First page of The Tech,
December 20, 1901.
December 20, 1901
On November 16, 1881, The Tech, MIT's student-run newspaper, started as a fortnightly magazine. The first 12-page illustrated issue rolled off the presses after a month of careful planning, writing, drawing, and editing by the enterprising and energetic student staff, which aimed "to promote the interests of the students at the Institute and to maintain a friendly spirit among them, breaking down the ancient barriers of class and department." The students worked diligently to keep the new paper going, remembering that a previous student newspaper, The Spectrum, had collapsed in May 1874 after only 15 months of publication.
In its very early days The Tech consisted primarily of poems, stories, and other literary material submitted by undergraduates. By the 1890s the focus had shifted to reporting news about lectures, plays, meetings, and sports at "Boston Tech" (as MIT was informally known in the years before it moved from Boston's Back Bay to its present location in Cambridge). In those years the paper served to create some sense of cohesion and community among undergraduates, who commuted to school or lived in rooming houses. (There was no campus housing until the first dormitory was constructed in Cambridge in 1917.) Notices about class events and Institute-wide activities appeared regularly in the paper, which was also a forum for the discussion of issues and the airing of opinions. The Tech strongly advocated increased student government and was influential in bringing about other improvements in the quality of student life. It urged, for example, the creation of an MIT yearbook, leading to the birth of Technique in 1885.
The December 20, 1901, issue of The Tech has a holiday theme. It urges students who are still in the area on New Year's Eve to convene at the Boston Music Hall for a concert and to stay afterwards "to cheer the old year out." Those returning home instead for a "luxurious" eight-day recess are cheered on their way by a poem, reading in part:
December snow has come again,
With white the worlde is cladde,
And once again with Yule Tide Cheer
All hearts are now made gladde...
Advertisements offer a "combination breakfast plan," "shoes for college men," and "toboggan mufflers." The editors regret that "Mr. Farmer has resigned from the Tech board, owing to pressure of work." Mr. Farmer was Walter H. Farmer, a junior majoring in civil engineering, who apparently had to scale down his extracurricular activities to concentrate on his studies. As The Tech from 1901 illustrates, some aspects of the undergraduate experience at MIT have changed, while others remain the same.
The Tech still publishes on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the academic year, on Wednesdays during IAP (Independent Activities Period), and once a month in the summer. Issues of The Tech are available on line and, with other historical resources, are available for use at the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.
Object of the Month:December 2009, December 2001