To the Nines

HMS Class Day through the decades in years ending in ‘9’

Historic Harvard archive photos highlight solemn and joyous graduation milestones and moments at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Image prep by Maya Rucinski-Szwec

In 1869, Edwin C. J. T. Howard and Thomas Graham Dorsey are the first black graduates of HMS. Robert Tanner Freeman (pictured) is the first black graduate of Harvard Dental School.
A photo and schematic show the Class of 1909 as freshmen outside the 688 Boylston Street building, one of the School's early locations.
In 1949, these 12 women became the first to graduate from HMS, having faced several challenges, including a lack of ladies’ rooms on campus and the need to live in boarding houses instead of in Vanderbilt Hall.
“With a parting salute, he drove the beribboned car to the edge of the quadrangle, only to have it promptly tagged for illegal parking.” — Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin, July 1959
In 1969, the month before graduation was overshadowed by the Harvard Strike. One of the students’ demands was “No destruction of black workers’ homes around the Medical School.”
Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, MD 1979, performed two original songs on Class Day: “Golden Morning” and “Hospital Blues.”
Graduates in 1989 wore white armbands to mourn the death of those involved in the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing. Pictured from left: HSDM grads Justin Bass, Jean Bruch, Richard Chang and Devin Choi.
In 1999, more women than men graduated from HMS for the first time, and nearly 20% of the class was from groups underrepresented in medicine.