Talk:John Harvard (statue)

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Photo ideas[edit]

List begun by EEng (talk) -- others please add/comment at will, and of course take the photos if you're not a camera klutz like me. To avoid overloading the article, contrast etc. should be such that they can be included at fairly small size:

Composition / perspective ideas for other photos (possibly replacing one or both of those in article now -- though these are OK there's room for improvement) might be found at this blog, Life 1941.

I've uploaded detail images of the Harvard and Emmanuel seals, the books under the chair, and a view of the face roughly equivalent to the pic of Sherman Hoar. (Image requests for same deleted.) Magic♪piano 16:28, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
Great work! I've created a little horizontal "panorama" of details from left to right from the viewer's vantage. I'm not the artistic type but I think it's pretty cool. EEng (talk) 00:10, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Interesting photo (unfortunately still in copyright) of statue being prepared for move from Memorial Hall [1]. EEng (talk) 16:52, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

Emission omission[edit]

[The following is coped from [2]]: Hi EEng. In the past few hours you have removed large swathes of the article John Harvard statue. All of this information was well sourced as I painstakingly took weeks to find reliable sources for all of it. If you do not feel a source is reliable please instead of outright deleting the information, look to see if there is a reliable source for it. I will be re-inserting much of information you have deleted as it is well sourced, relevant, and important in regards to the statue. While the article may not have been a perfect article before, you have edited it down to a place where it now has one sentence paragraphs and is lacking tons of well known information about the statue. I would love to work with you on this article, and hopefully your scrutiny of references will make them better in the long run.--Found5dollar (talk) 14:53, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

I assume you're referring primarily to the "urination" material. As explained in my edit summaries, I believe that the references for the idea that the statue is routinely "used as a pissoir" and so on either
  • don't say that, or
  • where they do say (or imply) something like that, are apparently repeating campus legend with no indication that the assertion was treated by the source as a fact worth checking.
Beyond urination I have removed scattered information I think few readers would find of interest (such as the paraffin coating -- a common treatment for bronze monuments) or related to peripheral topics on which the reader will be better informed by other articles (such as background on French).
I'll be happy to discuss all this with you, but please give me a day to complete what I'm doing. In meantime please reivew carefully my edit summaries on the urination matter, which explain the reasoning for removing material as it was removed. Please engage those reasons before restoring the material again. EEng (talk) 16:57, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
What you currently have in the article is not factually equivalent to the previous versions, nor is it equivalent in layout to what was written before. You have completely blanked two entire sections of sourced information and removed the lead. I see you are an experienced editor so I will not edit the article for a day as you have asked, but as the article currently stands you have removed virtually all of the reliably sourced information that is compelling about the statue. I added new references this morning from the Boston Herald about the urination, but instead of reviewing the additions you just completely deleted the section for a second time. I will be asking at Reliable sources notice board if The Crimson is a reliable source in this instance, as I still believe it is. I will not be online for the rest of the day as I have tons of work I need to get done outside of wikipedia.--Found5dollar (talk) 18:23, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Also, it is very obvious from your edit summaries you either attend or work at Harvard University. If this is so you may want to be careful about any possible conflict of interest you may have with any Harvard articles.--Found5dollar (talk) 18:34, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
You may want to take your obviousness detector in for recalibration, since I am neither. EEng (talk) 08:06, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
WP:COI deals with self-promotion and benefiting monetarily from pushing a POV. It can't be extended to blocking Harvard-associated people from editing Harvard-related articles. Churn and change (talk) 18:56, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'm about to remove the "under construction" notice -- thanks for waiting. Where my edit summary said that version X was "factually equivalent to current version" it meant what it said -- X was meant to be factually equivalent to its immediately previous version X-1 -- not (as I think you are misinterpreting) to some earlier version before I started editing.

