publishes two weekly pullout sections in addition to its regular daily paper: an Arts section on Tuesdays and a magazine called Fifteen Minutes on Thursdays.

The Crimson is a nonprofit organization that is independent of the university. All decisions on the content and day-to-day operations of the newspaper are made by undergraduates. The student leaders of the newspaper employ several non-student staff, many of whom have stayed on for many years and have come to be thought of as family members by the students who run the paper.


Early years

The Harvard Crimson was one of many college newspapers founded shortly after the Civil War and describes itself as "the nation's oldest continuously published daily college newspaper", although this description is contested by other college newspapers.[8] The Yale Daily News, published daily since its 1878 founding except for breaks during World War I and II, calls itself the "Oldest College Daily". The Columbia Daily Spectator, founded in 1877, claims to be the second-oldest college daily. The Brown Daily Herald, established in 1866 and daily since 1891, claims to be the second-oldest college newspaper and fifth-oldest college daily. The Cornell Daily Sun, launched in 1880, claims to be the "oldest independent college newspaper". The Dartmouth of Dartmouth College, which opened in 1843 as a monthly, calls itself the oldest college newspaper, though not the oldest daily, and makes a claim to institutional continuity with a local eighteenth-century paper called the Dartmouth Gazette.

The Crimson traces its origin to the first issue of The Magenta, published January 24, 1873, despite strong discouragement from the Dean. The faculty of the College had suspended the existence of several previous student newspapers, including the Collegian, whose motto Dulce et Periculum ("sweet and dangerous") represented the precarious place of the student press at Harvard University in the late nineteenth century. The Magenta's editors declined Dean Burney's advice and moved forward with a biweekly paper, "a thin layer of editorial content surrounded by an even thinner wrapper of advertising".

The paper changed its name to The Crimson in 1875 when Harvard changed its official color by a vote of the student body—the announcement came with a full-page editorial announcing "magenta is not now, and ... never has been, the right color of Harvard." This particular issue, May 21, 1875, also included several reports on athletic events, a concert review, and a call for local shopkeepers to stock the exact shade of crimson ribbon, to avoid "startling variations in the colors worn by Harvard men at the races".

The Crimson included more substance in the 1880s, as the paper's editors were more eager to engage in a quality of journalism like that of muckraking big-city newspapers; it was at this time that the paper moved first from a biweekly to a weekly, and then to a daily in 1883.

In 1885, The Crimson switched from a fortnightly publication to a daily newspaper.[9]

Twentieth century

The paper flourished at the beginning of the twentieth century with the acquisition of its own and current building on Plympton Street in 1915, the purchase of Harvard Illustrated Magazine and the establishment of the editorial board in 1911.[10] The Illustrated's editors became Crimson photographers, and thereby established the photographic board. The addition of this and the editorial board brought the paper to become, in essence, the modern Crimson. The newspaper's president no longer authored editorials single-handedly, and the paper took stronger editorial positions.

The 1930s and 1940s were dark years for The Crimson; reduced financial resources and competition from a publication established by ex-editors meant serious challenges to the paper's viability. In 1943, the banner on the paper read Harvard Service News and the stories focused almost exclusively on Harvard's contribution to the war effort. Under the authority of so-called wartime administrative necessity, alumni discouraged the Service News from editorializing. The paper was administered during the war by a board of University administrators, alumni, and students.

In 1934, The Crimson defended a proposal by Adolf Hitler's press secretary, Ernst F. Sedgwick Hanfstaengl, to donate to Harvard a prize scholarship to enable a Harvard student to attend a Nazi university. The Harvard Corporation voted unanimously to refuse the offer: "We are unwilling to accept a gift from one who has been so closely identified with the leadership of a political party which has inflicted damage on the universities of Germany through measures which have struck at principles we believe to be fundamental to universities throughout the world." The Crimson defended it, "That political theories should prevent a Harvard student from enjoying an opportunity for research in one of the world's greatest cultural centers is most unfortunate and scarcely in line with the liberal traditions of which Harvard is pardonably proud."[11]

Post-war growth

The paper went back to its civilian version in 1946, and as the Army and Navy moved out of Harvard, The Crimson grew larger, more financially secure, more diversified, and more aware of the world outside the campus during the early Cold War era than its pre-WWII predecessor had been.

