History with Chuck: Aubrey Howard Bowser, class of 1903 & first CHS student to attend Harvard

Aubrey Howard Bowser, a 1903 graduate of Cheltenham High School, was the first student in CHS history to attend Harvard University.

In 1902, Cheltenham High School officials asked John Wanamaker, a local wealthy industrialist with a large estate in the township, to make a substantial donation to the school. Wanamaker said he would give an all-expenses-paid four-year scholarship to Harvard if they could get a student accepted at Harvard.

The school chose Aubrey as the candidate. He took the entrance exams and passed with flying colors, subsequently graduating with honors from Harvard in 1907. From there Aubrey went on to an illustrious career as a writer, editor, and educator.

Aubrey, who grew up in the LaMott section of Cheltenham Township, was raised by his grandfather William Bowser, one of the earliest African-American landowners in LaMott.

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Photo and information courtesy of Chuck Langerman, local historian