African American Heritage Trail – Harvard & The Law

February 1, 2013

The African American Heritage Trail includes individuals, born in the mid-19th century, who were among the first generation of African American attorneys in Boston and the first blacks to graduate from Harvard Law School. The Cemetery historically shared deep connections with the University. Harvard students loved to explore the area they knew as “Sweet Auburn.” “The vicinity of our venerable University suggests an interesting train of associations, connected with this spot,” Harvard President and Mount Auburn Trustee Edward Everett explained. “It has ever been the favorite resort of the students. . . . It will become the place of burial for the University.”[1] Harvard faculty and graduates who have since been buried at Mount Auburn include noted abolitionists Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Henry Ware, Joseph Story, and Charles Sumner. It was here that George Ruffin, Clement Morgan, and William Henry Lewis, among the early African American graduates from Harvard Law School, also came to rest.

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[1] Edward Everett, Horticultural Proceedings, 1832 in Jacob Bigelow, A History of the Cemetery of Mount Auburn. Boston: Munroe and Company, 1860, p. 141.

Funding for this project has been provided by the 1772 Foundation; Mass Humanities; the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (made possible by the National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom); the Cambridge Arts Council and the Watertown Cultural Council (local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency); and contributions from Sydney Nathans, Mary K. Zervigon, and the family of Katherine Knox.

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