The paper, although financially independent and independent of editorial control by the Harvard University administration, was under the University's administrative control insofar as it was composed of university students who were subject to the university's rules. Radcliffe women on staff were forced to follow curfews to which Harvard men were not subject, and that interfered greatly with the late hours required in producing a newspaper. Throughout the 1950s, The Crimson and various university officials exchanged letters debating these restrictions. Crimson editors pushed for later curfews for their female writers, who grew increasingly important in day-to-day operations. Under president Phillip Cronin '53, women became staff members rather than Radcliffe correspondents.

Crimson writers were involved in national issues, especially when anti-communist investigative committees came to Harvard. Future Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Anthony Lukas' stories (most notably, an interview with HUAC witness Wendell H. Furry) were sometimes picked up by the Associated Press. Not even a staff writer yet, Lukas had arrived at the university with Joseph McCarthy's home number in his pocket. His father was an opponent of McCarthy's and a member of the American Jewish Committee, the group that produced Commentary magazine.

Modern-day paper

The Harvard Crimson, Inc. was incorporated as a nonprofit Massachusetts corporation in 1966; the incorporation was involuntarily revoked, then revived, in 1986.[12]

In 1991, student reporters for The Crimson were the first to break the news that Harvard had selected former Princeton Provost Neil Leon Rudenstine to succeed Derek Bok as President of the university. The reporters, who had learned of a secret meeting in New York, got their confirmation when they approached a surprised Rudenstine on his plane ride back to Boston. The story appeared in an extra bearing the dateline "Somewhere Over New England". Crimson editors repeated the scoop in 2001, beating out national media outlets to report that Lawrence Summers would succeed Rudenstine, and again in 2007, being the first to report Drew Gilpin Faust's ascension to the presidency.[13]

Throughout the 1990s, there was a great deal of focus on making the staff of the paper more inclusive and diverse. Over time, a financial aid program was instituted to try to address the problem of a lack of socio-economic diversity. Today, some 90 editors participate in the financial aid program every semester.

On January 12, 2004, The Crimson printed its first color edition after obtaining and installing 4 new Goss Community color presses. The date also marked the unveiling of a major redesign of the paper itself.

In 2004, The Crimson filed a lawsuit against Harvard University to force the Harvard University Police Department to release more complete records to the public. The case was heard before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November 2005. In January 2006, the court decided the case in favor of the University.

In November 2005, The Crimson had its records subpoenaed by ConnectU, a firm suing Facebook, its better-known competitor. The Crimson challenged the subpoena, and said that it would not comply with ConnectU's demands for documents.

On April 23, 2006, The Crimson was the first to allege that portions of Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan's highly publicized debut young adult novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life had been plagiarized from two bestselling books by novelist Megan McCafferty.[14][15][16] Further allegations were later made that Viswanathan's novel had drawn inappropriately from other novels as well.[14][15][16]

Notable past senior members

Recent Presidents

Recent Managing Editors

Publications (from The Staff of The Harvard Crimson)

