Harvard University is a private US university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the Boston metropolitan area. It was founded with private contributions in 1636 by John Harvard and is part of the Ivy League. Harvard is the oldest university institution in the United States and the first corporation, officially The President and Fellows of Harvard College, registered in the nation.
It was established on September 18, 1636 following a resolution of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Initially called the New College, it took the name of Harvard College on March 13, 1639 in honor of John Harvard, its main financier, who had bequeathed to the college his library (about 400 books) and a significant sum of money, with which the institute was renovated and expanded to accommodate about thirty students.
Subsequently, some reforms implemented between 1869 and 1909 introduced courses with limited numbers, selection exams for access and classes were organized preferentially made up of a few students. In the early nineteenth the institution emerged as the leading cultural center among Boston's social elite.
Harvard has a friendly rivalry with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that dates back to the 1900s, when a merger between the two schools was frequently suggested and at one point officially agreed to, but overruled by the Massachusetts legislature.
Today, the two schools cooperate as much as they compete, through joint programs and conferences, including the Division of Health Sciences and Technology, the Harvard-MIT Data Center, and the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. Furthermore, the students of the two schools can enroll in courses of the other school without paying additional fees, obtaining credits to obtain the degree in their own University.
Major student organizations at Harvard include the Crimson, the Harvard Lampoon, the Harvard Advocate, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and the Harvard Glee Club. The Harvard-Radcliffe orchestra, composed mostly of students, was founded in 1808 as the Pierian Sodality.