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Notes on The Life of Robert Robinson Taylor

(1) William B. Rogers to Henry D. Rogers, 16 Aug. 1863, Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, edited by his wife with the assistance of William T. Sedgwick (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1896), vol. 2, pp. 172-73.

(2) Because MIT records did not systematically identify students by race until the late 1960s, it is difficult to make any definitive claim about who the "first" black student was, or even to compile a comprehensive list of early black students. Robert Taylor's official MIT transcript identifies him as "colored," whereas other students roughly contemporary with Taylor--and known to be black--are not so identified. In order to identify black students from this early period, we have had to rely on scattered documentary evidence, especially photographs.

(3) Clarence G. Williams, "Professor Joseph Applegate: MIT's First Black Faculty Member," Tech Talk, 5 Feb. 1997, p. 3.

(4) Robert R. Taylor, "The Scientific Development of the Negro," in Technology and Industrial Efficiency: A Series of Papers Presented at the Congress of Technology, Opened in Boston, Mass., April 10, 1911, in Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Granting of a Charter to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1911), p. 169.

(5) The most thorough published account of Taylor's life and work is Ellen Weiss, "Robert R. Taylor of Tuskegee: An Early Black American Architect," ARRIS: Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians 2 (1991): 3-19. For an earlier version of this study, see "Robert R. Taylor of Tuskegee, an Early Professional Architect in Alabama," Preservation Report [Alabama Historical Commission] 16 (March/April 1989): 3-6. Additional biographical information may be found in "Real Builders of Tuskegee," Tuskegee Alumni Bulletin, vol. 2, Jan.-March 1915; Tuskegee Student, 20 April 1901; Florence Murray, Negro Handbook 1944 (New York: Current Reference Publications, 1944), p. 234; and Clement Richardson, National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (Montgomery, Ala.: National Publishing Company, 1919), vol. 1, p. 494. Also, Dreck Spurlock Wilson, "Twelve Selected Black Architects: An Historical Perspective," unpublished manuscript [copy in the MIT Museum]. Vinson McKenzie, architectural librarian at Tuskegee and later Auburn University, has uncovered information on the careers of many early black architects. For a summary of his work, see Nick Lackeos, "McKenzie's Work Filling a Void," Sunday Montgomery Advertiser, 9 Feb. 1992; L. D. Ashmore, "Lecture Highlights the Work of Black Architects," Sunday Montgomery Advertiser, 17 Oct. 1993. See also "Class Notes" [class of 1892], Technology Review 45 (Jan. 1943): VIII; and "Class Notes" [obituary notice of Robert Robinson Taylor, class of 1892], Technology Review 45 (March 1943): VI. None of these articles has much to say about Taylor's MIT career.

(6) F. W. Chandler, "M.I.T. Departments. IV. Architecture," The Tech, 20 March 1890, p. 163.

(7) AC 251, MIT Office of the Registrar, Student Academic Records, 1865- , reel 7, vol. 23, 1892, J-Z, Institute Archives and Special Collections [hereafter referred to as MIT Archives].

(8) The Tech, 11 Oct. 1888, p. 13.

(9) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Twenty-Fourth Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students, with a Statement of the Courses of Instruction, and a List of the Alumni, 1888-1889 (Boston: Thomas Todd, 1888), pp. 123. The title and publisher of these annual catalogues vary; hereafter cited as MIT Annual Catalogue, followed by date and page number. See also MIT Annual Catalogue, 1889-90, p. 131; 1890-91, p. 131; 1891-92, p. 137.

(10) The Tech, 20 Oct. 1887, p. 7.

(11) Claims that Taylor was class valedictorian appear unfounded. No such title appears in the records, and MIT has never publicly ranked students in this way. Ironically, a suggestion from the 1892 class committee that some form of valedictory address be included in the commencement exercises was shot down by the editors of The Tech: "The idea of a valedictory is entirely foreign to Tech., and is against the system of work here" (The Tech, 7 Jan. 1892, p. 118).

(12) One of the earliest announcements of the Loring bequest appeared in The Tech, 21 Nov. 1889, p. 57. See also under "Scholarship Trusts" in General Statement of the Receipts and Disbursements by the Treasurer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for the Year Ending September 30, 1890 (Boston: Alfred Mudge & Sons, 1890), p. 8.

(13) MIT Annual Catalogue, 1891-1892, pp. 127-29. See also AC 1, MIT Faculty Records, vol. 6, 18 Sept. 1891, p. 20, MIT Archives.

(14) The Tech, 10 March 1892, pp. 173, 176-77.

