Archives + MIT History

Guardians of the MIT Community

Posted April 16th, 2014 by Nora Murphy
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Barbara Haven, Raymond Roberts, and Robert Molino

Security on MIT’s campus has evolved since the 1950s when night watchmen, serving primarily as fire watch, patrolled the campus. The responsibilities, duties, and reporting structure of the police have changed with the times and the needs of the community. Crimes on campus previously handled by Cambridge police were taken on by MIT’s force in 1959. Over the last two decades the MIT Police have worked with students and staff more collaboratively on safety issues. Read more about the history of the MIT Police on the Institute Archives and Special Collections web site.

“Be Thou the Advocate…”

Posted April 10th, 2014 by Nora Murphy

Happy Charter Day, MIT!

Letter from Governor Andrew to William Barton Rogers, 9 March 1861

On this day, 153 years ago, the Massachusetts legislature passed, and Governor John Andrew approved, legislation that established MIT.

On March 9, 1861, Governor Andrew had written to William Barton Rogers that a meeting had been scheduled with the State Board of Education to afford an opportunity for proponents of the plan to explain its advantages for education and industry. The letter reproduced here expresses the governor’s confidence in Rogers’s dynamic personality and powers of persuasion.

Rogers had worked long and hard to establish a polytechnic school in Boston, spending years sharing his vision and soliciting support. Two days later the U.S. Civil War began when Confederate soldiers fired upon Fort Sumter. MIT’s first classes were not held until 1865, shortly before the end of the war.

More information about the establishment of MIT is available on the  Institute Archives and Special Collections web site. MIT’s original charter is housed at the Massachusetts Archives among the acts and resolves of the Commonwealth.

Help identify MIT Banjo Club of ca.1893

Posted April 10th, 2014 by Christie Moore

Is one of these players your ancestor? Help identify members of MIT’s Banjo Club of ca.1893, the picture hanging outside the Lewis Music Library!

BanjoClub_1893webFrom yearbooks in the Institute Archives and Special Collections, we have made some tentative IDs. Left to right, standing: Nathan Cheney ’94; possibly Floyd Frazier ’96; Winthrop Tracy Case ’94; possibly Edwin Francis Hicks ’94; possibly F.S.V. Sias ’95. Sitting: possibly Lucius Spaulding Tyler ’96; Albert William Thompson ’95 or ’96; George Frederic Shepard, Jr., ’95.

Post a comment on the Lewis Music Library Facebook page if you can help!

 

The origins of MIT’s Specifications for Thesis Preparation

Posted April 3rd, 2014 by Nora Murphy

Faculty Minutes, 23 May 1868As the deadline for submitting theses for the 2014 June degree period approaches, students may be wondering how the specifications originated. 

In May of 1868 the MIT faculty voted to approve the first specifications for theses, requiring only that a thesis be written “on paper of ordinary letter size (about 8 x 10 in.), on one side of the paper only, and with a margin of one inch on the left.” In 1872 additional specifications were added: the paper was to be of good quality, “with drawings on double elephant paper 40 x 27, or single elephant 20 x 27.” Early theses were handwritten, with hand drawings of illustrations, until about 1914 when typewriters began to be used with regularity.

For more information about early theses, and the development of thesis specifications, contact the Institute Archives and Special Collections. Current thesis specifications are prescribed by the Committee on Graduate Programs and the Committee on Undergraduate Programs and are published by the MIT Libraries.

Preservation Week, April 29–May 1: Explore the art and science of preserving cultural heritage

Posted March 27th, 2014 by Heather Denny

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Join us for a variety of events that highlight the importance of preserving cultural heritage materials during National Preservation Week.

Tuesday, April 29th, starting at 12 pm

The Art and Science of Document Security: Past, Present, and Future, 32-144 A series of talks presenting research on historical, contemporary, and novel methods for creating secure documents in all forms. Join us for one session or several. There will be breaks for refreshments and questions throughout.