See also


  1. Brubacher, John S.; Willis Rudy (1997). Higher Education in Transition. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-56000-917-9., p. 137: "After the Civil War ... on almost every campus a publication was established which modeled its form, content, and purpose on regular daily newspapers. The Yale Daily News, first to be founded, is still in operation. The Harvard Crimson began in 1873 as a more newsy rival of The Advocate. Ten years later, it merged with a competitor to become a daily."
  2. Massachusetts Newspapers lists two other Cambridge papers--The Tech, which is a biweekly paper, and The Cambridge Chronicle, which is a weekly
  3. Several Harvard student groups, including the Harvard Lampoon and Harvard Advocate, use the term "comp" to refer to their training and selection process of new members. The term is often considered an abbreviation for "competition", although Crimson editors say that their use of the word "comp" is an abbreviation for "competency", emphasizing the training aspect of the comp.
  4. Harvard Crimson, February 1, 2006
  5. "Young Rich Lands Book Deal". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  6. "Weddings: Molly Confer, John Aboud III". The New York Times. 2000-05-07. Retrieved 2008-08-13. An example of a Crimson-Lampoon romance that ended in a "rumble on the prairie" and marriage.
  7. Amory, Cleveland (1993). The Best Cat Ever. Little, Brown. p. 100. ISBN 0316037443.
  8. "About". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  9. Colorful Crimson History Began with Off-Color Magenta, Crimson, April 9, 1946.
  10. "Celebrating One Hundred Years: The Harvard Crimson Editorial Board, 1911-2011". The Harvard Crimson. 2011-01-24. Retrieved 2011-01-24. When The Crimson went daily, its editorial content became the express domain of its president, which lasted until 1911, when President Daniel Nugent, Class of 1911, established a separate editorial board, which has been a key fixture in the Harvard and local Boston community ever since. To be perfectly honest, it should be said that even in 1911 the Crimson's higher executives had a much more influential voice when it came to staff editorials; by the mid-1930s, formal editorial meetings, open to the entire staff, were held regularly as they are today.
  11. Schlesinger, Andrew (November 18, 2004). "The real story of Nazi's Harvard visit".
  12. "The Harvard Crimson, Incorporated", Commonwealth of Massachusetts, ID 042426396
  13. "Faust Expected To Be Named Harvard President This Weekend". The Harvard Crimson. February 8, 2007. Archived from the original on March 1, 2007.
  14. 1 2 Zhou, David (April 23, 2006). "Student's Novel Faces Plagiarism Controversy". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  15. 1 2 Smith, Dinitia (April 25, 2006). "Harvard Novelist Says Copying Was Unintentional". The New York Times. Retrieved May 31, 2006.
  16. 1 2 Zhou, David; Bhayani, Paras D. (May 2, 2006). "'Opal' Similar to More Books". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  17. "Maida S. Abrams, Art Benefactor, Dies". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  18. "Crimson Downs Stubborn Bulldog, 7-0". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  19. The Harvard Crimson: "The 'West' and the Brightest - These Harvard graduates learned triumph and defeat in national politics. Then they went to Hollywood to write what they knew" By Jessica E. Gould October 17, 2003
  20. "Steve Ballmer". Microsoft. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  21. Grimes, William (October 21, 2009). "Stephen Barnett, a Leading Legal Scholar, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  23. "14 to Receive Honorary Degrees". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  24. The New York Times Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  27. "Old Crimson Interview Reveals A More Radical John Kerry". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  30. "Biography for Jim Cramer". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  31. 1 2 3 4 "About". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
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  33. "The Nation: Man with the Monkey Wrench". Time. June 28, 1971.
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  36. "Mark D. Gearan". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  37. "George J(erome) W(aldo) Goodman Biography". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  38. 1 2 "Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  41. "Hertzberg of the New Yorker". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  42. "A Kennedy Content to Stay in the Shadows". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  43. "From Marxist to Welfare Reformer". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  44. 1 2 "Nicholas Kristof". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  45. "Chuck Lane". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  47. "Columbia News ::: Nicholas Lemann Agrees To Become Journalism Dean, Subject to University Trustees' Approval". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  48. "Champion of Underdogs". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  49. "Law School Archives Nuremberg". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  50. F. Paul Driscoll (6 July 2015). "James S. Marcus, Longtime Metropolitan Opera Guild Board Member and Former Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera, has Died". Opera News.
  51. "A Sentimentalist". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  56. Scott Rosenberg. "Crimson reminiscence". Wordyard. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  59. "Rapport With Reporters". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  60. Robert Ellis Smith (25 June 2015). "Home - Privacy Journal". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  62. "Paul Sweezy, 93; Marxist, economist, Harvard teacher". The Boston Globe. 3 March 2004. Archived from the original on May 14, 2006.
  65. Patsuris, Penelope. "Spontaneous Profits". Forbes.
  66. "Weller to Talk on Housing". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  67. "Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology". AdWeek. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  68. "Harvard on Speed". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
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