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Harvard University Archives
Harvard Summer School for Cuban Teachers

Summer School!

At right, Cuban teachers travel to Harvard on board the Sedgwick, 1900.

HUE 83.700 p PF (Sedgwick)

Cuban teachers on board the Sedgwick, 1900.  HUE 83.700 p PF (Sedgwick)

The Harvard Summer School for Cuban Teachers


Harvard’s Summer School for Cuban Teachers was proposed in February 1900 by two Harvard alumni: Alexis E. Frye, Superintendent of Schools for Cuba by appointment of the U.S. military, and Ernest Lee Conant, an American lawyer practicing in Havana. The goals of the program were to provide educational and cultural enrichment for the teachers and to forge closer ties between Cuba and the United States. By this time, the Harvard Summer School enjoyed a national reputation and both men felt that their alma mater would provide the best setting for such an endeavor. The Harvard Corporation voted to approve the project and it was endorsed by General Leonard Wood, Military Governor of Cuba.

In June and early July of 1900 nearly 1300 Cubans, most of whom were teachers, traveled to Cambridge by U.S. government transport. The men were housed in Harvard College dormitories, while the women lived in private homes nearby. Men and women dined separately, in Randall and Memorial Halls.

The program of instruction included two English lessons daily; lectures in Spanish on physiography that were illustrated by field trips to sites in the Boston area; lectures on American libraries and schools; and lectures on the psychology of imitation and allied faculties in children. In addition, the women attended special lectures on kindergarten education, while the men received instruction in American "sloyd" (shopwork). Excursions to local sites of historical, cultural and industrial interest were also organized.

The arrival of the Cuban teachers in Cambridge was widely publicized and their various activities were well documented in the press. Many local individuals and community groups provided social events, tours and other services. Following their stay at Harvard, the teachers traveled to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia before returning to Cuba.

A surplus of funds raised to support the Cuban Summer School of 1900 enabled a group of eighty Cuban teachers to return to Harvard the following summer for instruction in English. For several years thereafter, small groups of Cuban teachers returned to Harvard for summer study and received stipends from this fund.


Read more about Harvard’s Summer School for Cuban Teachers in the Annual Reports of the President and Treasurer of Harvard College, 1899-1900


Cuban teachers on board the Crook, 1900. HUE 83.700 p PF (Crook)


Cuban teachers on board the Crook, 1900. HUE 83.700 p PF (Crook)