Guide to the Collection on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Women's Laboratory, 1867-1922
AC.0298

Summary Information

Repository
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
Creator
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Women's Laboratory
Title
Collection on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Women's Laboratory
ID
AC.0298
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1873-1883
Date [inclusive]
1867-1922
Extent
0.3 cubic feet (1 manuscript box)
Language
English
Abstract
Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman awarded a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with the generous cooperation of the Women's Education Association of Boston which purchased microscopes and other apparatus, worked to establish a laboratory for women to study chemical analysis, mineralogy, and chemistry in space provided by MIT. According to the October 1876 announcement, "The courses are intended for such as may be able to devote their whole time to the work, as well as those who, by reason of other engagements, can spend only a few hours a week in the laboratories." Fees for an eight-month term were $200 for attendance six days per week, $80 for two days per week, and $45 for one day per week. The Women's Laboratory formally opened in November 1876 with Professor John M. Ordway in charge, assisted by Ellen Richards. The laboratory began with 23 students, many of whom were public school teachers. During its seven years of operation the laboratory served more than 500 women students. The Women's Laboratory closed in 1883 when MIT opened a building containing new laboratory space and all chemistry instruction was integrated into the regular curriculum. The collection consists of correspondence, reports, and writings concerning the formation, funding, and operation of the Women's Laboratory; annual and summary reports; and reports of accomplishments and activities of graduates. The principal correspondent is Ellen Swallow Richards; other correspondents include Francis Amasa Walker, president of MIT, and Susan Minns, class of 1881.

Citation

Collection on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Women's Laboratory, AC 298. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Return to Table of Contents »


Historical note

Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman awarded a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with the generous cooperation of the Women's Education Association of Boston which purchased microscopes and other apparatus, worked to establish a laboratory for women to study chemical analysis, mineralogy, and chemistry in space provided by MIT. According to the October 1876 announcement, "The courses are intended for such as may be able to devote their whole time to the work, as well as those who, by reason of other engagements, can spend only a few hours a week in the laboratories." Fees for an eight-month term were $200 for attendance six days per week, $80 for two days per week, and $45 for one day per week. The Women's Laboratory formally opened in November 1876 with Professor John M. Ordway in charge, assisted by Ellen Richards. The laboratory began with 23 students, many of whom were public school teachers. During its seven years of operation the laboratory served more than 500 women students. The Women's Laboratory closed in 1883 after the MIT Corporation voted "that in view of the facilities afforded by the new chemical laboratories, and in pursuance of the wishes of the benefactors of the Woman's Laboratory, the present so-called Woman's Laboratory will be discontinued and students will be admitted to the Kidder Laboratories without distinction of sex." Ellen Richards received thanks from the Corporation for her service in November 1883. Later the next year, in April 1884, she was formally appointed assistant under Professor Nichols to give instruction in a course of sanitary chemistry. Her salary of $600 per annum was raised in May 1884 to $1,000 per annum, for a year's trial of the course, a course she continued to teach at the Institute for many years.

Return to Table of Contents »


Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections

MIT Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139-4307
617.253.5690
mithistory@mit.edu

Revision Description

  2011

Access note

The collection is open for research.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Institute Archives and Special Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives.

Return to Table of Contents »


Related Materials

Related Materials in the Institute Archives and Special Collections

Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT, by Julius A. Stratton and Loretta H. Mannix. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005.

Francis Amasa Walker Papers (MC 298)

Collection on Ellen Swallow Richards (MC 659)

Online exhibit about Ellen Swallow Richards

Return to Table of Contents »


Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Women's Laboratory
  • Women's Educational Association of Boston

Personal Name(s)

  • Richards, Ellen H. (Ellen Henrietta), 1842-1911

Subject(s)

  • Chemistry--Study and teaching.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology--History.
  • Women scientists.
  • Women--Education (Higher)--History.

Return to Table of Contents »


Collection Inventory

Folder

General summary of Women's Laboratory 1867-1879 

1

Return to Table of Contents »


"Money spent on little laboratory," report 1873 October 

2

Return to Table of Contents »


"Paper read by E. H. Richards before the Women's Educational Association," winter 1875-1876 

3

Return to Table of Contents »


Subscription lists 1875-1883 

4

Return to Table of Contents »


Announcement of opening of Women's Laboratory 1876 October 5 

5

Return to Table of Contents »


Women's Educational Association: Report of Laboratory Committee 1876 

6

Return to Table of Contents »


Committee in behalf of the Women's Educational Association to the Government of MIT circa 1876 

7

Return to Table of Contents »


Accounts 1876-1883 

8

Return to Table of Contents »


First Annual Report to the Women's Educational Association circa 1877 

9

Return to Table of Contents »


Report of Mrs. Richards to the Women's Educational Association 1881-1882 

10

Return to Table of Contents »


Report for the April 1882 Meeting of the Women's Educational Association 

11

Return to Table of Contents »


Six-year summary of the Women's Laboratory 1882 

12

Return to Table of Contents »


Report on Women's Laboratory graduates circa 1883 

13

Return to Table of Contents »


Accomplishments of MIT Women undated 

14

Return to Table of Contents »


Account of the planning of the Women's Laboratory by Ellen Swallow Richards undated 

15

Return to Table of Contents »


Description of Women's Laboratory, Ellen Swallow Richards undated 

16

Return to Table of Contents »


"Preliminary draft for Mrs. Richard's Criticism" undated 

17

Return to Table of Contents »


Unidentified manuscript concerning chemistry education at MIT 

18

Return to Table of Contents »


Unidentified manuscript concerning Women's Educational Association 

19

Return to Table of Contents »


Three unidentified manuscripts concerning Women's Laboratory 

20-22

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Mrs. G. Howland Shaw to Miss May undated 

23

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Mrs. William B. Weeden to Ellen Swallow Richards 1876 May 19 

24

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: E. Frankland to Ellen Swallow Richards 1877 November 9 

25

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Mrs. Charles J. Paine to Ellen Swallow Richards 1882 June 6 

26

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: William Endicott, Jr., to Miss Waler 1883 January 25 

27

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Francis Amasa Walker to Ellen Swallow Richards 1883 November 7 

28

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Ellen Swallow Richards to Francis Amasa Walker 1883 November 8 

29

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Ellen Swallow Richards to Mrs. Martin 1894 

30

Return to Table of Contents »


Correspondence: Susan Minns to Mrs. Sawyer 1922 February 9 

31

Return to Table of Contents »


Report from Ellen Swallow Richards to Edward Atkinson of the history of the Women's Laboratory undated 

32

Return to Table of Contents »