MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections

An MIT Chronology

1840 | 1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1890 | 1900 | 1910 | 1920

1930 | 1940 | 1950 | 1960 | 1970 | 1980 | 1990 | 2000

1846
March 13
William Barton Rogers drafts a plan for a scientific school, "Plan for a Polytechnic School in Boston."
Page 1 of letter

Letter from Rogers to his brother Henry in which he outlines his plan.

1849

William Barton Rogers marries Emma Savage

Source

 

1853

William and Emma Rogers move to Boston
Source

1859

Unsuccessful petition by a group of Boston institutions for some of the newly filled Back Bay lands: Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts, in relation to a Conservatory of Art and Science, March 9, 1859, House no. 260. Although William Rogers was listed as one of the petitioners, he "took but little part..."

Source
1860
Objects and Plan of an Institute of Technology prepared by William Barton Rogers

The widely disseminated pamphlet is the basis of a petition to the Massachusetts legislature proposing a three-part Institute including a Society of Arts, a Museum of Arts, and a School of Industrial Science.

Source

Cover of Objects and Plan
1861
April 10
MIT is incorporated.
MIT's charter

MIT's charter: An Act to Incorporate the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... (Chapter 183, Acts of 1861)

Source

1862-1870
William Barton Rogers is president of MIT.

SourceWilliam Barton Rogers, 1869

1863
Construction of the Institute's first Back Bay building begins.
Source
1864

Scope and Plan of the School of Industrial Science reports on curriculum and organization.

Source

Cover of Scope and Plan
The Corporation approves the official seal of the Institute.
Source
MIT Seal
1865
First MIT classes are held in Boston. Source
MIT architecture faculty member William Ware distributes An Outline of the Course of Instruction in Building and Architecture proposed for the School of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Source
1866
First MIT building in Back Bay is completed and occupied.

Later named the Rogers Building, in honor of William Barton Rogers.

Source

1868
Nation's first architecture classes offered at MIT.

Bill of sale for items purchased in London in 1866 by William Ware for the classes.

Source

Ware's bill of sale
First graduating class. Source
MIT chemistry faculty members Charles Eliot and Frank Storer compile and publish Manual of Inorganic Chemistry. Source
1869
Professor Edward C. Pickering develops physics teaching laboratory.

The first laboratory, the Rogers Laboratory, named after William Barton Rogers.

Source

1870-1878
John Daniel Runkle is president of MIT.
Source
1870

First attempted takeover of MIT by Harvard University is foiled.  (Other attempts follow.)

1873

Ellen Swallow the first female graduate of MIT.

Source

Ellen Swallow (Richards)
First student publication, The Spectrum. Source
1874
First formal graduation exercises held. Source
1875

Robert H. Richards, '68, founds Alumni Association and is elected first president.

Source

Robert H. Richards
1876

Cardinal red and silver gray chosen as MIT colors.
Source

 
 
1879-1881
William Barton Rogers president of MIT (second term).
Source
1881-1897
Francis Amasa Walker president of MIT.

Source

1882
Sigma Chi, first social fraternity at Institute, established. Source

MIT establishes, within the Department of Physics, the nation's first curriculum in electrical engineering. Source

1883
October 22
First meeting of the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation.
Source
1885
First student yearbook, Technique, published by Class of 1889.
Source
1886
First advanced degree awarded, a Master of Science in chemistry. Source
1889
MIT establishes the nation's first curriculum in sanitary engineering. Source
1892

Robert R. Taylor becomes the first black student to graduate from MIT.

Source

Robert R. Taylor
1897-1900
James Mason Crafts president of MIT.
Source
1899

First Tech Show.

Source

Cover of score for 8th annual Tech Show
Alumni Association launches publication of Technology Review. Source  
1900-1907
Henry Smith Pritchett president of MIT.
Source
1901
First Technology Field Day held.
Source
1902
Department of Electrical Engineering founded. Source  

Office of the Dean was created by a vote of the MIT Faculty.  The dean reported directly to the MIT President and was responsible for discipline and the general welfare of students. (Alfred E. Burton was the first dean.) Source

1907-1909
Arthur A. Noyes, acting president of MIT.
Source
1907
First doctoral degree awarded (in chemistry). Source  
1909-1920
Richard Cockburn Maclaurin president of MIT.
Source
1913
Construction begins on Cambridge campus.
Source
1914

Beaver becomes official MIT mascot.

Source

Beaver from cover of
Davis R. Dewey organizes course in engineering administration at MIT.
Source
 
The first formal course in aeronautical engineering in the U.S. is established at MIT within the Department of Naval Architecture. Source
1916
June
Three-day celebration of move from Boston to Cambridge.

Souvenir Program, Dedication Reunion, June 12, 13, 14, 1916

Source

Dedication program cover
1916
First dorm at MIT opened (now known as Senior House).
Source
1920-1921
Elihu Thomson acting president of MIT. Source  
1921-1922
Ernest Fox Nichols president of MIT. Source
1921-1923
Elihu Thomson acting president of MIT. Source
1923
Class of '23 introduces caps and gowns at commencement.
Source
 
1923-1930
Samuel Wesley Stratton president of MIT.
Source
1924
Edwin H. Blashfield, '69, begins murals in Walker Memorial.

Source

 

Walker Memorial interior; one of the
Blashfield murals on end wall.

