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A brief history of Harvard Divinity School

Harvard's Divinity Hall
Harvard's Divinity Hall

Those who want to pursue degrees in theology, study women in religion or train for religious careers at Harvard go to Harvard Divinity School. There are several possible degrees to earn from this school and a wide variety of religions to study. The school is ostensibly non-denominational, though the school does have some connections to strictly Christian denominations.

Harvard Divinity School is one of the oldest branches of Harvard. The prestigious learning establishment itself dates back to the 17th century. From that time, Harvard had strongly religious roots. Initially, the school, and really all of Boston, was Puritan. It taught Puritanism and Protestantism, including training for religious careers. However, there was no separate school for religious learning and training until 1816.

When Harvard Divinity School became an entity unto itself, it was nondenominational, making it the first of its kind in the United States. While the school has the aforementioned ties to Christianity, it has branched out a lot from the time of its inception and now includes many global religions in its offerings. Thanks to this diversification, the Harvard Divinity School somewhat mirrors the history of religion in the United States and Boston from staunch Puritanism to rampant Christianity and finally to a path of acceptance of spiritual beliefs that differ from the majority.

As of 2014, six structures make up the historic Divinity School at Harvard University. There is the Divinity Hall, which is the oldest structure dating back to 1826. Then, there is the Andover Hall, which dates back to 1911 and is far more ornate than the stark brick Divinity Hall. Rockefeller Hall is the newest of the three halls and frankly seems a bit out of place with its ostentatiously modern design. Finally, there is also the Center for the Study of World Religions, Carriage House for the study of women and religion and the Jewett House, which is home to the Dean of the school.