(15) Taylor's thesis title appears in the official catalogue and commencement program as "A Design for a Soldiers' Home." See MIT Annual Catalogue, 1892-93, p. 253. See also Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Class of 1892. Graduation Exercises, Tuesday, May Thirty-First, 2:30 P.M. (Boston: Rapid Printing Company, 1892). Taylor's thesis is preserved in the MIT Archives.

(16) The best study of Washington's life and career is Louis R. Harlan's two-volume biography: Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972); and Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983). See also Washington's personal memoir, Up From Slavery: An Autobiography (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1901). For the history and mission of Tuskegee, see James Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 1865-1935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988).

(17) "A Speech Delivered before the Women's New England Club," Boston, January 27, 1889 [1890], in Louis R. Harlan, ed., The Booker T. Washington Papers, vol. 3, 1889-95 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974), pp. 31-32. This collection, in thirteen volumes, is hereafter referred to as BTWP. Beginning with vol. 5, 1899-1900, Harlan was joined as editor by Raymond W. Smock.

(18) "A Speech at Old South Meeting House, Boston," BTWP, vol. 3 (1889-95), pp. 199-201.

(19) See Booker T. Washington to Warren Logan, 11 Dec. 1890, BTWP, vol. 3 (1889-95), pp. 113-14; Booker T. Washington to Ednah Dow Littlehale Cheney, 21 Dec. 1890, ibid., p. 116; Booker T. Washington to Warren Logan, 12 Nov. 1891, ibid., pp. 180-81; Booker T. Washington to Warren Logan, ibid., 26 Nov. 1891, p. 195.

(20) Mark R. Schneider, Boston Confronts Jim Crow, 1890-1920 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997); quoted in a book review by Michael Kenney, "A Look at History of Hub Race Relations," Boston Globe, 8 July 1897.

(21) Henry Lee Shattuck to Booker T. Washington, 12 Jan. 1906, Booker T. Washington Papers, Library of Congress [microfilm edition, reel 273].

(22) AC 1, MIT Faculty Records, vol. 6, 26 May 1992, p. 138, MIT Archives.

(23) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Class of 1892. Graduation Exercises, Tuesday, May Thirty-First, 2:30 P.M. (Boston: Rapid Printing Company, 1892), MIT Archives.

(24) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., p. 169.

(25) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., p. 169.

(26) Martia Graham Woodson, ed., Chronicles of Faith: The Autobiography of Frederick D. Patterson (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, Press, 1991), p. 29.

(27) Max Bennett Thrasher, Tuskegee: Its Story and Its Work (Boston: Small, Maynard & Co., 1900), pp. 40-41. See Chapter V of this work for an overview of Tuskegee architecture and Taylor's contribution to it.

(28) Max Bennett Thrasher, Tuskegee: Its Story and Its Work (Boston: Small, Maynard & Co., 1900), pp. 47-48.

(29) Booker T. Washington, Working with the Hands: Being a Sequel to "Up from Slavery" Covering the Author's Experiences in Industrial Training at Tuskegee (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1904), between pp. 194 & 195 [caption to photograph of Chapel].

(30) Warren Logan, "Resources and Material Equipment," in Booker T. Washington, ed., Tuskegee & its People: Their Ideals and Achievements (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1906), p. 42.

(31) Compiled from an unpublished, untitled list constructed by someone at Tuskegee probably around the time of Taylor's death, using Tuskegee Institute records and testimony from older, retired faculty members and at least one local businessman. A copy of this list is preserved in Taylor's biographical file, MIT Museum. See also the detailed discussion of Taylor's architectural canon in Ellen Weiss, "Robert R. Taylor of Tuskegee: An Early Black American Architect," ARRIS: Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians 2 (1991): 3-19.

(32) Emmett J. Scott, "Present Achievements and Governing Ideals," in Booker T. Washington, ed., Tuskegee & its People: Their Ideals and Achievements (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1906), pp. 25-26.

(33) Warren Logan, "Resources and Material Equipment," in Booker T. Washington, ed., Tuskegee & its People: Their Ideals and Achievements (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1906), p. 51.

(34) Lewis A. Smith, "A Dairyman's Story," in Booker T. Washington, ed., Tuskegee & its People: Their Ideals and Achievements (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1906), pp. 258-59.

(35) "Real Builders of Tuskegee," Tuskegee Alumni Bulletin 2 (Jan.-March 1915) no. 2.

(36) Martia Graham Woodson, ed., Chronicles of Faith: The Autobiography of Frederick D. Patterson (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, Press, 1991), p. 97.

(37) Booker T. Washington to John Henry Washington, 12 [15] May 1899, BTWP, vol. 5 (1899-1900), pp. 113-14.

