History & Tradition

BB&N - A Brief History

Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, a coeducational day school in Cambridge, was established in 1974, though its origins date back nearly a century earlier.

BB&N came into existence through the merger of two schools in Cambridge—the Browne & Nichols School, a school for boys founded in 1883 by one-time Harvard classmates George H. Browne and Edgar H. Nichols; and the Buckingham School, established six years later at the corner of Buckingham Street and Buckingham Place by Jeannette Markham, a transplanted Kansan who had come to Cambridge to study at what would later become known as Radcliffe College. Buckingham School (originally Miss Markham’s School) was coeducational at the youngest grades, and for girls only at the higher grades.

The two schools operated independently for decades, but were collaborating on theater productions and music concerts by the 1950s, and started offering joint classes in 1970. The formal merger that created Buckingham Browne & Nichols became effective on New Year’s Day, 1974.

BB&N today offers a premier educational experience to students in grades Beginner (pre-K) though 12 on three campuses united in the singular pursuit of educational excellence.

Click here to access the BB&N Archives website.

School Traditions

A variety of school traditions mark the BB&N calendar—some old, some new, some celebrated by one school or another, and some celebrated by the entire school community.


All-School Traditions

  • Circus - Games, rides, entertainment, crafts—just about everything you'd expect of a circus, minus the lions. This nearly 70-year-old annual event, held at the Lower School, raises money for financial aid.
  • Head of the Charles - Join the festivities at BB&N's Eliot Bridge boathouse, an enviable venue from which to watch—or compete in—the world's largest rowing regatta, held each October on the Charles River.

Lower School Traditions

  • Maypole - A fixture on the spring calendar dating back to Buckingham School days.
  • Soul Cake - 5th graders don Colonial-era togs and perform music of the period at this event held around (and influenced by) Halloween.
  • Faculty vs. Students Kickball game - Kids and teachers put their best feet forward in this much-anticipated and fiercely contested event, a late-spring rite of passage for Lower Schoolers.

Middle School Traditions

  • Giving Thanks Day - Middle Schoolers give thanks the day before Thanksgiving via a wide range of community service projects on campus and in the region.

Upper School Traditions

  • Bivouac - Outdoor education and team-building in the shadow of Mt. Monadnock. Bivouac, at the start of 9th grade, peels back the veneer students bring to school while teaching skills vital for success, like how to cope with the unexpected and the importance of mutual support among classmates.
  • Senior Skits - The gloves come off as seniors "roast" faculty members, and are themselves "roasted" right back at this playful, artful, and irreverent end-of-year event.
  • Homecoming - Football and other fall sports, school spirit, and other autumnal pageantry...
  • Junior Profile - Juniors write in-depth profiles of some person-rich or poor, famous or not-who intrigues them, diving beneath surface and stereotype to reveal depth of character.
  • Senior Project - Seniors plan and carry out an independent project-linked to academic goals, community service, career aspirations, or other interests-during their final two months of school.

Just for Alumni/ae

  • Strawberry Night - It's party time for grads young and old during Alumni/ae reunion weekend, in May (when the berries are ripe).