Great pomp and circumstance attended MIT’s Centennial celebration in 1961. A week-long academic festival, April 2-9, commemorated the granting of the Institute’s charter on April 10, 1861, by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The highlights of Centennial Week included a closed conference on scientific and engineering education, attended by about 100 international scholars, and two days of panel discussions open to alumni and other visitors. The subjects of the panel discussions ranged from How Has Science in the Last Century Changed Man’s View of Himself? to Arms Control to Future of the Arts in a World of Science. The public events, from the 7th through the 9th, were filled with music, exhibits, and ceremony. A birthday banquet was held at the Statler Hotel in Boston on the evening of April 8. The week culminated in a formal academic procession and Centennial convocation on April 9 at which MIT President Julius Stratton delivered the final Centennial Week address. The festivities were capped by a performance of Haydn’s The Creation by the MIT Choral Society, conducted by Klaus Liepmann.
Among the distinguished participants in the celebration were Prime Minister Harold Macmillan of Great Britain, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, author Aldous Huxley, and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Congratulatory messages were received from academic and scientific institutions from around the globe, some of which are displayed here. The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald published special supplements on MIT’s Centennial, and WGBH broadcast most of the assemblies and addresses live.
Centennial activities for students continued throughout the month of April, and included such events as the judging of the best student beards, a train trip to Old Sturbridge Village, and the Student Centennial Ball.
Additional information about the Centennial events may be found in the MIT Centennial Week records, 1949-1961 (AC 174), the records of the Office of the President (AC 4 & AC 134), and the papers of Walter Rosenblith (MC 55), as well as The Tech, Tech Talk, and Technology Review--all available for use in the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, 14N-118.