Town and Gown

Bartolus teaching students, image from 1523Univ of Cambridge Graduate ca. 1820
Academic dress has a long history. Traditional academic robes were originally derived from clerical robes and date back to the great medieval European universities.  United States colleges and universities often based their robes on those of Cambridge and Oxford.

Excerpt from 1807 Laws of Harvard College Class of 2016 take notice! 

There are accounts of Harvard students wearing robes on various occasions since the 18th century. The 1807 Laws of Harvard College recommended black gowns or soberly colored suits for Commencement, noting specifically that “no one shall wear any silk nightgown.” 


Graduation Harvard Style

Notice the “crow’s feet” on the lapels of many of the gowns pictured here. This design element is unique to Harvard and indicates degree and faculty. These images of Harvard Law graduates through the years demonstrate both the continuity of academic dress and the style and personality of our community members.  Click on each slide to explore.