A Beer & Some Tobacco

Note the German stoneware ale bottle with pewter lid, redware brazier, glass with ale, white clay pipes, and pewter dish.

Still Life with Clay Pipes, by Pieter Claesz, 1636. Courtesy of  Rijksmuseum.

The 1655 Harvard College Rules state: "Neither Shall hee without sufficient reason such as the President or his Tutor shall approve of, eyther take Tobacco or bring or permit to be brought into his Chamber strong Beere, wine, or strong water, or any other inebriating Drinke to the end that all excesse and abuse thereof may bee prevented."

Despite Harvard college rules generally forbidding drinking and smoking, archaeological excavations uncovered numerous ceramic pipe stems, wine bottle fragments, and fragments of ceramic ale bottles. These artifacts were found in such large numbers between the Old College and Indian college that the site began to resemble a tavern rather than an educational institution. This surprised the students, and our view of early Puritan Harvard changed to match the artifacts discovered beneath our feet.

westerwald fragments  bellarmine jar piece
Blue and gray fragments of Westerwald mugs from Colonial Harvard Yard, PM992-9-10/94780

Brown “Bellarmine” bottle base from Colonial Harvard Yard. PM 987-22-10/100147


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