[Ads-l] Joke about the accumulation of knowledge in universities

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 27 17:35:09 EDT 2018

Harry Lewis, Professor of Computer Science at Harvard asked me to
explore a quip often attributed to Abbott Lawrence Lowell who was the
President of Harvard from 1909 to 1933.

Fred's "Yale Book of Quotations" lists a 1949 attribution to Lowell
from "The Reader's Digest". That is the best evidence I saw in the
modern references.

The Quote Investigator website now has an entry with citations
starting in 1912 when George Edgar Vincent who was President of the
University of Minnesota used the joke in a speech.

Universities Are Full of Knowledge; the Freshmen Bring a Little In and
the Seniors Take None Away, Thus Knowledge Accumulates

Here are the details of the 1912 cite. Earlier evidence and other
interesting citations would be welcome.

[ref] 1912 February 9, The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, Vincent Captivates
Bemidji Audience: Minnesota University Head Holds Nearly 1000
Listeners Spellbound Throughout Lecture, Quote Page 1, Column
2,Bemidji, Minnesota. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
His humor was bright and everywhere evident. He said, that the reason
for there being so much knowledge at the great universities and
colleges of the country is that the Freshmen bring some knowledge with
them and the Seniors take none of it away.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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