1928
Nation's first curriculum in meteorology is established. Source  
1929
Committee selects Standard Technology Ring featuring beaver ("Brass Rat"). Source
1930-1948
Karl Taylor Compton president of MIT.

Source

Karl Taylor Compton

1930s

Harold Edgerton perfects the stroboscope and uses it in a wide variety of applications, including high-speed photography, multi-flash motion studies, and high-speed movies to study events that occur too quickly to be seen by the unaided eye.

high-speed photo of baseball bat swing
1930 John C. Slater bolsters physics research program.
Source
1931

MIT establishes the Alfred P. Sloan Fellows Program, the first program in the U.S. to provide mid-career managers with the opportunity to gain advanced academic and professional expertise in management. Source

1932 The MIT Corporation adopts a new plan of administration, creating three schools (Engineering, Science, and Architecture) and two divisions, including the Division of Humanities. Source

George Eastman Research Laboratory for physics is built. Source

1938 The new Rogers Building at 77 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge is completed and occupied.
Source
1940-1945
MIT's Radiation Laboratory (known as the Rad Lab). Source
1941
MIT's doctoral program in economics established.
Source
 
1943

Construction of Building 20 starts to provide one of several facilities for the radar research conducted under the name “Radiation Laboratory.”  Although it was supposed to be torn down after World War II, the building continued to house a wide variety of labs, departments, and activities until 1998, when it was demolished to make room for the Ray and Maria Stata Center.

Source
1943-1944 MIT hosts Navy V-12 program and ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) to provide technical training for U.S. military officers during World War II. Source
1948-1959
James Rhyne Killian president of MIT.
Source
1949

MIT holds Mid-Century Convocation "to appraise the state of the post-war world, to consider the progress of scientific enterprise, and to ponder the future role of MIT as an institution of scientific and engineering education."

Source

1949
December
Committee on Educational Survey publishes report ("The Lewis Report"). Source
1950
Alfred P. Sloan ('95) Foundation provides grants to launch School of Industrial Management.
Source
School of Management is established. Source
School of Humanities and Social Sciences established. Source  
1951
Lincoln Lab opened as a technical and scientific research center on electronic systems. Source
Course in nuclear engineering organized. Source  
Center for International Studies established.
Source
1956
MIT program for senior executives established.
Source
 
1959
Oliver Smoot, '62, used to measure Harvard Bridge. Source  
1959-1966
Julius Adams Stratton president of MIT.

Source

1961
April 7-9

MIT Centennial Celebration

Cover of program
1961
MIT establishes a doctoral program in linguistics. Source
1963 Stanley R. McCormick Hall (W51), the first women's dormitory on the Cambridge campus, dedicated (gift of Katharine Dexter McCormick, '04).
Source

Project MAC, the original name of the Laboratory for Computer Science, starts operations, concentrating on the development of time-sharing computers.

Source

1964

I.M. Pei's Green Building (Building 54, the tallest building at MIT) is completed and named for benefactors Cecil and Ida Green.  It provides space for the Center for Earth Sciences.

Source
1966-1971
Howard Wesley Johnson president of MIT.
Source
1968
MIT and Wellesley agree to cross registration of their students. Source
1969
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) established.
Source
1970

Department of Mechanical Engineering's course 2.70, Introduction to Design (now 2.007, Design and Manufacturing I), initiates design contest.

Source

Artificial Intelligence breaks away from Project MAC. Source

Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology is established. Source
1971
Independent Activities Period (IAP) initiated.
Source
 
1971-1980
Jerome Bert Wiesner president of MIT.

Source

1972
Carola B. Eisenberg named first woman dean (of students). Source  
1973

Shirley Ann Jackson is the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT.

1975

Project MAC changes its name to the Laboratory for Computer Science to reflect an expansion of the scope of its activities and interests.

Source
1976

Department of Linguistics and Philosophy is created.  Philosophy had previously been taught in the Department of Humanities, and Linguistics had previously been taught in the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics.

Source

1977

Whitaker College of Health Sciences, Technology, and Management established.

Source
1979

Sheila E. Widnall, '60, becomes first woman elected chair of MIT faculty.

1980-1990
Paul Edward Gray president of MIT.
Source
1983

MIT launches Project Athena, a major educational experiment to explore the use of computers in the educational process.

Source

1984
Economist Anne E. Friedlaender, Ph.D. '64, appointed Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the first woman academic dean. Source
MIT establishes the Media Laboratory. Source  
1988
MIT plays first varsity football game in 88 years.
Source
1990-2004
Charles Marstiller Vest president of MIT.
Source
1992
MIT Faculty approves the five-year M.Eng. program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Source
1997
BankBoston releases "MIT: The Impact of Innovation," demonstrating the economic impact of MIT education and research. Source
1998 September
The Task Force on Student Life and Learning report issued. Source
1999
"A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT" completed. Source
2001
OpenCourseWare announced.

OpenCourseWare logo

Source

2002 DSpace Launched. Source Dspace logo
2004
August 26

 

Susan Hockfield elected 16th president by the Corporation.

Source

2005
June 8
President Hockfield and Provost Robert A. Brown announce the establishment of an Energy Research Council to spearhead efforts to address the world's mounting energy problems.
2006
May 3

Energy Research Council releases its report.

Source

2006
October

Report of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons to the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Source

Cover of report

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