My edit summaries give the reasons for rejection of sources and removal of material; I am fairly careful in such matters and I need to ask you again to read and engage the reasoning already given in those summaries. For example, for my removal (about which you complain above) of the Herald piece as a source on urination, my summary said source doesn't say students urinate on statue, rather says that 2 student tour guides, not affiliated with H, "are fond of saying" that -- exact the stuff of campus legends. I see that you made a post at RSN [3] and I think the response you received there from another editor, re pissoir, is worth quoting:

"The Harvard Crimson, the university's student newspaper, is reliable, but what they report isn't necessarily encyclopedic. This seems a classic case of what not to include from a student-run newspaper of a major university."

EEng (talk) 08:06, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

The Harvard Crimson is now complaining about the omission: [4] ;) AndreasKolbe JN466 00:06, 20 October 2012 (UTC)


As Harvard Magazine (March-April 2004) [5] put so well,

Prank history is usually oral and is wont to warp as it passes from class to class. Nor can news reports be entirely trusted, distorted as they sometimes are by industrious, media-savvy pranksters, or by duplicitous student journalists, who may themselves be involved in the very pranks they report.

EEng (talk) 12:22, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Three lies[edit]

The name "Statue of the three lies" is a well known name for the state, weather or not it was created by "smartass guides". It is used by many news sources to refer to the statue. Here are just a few I quickly found: [6] [7] [8] It is a valid title that many people know the statue by.--Found5dollar (talk) 23:31, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

I can't find any mention in your third source; the first two use lower case for the name. Let's not give it any more prominence then it deserves, especially in light of the discussion relating to this name being a misnomer, itself plausibly a fourth lie. Hertz1888 (talk) 23:42, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Harvard Magazine calls it "statue of three lies" in this[9] interesting article about where the tradition of rubbing his left toe comes from.--Found5dollar (talk) 23:45, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Contrary to what you say, sources don't refer to the statue as "the statue of the three lies" i.e. they don't use that name expecting the reader to be familiar with it -- rather they introduce the phrase as a curiousity which will amuse and amaze. It's telling that even the H Mag piece you cite feels the need to explain what the "three lies" are, suggesting that it doesn't expect everyone in even its own narrow audience -- Harvard folks -- to understand what "the statue of the three lies" is without having it explained to them. That's why H Mag, like just about every other serious source (read: not Sunday travel sections and other material with low levels of editorial oversight) puts the three-lies moniker in "scare quotes". (I don't like the term scare quotes myself, which is why I enclosed it in so-called scare quotes.)

Finally, please think about why we don't find the following leads in other Wikipedia articles:

  • George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799), also known as the Father of His Country, was one of the...
  • Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931), also known as the Wizard of Menlo Park, was an...
  • Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964), also known as The Great Engineer and The Great Humanitarian, was the...
  • George Smith Patton, Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945), also known as Old Blood and Guts, was an officer in the...
  • Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994), also known as Tricky Dick, was the...
  • George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946), also known as Dubya, is an American politician and businessman who...
  • In Greek mythology Helen of Troy, also known as the face that launched a thousand ships, was the...

For contrast, here's a lead that does, appropriately, give an alternate title for a work of art (though you'll note it doesn't include also known as Lady Liberty):

  • The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor...

I've again removed the "aka 3 lies" text from the lead. The phrase plays a part in a ritual narrative which undergraduates and tourguides recite for thier parents and patrons, but that's it. The phrase "statue of teh three lies" is never uttered outside a 15-foot radius of the statue itself, except in discussions such as this one. The final paragraph mentions the term in exactly the appropriate context, and that's all that's warranted. Anything more is WP:UNDUE.

