Harvard Connecting to its Indian Soul

October 21, 2007

Author: Colin Nickerson

Source: The Boston Globe


CAMBRIDGE - Serious pay dirt came at 23 inches when a trio of sweaty undergrads working one of 15 deepening holes in Harvard Yard last week unearthed two tiny pieces of printing press type, pegged at nearly 3 1/2 centuries old.

"One minute you're just digging so carefully, centimeter by centimeter," said Devon Sherman, a sophomore from Duxbury who made the find with seniors Brennan Bilberry of South Dakota and Alyssa Wolff of New York. "The next minute you're holding real history in your hand."

It wasn't the antiquity of the lead type that triggered hurrahs, but the connection to the history of Harvard and native Americans. The rectangular bits, according to archeologists supervising the excavation, will probably prove to be from the press that produced the first Bible printed in North America, a 1661 edition of scriptures written in the Wampanoag dialect of the Algonquin language.