MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections
The MIT Seal
"Who are those guys on the seal, and what are they doing?"
The laborer at the anvil and the scholar with a book on the seal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology embody the educational philosophy of William Barton Rogers and other incorporators of MIT as stated in their 1860 proposal Objects and Plan of an Institute of Technology: "...the interests of Commerce and the Arts, as well as of General Education, call for the most earnest co-operation of intelligent culture with industrial pursuits." The Latin motto Mens et Manus-- "mind and hand"--and the two volumes, Science and Art, on the pedestal also reflect the ideal of cooperation between knowledge and practical science. The year 1861 refers to the date (10 April 1861) the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was incorporated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Acts 1861, Chapter 183).
The official seal of MIT was adopted on 26 December 1864 by the Corporation in a design recommended by the Committee on the Seal, a committee established in 1863, with President William Barton Rogers and the Treasurer of the Institute as members. The Corporation minutes cover only the appointment of the committee and the approval of the seal; there are no records about the deliberations that led to the choice of a design, so we can only speculate. Interestingly, the title page of The Young Mechanic, printed in Boston in 1833, bears a design similar to the MIT seal. The seal was engraved in Philadelphia in November 1865 by A. Paquet at a cost of $285. Copies of the bill and receipt for the manufacture of the seal are in Rogers's papers (MC 1) in the Institute Archives.
A number of unofficial interpretations have emerged over the years, but there is only one official seal.