Harry Dana reading a book in the Study vault of the Longfellow House
Harry Dana, here in an on-site vault, organized the vast possessions and papers of his ancestors.

H.W.L. Dana Papers, Series IX. Collected Materials, Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters NHS

Quick Facts

Significance:
Preservationist, scholar, pacifist & labor activist
Place of Birth:
Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
January 26, 1881
Place of Death:
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Date of Death:
April 26, 1950
Place of Burial:
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cemetery Name:
Mount Auburn Cemetery

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana was known as “Harry” to his friends, and lived and worked in the the academic community around Harvard during the early 20th century. The man was a social force of nature, well-known in Cambridge, Boston, and beyond. Lauded for his understanding of Russian drama, his writings, and his lectures, Harry was a respected teacher, author and preservationist.

As the grandson of the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the author, Richard Henry Dana Jr., it seemed inevitable that Harry, too, would grow up to be an intelligent, thoughtful young man with literary inclinations. He loved to share these passions through teaching. As a gay man, he was an advocate for younger men as they navigated the social circles of elite Harvard and Cambridge. He fought unendingly for laborers and unions, traveled the world many times in his life, and saw the outbreak of World War I while in Germany. Later in life, after being dismissed from Columbia University for his pacifist views, he began to live and work in his grandfather's home.

Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site is preserved today thanks to his endless efforts to protect his family's legacy. He collected objects, photos, correspondence and countless other items to tell the comprehensive story of the two branches of his family -- the Longfellows and the Danas. By necessity, his story is often told through these collections, an archive of his own life, maintained and cultivated by him while he was still alive. Harry lives on in its stacks, its papers, in its rooms which echo the history of the home.

Last updated: March 9, 2018