(38) Warren Logan, "Resources and Material Equipment," in Booker T. Washington, ed., Tuskegee & its People: Their Ideals and Achievements (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1906), pp. 40-41.

(39) Booker T. Washington to William Eugene Hutt, 3 Feb. 1894, BTWP, vol. 3 (1889-95), pp. 389-90. Hutt did not attend MIT, and it is unclear what Washington meant by "about the same course of training."

(40) Quoted in L. D. Ashmore, "Lecture Highlights the Work of Black Architects," Sunday Montgomery Advertiser, 17 Oct. 1993.

(41) Booker T. Washington to Robert Lloyd Smith, 30 Dec. 1913, BTWP, vol. 12 (1912-14), p. 388.

(42) Warren Logan to Booker T. Washington, 7 June 1899, BTWP, vol. 5 (1899-1900), p. 129.

(43) Booker T. Washington to Robert Curtis Ogden, 28 May 1906, BTWP, vol. 9 (1906-08), pp. 13-14. George Foster Peabody, a wealthy white banker, was a benefactor of Tuskegee.

(44) Robert Curtis Ogden to Booker T. Washington, 31 May 1906, Booker T. Washington Papers, Library of Congress, box 602.

(45) Clement Richardson, National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (Montgomery, Ala.: National Publishing Company, 1919), vol. 1, p. 494.

(46) Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 184.

(47) Booker T. Washington to Robert R. Taylor, 30 March 1908, BTWP, vol. 9 (1906-08), p. 486.

(48) Booker T. Washington to Robert R. Taylor, 20 June 1913, BTWP, vol. 12 (1912-14), p. 203.

(49) Julius B. Ramsey, Charles H. Gibson, and Robert R. Taylor to Booker T. Washington, 15 May 1913, BTWP, vol. 12 (1912-14), p. 181.

(50) Booker T. Washington to Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, 21 Sept. 1894, BTWP, vol. 3 (1889-95), p. 469.

(51) See Booker T. Washington to Stella Houghton Scott Gilman, 15 May 1903, BTWP, vol. 7 (1903-04), pp. 145-46. Richards is referred to not by name, but as a female professor at MIT, in Gilman to Washington, 7 May 1903, Booker T. Washington Papers, Library of Congress, box 546.

(52) As quoted in "Negroes Make Riotous Scene," Boston Globe, 31 July 1903.

(53) Booker T. Washington to Oswald Garrison Villard, 16 Nov. 1904, BTWP, vol. 8 (1904-06), p. 132.

(54) Booker T. Washington to Henry Smith Pritchett, 21 March 1906, BTWP, vol. 8 (1904-06), pp. 553-54; Pritchett had just taken up a new post as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, after having served as MIT president from 1900-06. Also, Booker T. Washington to Mrs. William B. Rogers, 21 Oct. 1909; letter donated by Karl Landstrom, MIT Class of 1959, to the MIT Museum. For Austin's legacy, see footnote under Julius Daniel Dreher to Booker T. Washington, 16 Dec. 1898, BTWP, vol. 4 (1895-98), p. 533.

(55) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., p. v. For further information on this anniversary event, see "The Coming Congress of Technology," Technology Review 13 (March 1911): 147-50, 163; "Technology's Fiftieth Anniversary," Technology Review 13 (April 1911): 171-73; and "An Impressive Anniversary," Technology Review 13 (May 1911): 305-27.

(56) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., pp. 167-70.

(57) The Tech, 10 April 1911, pp. 14, 17.

(58) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., pp. 124-28. See also Technology Review 13 (April 1911): 230.

(59) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., pp. 167-68.

(60) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., pp. 168-69.

(61) Technology and Industrial Efficiency ..., pp. 169-70.

(62) "Class Notes" [class of 1892], Technology Review 45 (Jan. 1943): VIII.

(63) Nellie C. Taylor to Karl T. Compton, 21 Dec. 1942; copy in MIT Museum.

(64) Quoted in "Class Notes," Technology Review 45 (March 1943): VI.

(65) Quoted in "Class Notes," Technology Review 45 (March 1943): VI.

(66) G. Lake Imes, "Says Race Lost Great Figure in Taylor Death," Chicago Bee, 17 Jan. 1943; "Dr. Robert R. Taylor," Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Va.), 9 Jan. 1943. For other obituaries, see "Robert Robinson Taylor (1868-1942)," a Tuskegee news release dated Jan. 1942 [i.e. 1943]; and "Dr. R. R. Taylor Had Busy Life: Noted Negro Educator Died in Chapel He Designed" [source unknown]; copies in MIT Museum.

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