Is Roxbury Latin or Boston Latin the older school?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

The Oldest Schools in Boston

Boston is a city steeped in history, and that history extends to its educational institutions. Two of the most well-known and prestigious schools in the city – Roxbury Latin and Boston Latin – have a history that dates back centuries. However, there is some controversy over which school can claim the title of the oldest in Boston. In this article, we will explore the histories of both schools and examine the evidence behind their claims to the title of Boston’s oldest school.

Brief History of Roxbury Latin

Roxbury Latin School was founded in 1645 by Reverend John Eliot, a Puritan minister who believed in the importance of education. The school was originally located in Roxbury, which was a separate town at the time, but is now a neighborhood of Boston. Throughout its history, Roxbury Latin has been known for its rigorous academic program and emphasis on character development. The school has produced many notable alumni, including several Pulitzer Prize winners, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, and a Nobel laureate.

Brief History of Boston Latin

Boston Latin School was also founded in the mid-17th century, in 1635. It was established by the Puritan colonists who had recently arrived in Boston, with the goal of providing an education to the young men of the community. Like Roxbury Latin, Boston Latin has a long and distinguished history, and has produced many accomplished alumni. Some of the school’s most famous graduates include Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.

Founding Dates of the Two Schools

As mentioned, there is some debate over which of the two schools is the older. According to the official records of the schools, Boston Latin was founded in 1635, while Roxbury Latin was founded in 1645. Based solely on these dates, Boston Latin would appear to be the older school.

Controversy over Founding Dates

However, there is some controversy over whether these dates are accurate. Some historians argue that the true founding date of Roxbury Latin is earlier than 1645, and that the school was actually established in 1640. This would put Roxbury Latin’s founding date earlier than Boston Latin’s.

Evidence Supporting Roxbury Latin’s Claim

One of the main pieces of evidence supporting Roxbury Latin’s claim is a letter from John Eliot, the school’s founder, that was written in 1677. In the letter, Eliot refers to the school as having been "lately begun," which some historians interpret as referring to a date earlier than 1645. Additionally, there are records of students attending Roxbury Latin in the early 1640s, which would suggest that the school was already established by that time.

Evidence Supporting Boston Latin’s Claim

On the other hand, supporters of Boston Latin’s claim point out that there are no records or other evidence to suggest that the school was founded before 1635. Additionally, the school’s official records clearly state that 1635 was the year of its founding.

Timeline of Key Events for Both Schools

Regardless of which school is older, both Roxbury Latin and Boston Latin have long and fascinating histories. Here are some key events from the histories of both schools:

  • 1645 – Roxbury Latin School is founded
  • 1635 – Boston Latin School is founded
  • 1754 – Roxbury Latin moves to its current location in West Roxbury
  • 1776 – Boston Latin temporarily closes due to the Revolutionary War
  • 1877 – Roxbury Latin becomes an independent school
  • 1878 – Boston Latin moves to its current location on Avenue Louis Pasteur
  • 1972 – Roxbury Latin begins admitting female students
  • 1977 – Boston Latin School becomes coeducational

Notable Alumni from Roxbury Latin

Roxbury Latin School has produced many accomplished alumni over the years, including:

  • Robert Lowell, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
  • Endicott Peabody, former governor of Massachusetts
  • Francis Parkman, historian and author
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice
  • Sheldon Glueck, criminologist

Notable Alumni from Boston Latin

Boston Latin School has an equally impressive list of alumni, including:

  • Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father
  • John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • Samuel Adams, Founding Father
  • Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor
  • Louis Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court justice

Conclusion: Which School is Older?

In the end, the question of which school is older may never be definitively answered. While Boston Latin’s official founding date is earlier, there is evidence to suggest that Roxbury Latin may have been established earlier. Regardless, both schools have a rich history and have played an important role in the education of generations of Bostonians.

Importance of Both Schools’ Histories in Boston

The histories of Roxbury Latin and Boston Latin are an important part of the fabric of Boston. They are a testament to the city’s commitment to education and to the important role that education has played in its development. The schools have produced many accomplished alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions in a variety of fields. In addition, they continue to provide a first-class education to students today, ensuring that the legacy of these historic institutions will continue for generations to come.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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