Our History

Founded on 14 April 1948, the Crimson Key Society was formed to provide the Harvard Athletic Association with an organization responsible for meeting incoming athletic teams and providing accommodations for their members.  Quickly expanding, CKS consisted of three subcommittees by 1952.  The Athletic Committee maintained its ties to Harvard Athletics.  The Orientation Committee offered campus tours to entering first-years and organized opening mixers; later in the year, they gave tours of the upperclassmen houses to first-years.  The Undergraduate Schools Committee, which was involved with Harvard Clubs nationwide, recruited prospective students and housed them during campus visits.  This committee also published Keystone, Key’s first paper, as well as the Extra-Curricular Activities Bulletin, containing dates and times of the programs of all undergraduate organizations, sports events of special interest to the college, and current movies.

Originally, CKS also sponsored All-College Weekend, a festival in early May that sought to bring the four classes of Harvard together in a unique extravaganza that included a regatta, a square dance, and a masquerade ball.  By 1955, however, this event was abandoned and campus tours became the focus of Key’s efforts.

Today’s Crimson Key Society differs from that of 60 years ago, but its mission has not changed.  Though CKS no longer recruits students, it still organizes Orientation for the first-years alongside the Dean of Students Office. And as for tours, the Crimson Key Society continues to lead historical tours of the Harvard University campus for both official University guests, through the Marshal’s Office, and general visitors to the University, through the Information Center. Throughout the year, CKS also offers special tours during reunions, helps the Dean of Students Office with First-Year and Junior Family Weekends, and assists the University in various capacities during both Commencement Week and the annual Arts First celebration.

Our Leaders

PresidentOliver Hirshland ’24
Vice PresidentAlyssa Wagner ’24
TreasurerRick Li ’25
Guidebook & Marketing ManagerJames Farr ’25
First-Year Orientation Coordinators Caroline Baynard ’25 & Proof Schubert Reed ’25
Tour/TEACH Coordinators Nico Vasquez ’25 & Sidonie Brown ’25
Community ChairOlivia Johnson ’25
HistorianMaddie Barkate ’24
SecretarySeattle Hickey ’25

CKS in the Press

The Harvard Crimson, 10/30/2018 — On Ghost Tour, Students Grapple with ‘Skeletons’ in Harvard’s Closet

The New York Times, 8/20/2010 — Attitude Adjustment – How Harvard Views ‘Love Story’

The Harvard Crimson, 9/01/2009 — Class of ’13 Vies to Show Talent

The Harvard Crimson, 3/10/2008 — Junior Parents Partake in Campus Fun

The Boston Globe, 3/09/2008 — Getting into Harvard