EEng (talk) 09:37, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Here is a Harvard University web source indicating that the statue is "nicknamed the 'statue of three lies'". Per Wikipedia policy, it does not matter what editors think, or how one might reason in support of a position, if reputable sources present otherwise. Cheers. (talk) 14:05, 24 March 2018 (UTC)

Additional sources and notes[edit]


  • [10] Gazette 2013
  • John Harvard in the Smithsonian's Inventory of American Sculpture (seems to confirm title of work is John Harvard, but misspells VERITAS and possibly confuses left-right placement of seals -- depending whether left-right is from our POV or from JH's; also gives details of founder's mark etc.)
  • [11] Someone's blog, part of a larger website [12] on French's works (in turn part of an even larger website on, um... trombones?) -- not usable as a source, but helpful
    • Has some great images, presumably not importable to WP, but could be used as basis for requests for someone to get usable images.
      • There appears to be some sort of medalion or seal on the back of the chair -- French's mark? -- or... one source mentions the foundry's mark being somewhere -- is this it (though it seems very prominent)? Not foundry mark -- ran into a source mentioning the foundary mark is near the base of the statue (base of the statue, not base of the plinth). EEng (talk) 19:02, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
      • It looks like it's hard to get the inscription on the front face to show well
    • Implies title of work is "John Harvard Monument" -- this may be the whole setup including plinth etc. -- word doc [13] implies statue itself may be just John Harvard
    • Says that French made a bust of Hoar first, then worked from that
    • Obviously he's working from some source(s), but he doesn't say which
  • [14] (thanks Hertz) probably not reliable in itself, but points to good stuff e.g. Craven quote
  • [15] American Art and Arch, vol 19, p279ff
    • Be prepared for a shock -- the dwg at the top of the page looks like a grotesque parody of French's JH, but it turns out to be a decrepit, seated Voltaire
    • Extensive discussion of statue as artwork

JH bio, bequest, founding of H[edit]


  • "100 years of solitude" says Lampoon sources is "Lament of John H" 1924
  • [16] suggests it's in 1920 vol of Lampoon
  • The reference to the Lampoon drawing of John fleeing his original location was republished in the centennial anthology of 1976. (talk) 16:05, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
Wow, thanks! Widener's copy does not appear to have been stolen -- miracle of miracles -- so I will track it down in due course. Again I thank you, our fellow editor Hertz thanks you, America thanks you. EEng (talk) 16:35, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
Aye (said John). Hertz1888 (talk) 16:50, 20 May 2015 (UTC)


  • Apparently Bridge (full name Samuel James Bridge) was trying to singlehandedly populate the Harvard Square area with Puritans in bronze -- here's his gift of a statue, for Camb. Common, of an ancestor of his [17].
  • He's also the donor of medals discussed here [18] -- see Cambridge Common link for bio material making it clear these are the same people.
  • obit, Boston Evening Transcript -- quotes Bridge as calling Harvard statue, along with John Bridge statue on Cambridge Common, as "trifling reminders I have lived in the world."
  • Bridge geneaology
  • [19] more Bridge geneal -- thanks Hertz,


  • Probably deserves its own article
  • Mentioned in zillions of art catalogs, usually as Henry Brossard Bronze Company but appears to actually be Henry-Brossard Bronze Company.
  • The Founders and Editors of the Bayre Bronzes, Reinis, pp.100-103: Cast bronze for sculptors JQA Ward, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, George Barnard, Frederick Remington, Paul Bartlett and Daniel Chester French. "With offices in West Forty-second Street, a new foundry was opened in Mount Vernon, New York, about 1906. The firm was dissolved in 1926."
  • Possibly addl info in Michael E. Shapiro, Bronze Casting and American Sculpture (1965) pp.171-2
  • At some point owned by "The Copper King" William A. Clark [20]
  • Somehow associated with Frederic Remington; did "exquisite bronze work at the Pennsylvania Capitol" [21]
  • [22][23]
  • In the 1990s someone using the name was accused of defrauding art collectors. [24][25]

EEng (talk) 22:57, 18 October 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ The John Harvard Statue. The New York Times. October 16, 1884. Retrieved October 2, 2012.

Misc research needed[edit]

Some things that need looking into -- feel free to annotate and/or add others.

