The Centennial History of Tufts College, 1952

Jumbo Book


A Rural Campus Near a Great City

A Rural Campus Near a Great City


Those who were interested in the founding of the new college were more agreed about its academic and religious characteristics than they were as to its location. It was variously proposed that the institution should be established at Canton, New York, Franklin, Massachusetts, and in other places. It was even suggested that the college should be established in Cambridge. Those who made this proposal had in mind the separate colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. They felt that a new college could be founded in association with Harvard that might be quite separate in discipline and doctrine but still enjoy certain of the advantages of a university association in the English sense. Of course

this proposal did not prevail. Down through the years, however, Harvard, seeing in Tufts another institution devoted to the new religious liberalism, has assisted the younger


college in many ways. In this connection it may be interesting to note that when Tufts was founded Harvard by modern standards was still not a large institution. In 1859, Harvard had 320 undergraduates and an endowment of $888,611. It may also be interesting to Bostonians of the present day to remember that when Tufts was founded educational work had not yet begun at Boston University, Boston College, Wellesley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Radcliffe, Simmons, Northeastern, Brandeis, or the other institutions of higher education in this region.

The decision that led to the founding of

Tufts College on an independent campus partly in Medford and partly in that section
of Charlestown which had recently been named Somerville was determined by a gift of land from Charles Tufts of Charlestown. The Tufts family came to the Mystic Valley region in 1638 from Malden in England. The Tufts Mansion in Medford was one of the early "Great Houses" of New England. Charles Tufts was a large landowner in the northern part of suburban Boston. He supervised the farming of much of this land and was also a successful manufacturer. The original gift was twenty acres on what had up to that time been called Walnut Hill. Later Mr. Tufts largely increased his gift of land to the new college, which was given his name in gratitude. Symbolically Charles Tufts pointed to the top of the windswept height he had given to the new college and said, "I will put a light on it."