This year's 344-page, six-pound, two-ounce, '43-'44 Harvard Album not only outweighs previous issues, but outshines them in solid craftsmanship, innumerable light touches, and lasting significance. Where previous books have been chiefly photographic, this year's is also interpretative, not only of the events of the past four years at Harvard, but of the more general trends in education and in society.
The three sections on "The Humanities," "The Social Studies," and "The Natural Sciences," which have replaced the traditional graveyard of unrecognizable Faculty photos are the high spots of the volume. These sections, illustrated with well-chosen candid shots of teachers in the fields, and each written by an outstanding Faculty member, serve to place a Harvard education in its social and intellectual context. Professor F. O. Matthiesscu's article on the value of the Humanities in a world at war should make the Album required reading for every American college student and instructor.
What these sections do from the Faculty point of view, the "Harvard Today" essay does from the student's angle. Here again a history of the three hundred-and-first and three hundred-and-second Harvard classes becomes only the foundation for an interpretation of what the young men of America have been thinking, and of the beliefs for which they are now fighting.
The "Harvard Poll," which in addition to the traditional biographies, activities, and athletics sections, completes the annual, achieves a lightness of touch that more than refutes any charges of overseriousness, and gets its point across at the same time.
A remarkable selection of photographs and drawings, skillfully arranged, makes the Album a pleasure to read. The division pages are particularly well-handled, and the candid Faculty shots are real portraits.
In producing an Album during a war year, the Board faced a peculiarly difficult problem, but they faced it squarely. "We have attempted," they say in their introduction, "to give some special meaning to parts of the book that have heretofore been mere tradition." In this attempt they have produced something that every student should be anxious to read, not only as he leaves Harvard, but as he takes on heavier responsibilities in a world at war.