Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country.Harvard was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard. Although it was never formally affiliated with a church, the college primarily trained Congregationalist and Unitarian clergy. Harvard's curriculum and students became increasingly secular throughout the eighteenth century and by the nineteenth century had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites.Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot's forty year tenure transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a centralized research university and Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war.