Name of statue-monument / title of article[edit]

  • John Harvard statue (current title) -- if this is indeed the formal title of the artwork then article title should probably be John Harvard Statue
  • if the formal title of the artwork is John Harvard then the article title should probably be John Harvard (statue) or maybe John Harvard (monument) though there's a JH monument at the Phipps Street Burying Ground which may deserve an article of its own and which would have a claim on the same title.
  • There may be JH memorials, monuments, statues elsewhere (London, Cambridge U.) so a dab page may be in the offing as well

I suggest we leave things as they are for now -- no urgency to change anything, so let's wait for some saint of patience to come by and get the full lay of the land before changing anything. EEng (talk) 16:50, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

I have created a page called "John Harvard (statue)" to reserve that title in case it might be needed later. If the formal name of French's work turns out to be John Harvard, the two article titles can be swapped. At that point the title may need to be partially italicized as "John Harvard (statue)". For now the new page serves as a redirect. Hertz1888 (talk) 10:42, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Moved - David Gerard (talk) 11:12, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

ER Hoar overseership[edit]

  • page 4 of [26] is dated Oct 15, 1884, and refers to "Ebeneezer Rockwood Hoar" as chairman of overseers. But his WP article says he was overseer only through 1882. We need this resolved. There's probably a Harvard history somewhere listing all the overseers and chairmen but I couldn't find one easily. A website is reliable enough for this purpose. Added by EEng (talk)

Date of gift[edit]

  • Inscription at rear reads Given by Samuel James Bridge • June 17, 1883, vs letter of offer read June 27. Presumably either the letter either carried the date June 17, or perhaps it was received June 17, or some unspoken negotiation was concluded on June 17. Inquring minds want to know.
  • Bunting says "commissioned 1882" -- Bridge's June 1883 letter strongly implies he has already been in contact with French, and that certainly could have been as early as 1882, though whether there was an actual "commission" that early is a different question

Move from Delta[edit]

  • H Lib Bull 1983 "When, in 1924, President A. L. Lowell, 1877, had the statue of John Harvard moved from its original site in the delta west of Memorial Hall to its present location, the cement slab was taken to the basement of Weld Hall. The slab was later..." (limited preview)


  • What is the exact correct name of the firm?
  • One source says casting was by H-B "of New York" -- is that NYC, or elsewhere in NY State, or both? From sources they clearly had (at some point) offices in NYC, and opened a new foundry somewhere upstate.
Eliminating //clarif-needed// by simply dropping this detail from the text. When someone (ahem) tackles an article on the company, he or she can pursue this. EEng (talk) 14:58, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Original location vs. Bridge's letter[edit]

Bridge's original offer of gift p.3 of [27] proposed a location "in the south end of the enclosure in which Memorial Hall stands". It's hard to envision what that meant exactly, especially with all the changes to the area; certainly the eventual location (in the Delta, before the move to the Yard) was west of Mem Hall itself but that's not necessarily inconsistent with being in the "south end of the enclosure", depending on what "the enclosure" means. Need to be sure note to stray into OR on this but possibly a source can be scared up resolving this apparent discrepancy. Added by EEng (talk)

Maybe this will provide some partial perspective, among the OR. Once upon a time, long before tunnels were built and the area redesigned, there was a triangular block bounded by three streets, as seen on the map at Harvard Branch Railroad (north is not at the top). Mem Hall was built on the eastern end of this block, leaving a smaller triangle of vacant land to the west—where the statue was placed. We know that location was referred to as being on the Delta; a ref. (to be provided) identifies the full block as the Delta. As for "the "enclosure", that may refer to the wrought-iron fence seen, in an old photograph, along at least two sides of Mem Hall and adjoining the area where the statue is visible. I don't know what might be meant by the "south end", but the photo does show the statue both west of Mem Hall and closer to the southern side of the block (Cambridge St.) than to any other. Cheers, Hertz1888 (talk) 00:50, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
(Before I forget: OR is OK, of course, as long as in the end we turn up appropriate sources to support the outcome. I suspect a trip to H. Archives is in somebody's future.) The map helps, but it's a very large triangle -- I think the pointy apex of it is about at the western corner of the pavement in front of the Science Ctr (just north of the Commencement tent seen here Googlemaps seems to turn on "45-degree" feature automatically and you need to turn that off to see the tent -- pull down the menu marked "Traffic") -- Mem Hall doesn't occupy the eastern end so much as the southern part of the eastern 2/3.

