HSSPA originates from the Society of Harvard Dames founded in 1896 by Anna P. Lowell “with the object of promoting acquaintance and social fellowship among its members”. The Society met on a weekly basis, and its activities included various lectures, talks and high-class conversations over a cup of tea. In 1930, when Anna died, her husband, Abbot Lawrence Lowell, the former President of Harvard University, established a fund in the memory of his wife.

Thanks to his contribution, the Society continued to meet, and after several reorganizations it became Harvard Students’ Spouses and Partners Association. For a very long time the membership was quite limited – only “the wives of Harvard students in any department of the University, and mothers who are temporarily residing in Cambridge while their sons are students at the University” were allowed to join.