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Directions of a Town - A History of Harvard, Massachusetts

Directions of a Town - A History of Harvard, Massachusetts

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A History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts by Robert C. Anderson. Published by Harvard Historical Society in 1993.

When Harvard was founded in 1732, the town was an extremely close-knit community of little more than three hundred persons. There was only one church, and it transacted its affairs in the same building used for town business. Indeed the town meeting and the church meeting can be viewed as two aspects of the same institution - the entire populace of the town acting as one organic, unified entity to direct all aspects of life in the town. As Harvard evolved, this tightly unified structure was broken down into less integrated components. Other churches were founded, and finally, in 1820, the church was formally severed from the town. Communal aspects of other town activities disappeared or diminished - construction projects were let out to contract, rather than being done by all-volunteer labor; highway work was performed by hired laborers instead of by all landholders in town. These examples could be multiplies endlessly, but they all point in one direction; nearly every change in Harvard's institutions and ways of life, whether these changes be termed progressive or regressive, can be seen as a movement away from the unified communal life of 1732. Harvard is not as integrated a community as it was two and a half centuries ago; but Harvard is still very much a community, more so than many other towns in the same part of Massachusetts. This is the greatest legacy that the present citizens of Harvard have received from those who have gone before.


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