The COVID-19 evacuation wasn’t Harvard’s first, explain historians

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 07:30 in Psychology & Sociology

The evacuation of campus two months ago due to the mushrooming coronavirus outbreak was a jarring but orderly affair. But then, it turns out, Harvard has had significant and varied experience with upheaval. In 1775 George Washington’s Continental Army occupied the campus, and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety ordered Harvard to vacate its grounds. Professor Joyce Chaplin reminded her students of that earlier crisis during their last on-campus class on March 11 as a way to offer some comfort by putting the move to distance learning into a historical context. “I wanted to try to reassure students that this was not unprecedented,” said Chaplin, the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History. “The assumption was that Harvard had never had to do this before.” And other experts of the period note that not only has Harvard faced other trials, but the one in the early days of the Revolution left many students...

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