What nags me is: why did Bridge describe the proposed location in terms of the "enclosure" instead of simply with respect to Mem Hall itself e.g. "some yards west of Mem Hall" or whatever. Some additional thoughts:

  • Maybe Bridge originally had a different location in mind -- along the south side of Mem Hall (facing Cambridge Street)? But then, as before, why not just say that instead of talking about the "enclosure"?
  • (Admittedly unlikely...) Maybe Bridge had the same location in mind as the "Delta" location on which it in fact was placed, but was a bit mixed up about which way is south? But if so, in the Camb Hist Soc photo you linked from the article we can see that the location is much closer to Mem Hall than is the tent seen on Google, so even if Bridge thought "south" was toward Camb Common, you wouldn't call this the south "end" of the triangle (but perhaps the "enclosure" enclosed a smaller plot than the full triangle formed by Kirkland, Quincy, Cambridge St. as seen on the map -- I'm thinking now of this fence you mention).
  • I had the idea that maybe Bridge wanted JH to look out toward the Camb Common to the spot on which he had just erected the "John Bridge" statue, but it turns out [28] that John Bridge is much too far north for this (near Waterhouse and what was then called North St., now Mass Ave).
Well, this is still a mystery. In time we'll figure it out. EEng (talk) 06:13, 31 October 2012 (UTC)


  • Crimson1984 says "over $20K". Contemporary sources probably have figure -- try annual report of the Corporation. EEng (talk) 14:58, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Social network[edit]

The statue was mentioned in the movie in one of the scenes. I think that information must be added to it. TheOriginalSoni (talk) 19:32, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

The film, like many others set at Harvard, mentions zillions of Harvard locations and landmarks. Does the appearance of the statue (or a fake of it, actually -- H doesn't allow filming on its property, in general -- pretty funny actually: a fake statue of a reputedly fake statue!) in the film tell us something about the statue? Is there a reliable secondary source commenting on the significance of its use in the film? EEng (talk) 02:46, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
Those snobs at Hahvahd probably think they're too good for an "in popular culture" section. But seriously, please don't. John Anderton (talk) 06:41, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
At Harvard it's called cultura vulgaris or cinema hoi polloi but whatever the term, certainly Harvard articles mustn't be alllwed to be so sullied. Unless there's a reliable source commenting on it, of course. EEng (talk) 13:16, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
By the way, nice work on the article. Thanks for both that and a good laugh. John Anderton (talk) 05:57, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

"Fish horns"[edit]

One of the newspapers quoted in the notes refers to students celebrating with "fish-horns". These are apparently very annoying horns used by fishmongers to attract business. See [29]. I'd like to see something added to wiktionary so we can link to that from here, but creating a while new wikt entry is above my paygrade. EEng (talk) 03:00, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

The fish chowder thickens [30] [31] EEng (talk) 05:33, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
Added a request at Wiktionary [32]. EEng (talk) 18:49, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

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Harvard source indicates text inaccuracy[edit]

However the tradition might have begun, it appears Harvard students now engage in the behaviour of which the WP article declares them free. See [here for a Harvard web page indicating that current students do now rub the toe of the statue, "hoping that it will give them luck on their next hard exam". Matter here is not what Harvard grads believe, or recall—it is not personal knowledge that matters—but what the sources say. And this one appears as reputable as is necessary. Cheers. (talk) 14:00, 24 March 2018 (UTC)

Unsigned, unsourced, semiliterate and error-ridden (The John Harvard statue is a mainstay of Harvard Yard; the amount of photos taken; Harvard received its official famous name on March 13, 1639, named for the renowned benefactor seated in “lies.”; major benefactor to the University; a US district attorney; engraving on the statue) tertiary "gee-whiz" fluff is not a reliable source, and certainly can't compete with a signed article in Harvard Magazine explaining the source of what it asserts. EEng 05:29, 26 March 2018 (UTC)