  • 12:15 pm “Our Marathon”: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive
    Our Marathon is a crowd-sourced digital archive of stories, photos, video, and social media related to the Boston Marathon bombings and aftermath. Join us for a brown bag talk with Jim McGrath and Alicia Peaker from the Our Marathon team for an overview of the project and the archive.
  • 1:00 pm      Opening Remarks
  • 1:15 pm     Our Digital Lives: Protecting Our Data In Use and At Rest, Michael Halsall, Senior Network and Information Security Analyst at MIT

  • 1:45 pm    Benign Neglect No More: How Document Security Affects Access to Memory, Kari R. Smith, Digital Archivist, MIT Libraries Institute Archives and Special Collections
  • 2:45 pm    Historic Letterlocking: The Art and Security of Letterwriting, Jana Dambrogio, Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator, MIT Libraries Curation and Preservation Services
  • 4:00 pm    Thanks for the Memory: 50+ Years of Computing at MIT exhibit, 14N-130 Gallery visit led by Nora Murphy, Archivist for Reference, Outreach, and Instruction, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, Maihaugen Gallery  

  • 8:00 pm   The Monuments Men Movie Screening, 26-100 Enjoy a free screening of The Monuments Men. George Clooney portrays a local art conservation hero George Stout who saved cultural heritage from ruin during WWII.

Wednesday, April 30th, 11 am-3 pm

  • Our Marathon “Share Your Story” event, 10-105 Representatives from the Our Marathon online collection of Boston Marathon Bombing experiences will be on campus to document the personal experiences of the MIT community during and after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing.

May 1st, 2-3 pm

  • Scrapbook Preservation webinar, 14N-132 Interested in preserving your own items? Join us for a free webinar about scrapbook preservation hosted by the American Library Association. Melissa Tedone, Conservator of the Parks Library Preservation Department at Iowa State University, will talk about older scrapbooks as well as how to identify the most stable materials for new scrapbooks.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information contact preservation-team@mit.edu, or see the Preservation Week website.

Improving Water Quality in 19th Century Massachusetts

Posted March 25th, 2014 by Nora Murphy

A recent MIT news spotlight on research for detecting bacteria brought to mind 19th century research on water quality in Massachusetts.

05.18.10.01_Ellen_edit_300In the 1880s MIT chemist Ellen Swallow Richards, in collaboration with faculty member Dr. Thomas Drown, undertook a multi-year, comprehensive survey of the Massachusetts water supplies for the State Board of Health. The results included definitive information about the flow of rivers, analysis of the chemicals in the water, and high and low water marks. The most significant outcome was the creation of a ‘normal chlorine’ map of the Commonwealth’s water supplies. The varying amounts of chlorine in the water samples taken from Massachusetts’ rivers revealed the extent of man-made pollution in the Commonwealth. The findings lead to the establishment in Massachusetts of the first water-quality standards in the U.S.

Ellen Swallow Richards was chemist to the Massachusetts Board of Health from 1872 to 1875 and water analyst from 1887 to 1897, and an advocate for sanitary water and safe cooking standards throughout her life.

To examine the papers of Ellen Swallow Richards, and to learn more about and MIT’s long history of research on sanitary chemistry and food technology, contact the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections. Additional information about Mrs. Richards and her scientific contributions are available online.

New Exhibit: Thanks for the memory: 50+ years of computing at MIT

Posted March 12th, 2014 by Heather Denny
 Jay Forrester with Whirlwind staff and computer

Photograph of Jay Forrester with Whirlwind staff and computer, Barta Building, MIT campus

MIT’s wide-ranging impact on computer science is the focus of an exhibit that has just opened in the Libraries’ Maihaugen Gallery. From Project Whirlwind to Project Athena, MIT’s numerous contributions to the science of computing have affected society in ways no one could have imagined a century ago – though we take most of those developments for granted today.

Since World War II researchers at MIT have pushed computers to work faster, and more efficiently. They’ve explored applications for industry and government, and found ways to incorporate computers into research and teaching. This exhibit highlights some of the projects and research that have contributed to the development of computer theory, applications, software and hardware. The exhibit also celebrates the recent 50th anniversary of Project MAC – a project in which collaborative interdepartmental experimentation and research focused on time-sharing, human-computer interfaces, and interactive modeling.

The Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130) is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, except for Institute holidays and special events. The exhibit will run through July 2014.

Discussion: Scientific imaging for artwork & other cultural heritage materials

Posted February 20th, 2014 by Heather Denny

Discussion: Thursday, February 27, 2014, 11:00 am, 14N-132 (DIRC)

CulturalHeritageImage

Detail: Two modes of Reflectance Transformation Imaging. The bottom view shows a Japanese woodcut in “Normal” mode. The top view shows the “Specular Enhancement” mode, which removes color virtually to reveal the subtle surface impressions made in the paper by the artist. © Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Konishi Hirosada, artist, Osaka Actor Mimasu Daigoro IV , color woodcut with embossing and metallic pigment, c. 1851-59.

