Clara Kim’s essay “Finding Veritas in Harvard’s Tourism” was written in the fall of 2015 for a WR 100 seminar focusing on tourism in New England. In the class, we examined what various forms of tourism in the region can tell us about American culture. This essay was submitted for the third assignment in the course, in which students were asked to independently visit and research a tourist site in New England and construct a persuasive analysis about that site.

This essay offers a critical examination of Harvard University as a tourist site. Through an analysis of Harvard’s website, tourism brochures, and the tour itself, Clara claims that Harvard offers tourists a solely celebratory narrative of its history and legacy, disavowing its complex and often unsettling involvement in the history of slavery and race relations. Clara presents her claim clearly and supports her ideas through a thorough analysis of these sources.

Clara’s essay is not only well structured and clearly articulated, but it also contributes to a larger scholarly conversation about the role of tourist sites that engage with public history—whose history is told at these sites, and whose is left out? How should the tourist industry make these decisions? Clara’s piece suggests that Harvard and other public history sites must strive to provide tourists with a comprehensive history that acknowledges the “dark” elements of a site’s past and present.

WR 100: Touring New England and the World