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Harvard Secret Court Expelled Gay Students in 1920

The court files noted that one man questioned "admits he is probably a little tainted. Mind poisoned."

When the "trial" ended, the court handed down guilty verdicts for 14 men: seven college students; a dental school student; a teacher; a recent graduate; and four men not connected with Harvard.

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The college students were told to leave the campus -- and Cambridge -- immediately.

"Your son, Ernest, is still in Cambridge, in spite of our instruction," a court member wrote to former U.S. representative Ernest William Roberts (R-Mass.) on June 12. "Strongly urge that you send for him or come for him yourself at once. He has been ordered to leave Cambridge today. Consequences of disobedience of this order would be most serious."

Eugene R. Cummings, 23, never even learned his verdict. He committed suicide at Harvard's infirmary in June.

News of the two suicides appeared in the Boston American on June 19 with the headline "2 Harvard men die suddenly," referring to Cummings and Wilcox.

"Every effort has been made to prevent any knowledge of this affair from becoming public," one member of the court wrote to the father of one of the boys. In letters to parents of some of the students, Greenough made clear that their sons were asked to withdraw solely for their association with gays.

Summers, in his recent statement to the Crimson, called the episode "abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university."

"We are a better and more just community today because those attitudes have changed as much as they have," he said.


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