New scientific imaging tools offer the capability to see distinctive details on a 16th century rare book cover, a manuscript, or a work of art, that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Please join the MIT Libraries’ Curation and Preservation Services Department for a fascinating look at how this technology can help us to learn more about our cultural heritage materials, and how to best preserve them.

Carla Schroer, of the non-profit Cultural Heritage Imaging, will discuss the new empirical capture and analysis tools Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), Algorithmic Rendering (AR), and image-based Structure from Motion (SFM) generation of textured 3D geometry. These techniques will be explored in the context of the emerging science of “Computational Photography.” Computational Photography extracts and synthesizes information from image sequences to create a new type of image containing information not found in any single image in the sequence. This technology is in use in many areas from major art museums to remote archaeological sites to fields in the natural sciences.

The event is free and open to the public, no registration required.

Thanks, MIT music, for your dulcet tones.

Posted January 17th, 2014 by Jana Dambrogio

This week was an all-things-MIT-Music for the conservation lab. We de-installed the “Noteworthy Connections” exhibition in the Maihaugen Gallery  featuring the music treasures from the Lewis Music Library and the Institute Archives and Special Collections.

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MIT’s Chorallaries, an a cappella music group, provides cheerful music to listen to while we make protective enclosures for some of the illuminated music manuscripts folios that will be used for teaching next semester. We are curious to discover more “whistle-while-you-work” music created by MIT faculty, staff, and students.

Bound by Hand–Bookbindings created in the Libraries’ Conservation Lab

Posted January 7th, 2014 by Jana Dambrogio

Today is the first day of two Individual Activity Program (IAP) classes the conservation lab is offering. Participants are learning how to transform paper, cloth, board, thread, and glue into two types of blank books–pamphlet and flat back case bindings. Fabricating these foundational book structures reminds us here in the conservation lab why we love books, why we love to make them, and why we are dedicated to preserve them for access-old and new.

Pamphlet bindings made by hand with thread and paper.

A participant is creating the cover for the flat back case binding. Case bindings are made by creating the text block and cover separately; they are attached to each other to create a book.

Instructors for the class: Conservation Assistant Ayako Letizia and Preservation Associate Kate Beattie from the Wunsch Conservation Laboratory, Curation and Preservation Services.

Exploring tools for digital archives

Posted December 16th, 2013 by Myles Crowley

Curious about how the MIT Libraries are working to archive and preserve the digital record and primary sources for the Institute? Check out Digital Archivist Kari Smith’s recent blog post, which explains the current process and describes some software tools that are being considered. Be sure to stay tuned as the life-cycle experiments hosted by the Libraries’ new Digital Sustainability Lab further assess and test use cases and solutions.

IAP 2014: Culture, Arts, and Society

Posted December 9th, 2013 by Mark Szarko

Join the MIT Libraries for a series of classes on topics that range from letterlocking to the music of the Arab Spring. Some classes require registration.Beaver

Creative Bookbinding 2014
Tue Jan 7, 10:00am-12:30pm, 14-0513
Wed Jan 8, 10:00am-12:30pm, 14-0513
Contact: Kate Beattie, knb@mit.edu

Rare Book Speed Dating
Fri Jan 10, 10:30am-11:00am, 14N-118
Fri Jan 10, 11:15am-11:45am, 14N-118
Contact: Audrey Pearson, pearsona@mit.edu

Library Music! Open Mic in the Lewis Music Library
Fri Jan 10, 12:00pm-1:00pm, 14E-109
Fri Jan 24, 12:00pm-1:00pm, 14E-109
Contact: Peter Munstedt, pmunsted@mit.edu

Using Images in Your Work: A Look at Fair Use, Open Licensing, Copyright, and Identifying and Citing Images
Fri Jan 10, 1:00pm-2:15pm, 14N-132
Contact: Ellen Duranceau, efinnie@mit.edu

A Conversation with Ta’Nehisi Coates about Reading, Writing, and Libraries
Mon Jan 13, 11:00am-12pm, 14E-304
Contact: Patsy Baudoin, patsy@mit.edu

Leave It to the Beavers: A Snapshot of Life at MIT in the 1950s
Fri Jan 24, 2:00pm-3:30pm, 14N-118
Contact: Camille Torres Hoven, cttorres@mit.edu

Historic Letterlocking: The Art and Security of Letterwriting
Tue Jan 28, 10:00am-3:00pm, 14-0513
Wed, Jan 29, 10:00am-3:00pm, 14-0513
Contact: Jana Dambrogio, jld@mit.edu

Rap, Rai, Rock, and Revolution: The Role of Music in the “Arab Spring”
Tue Jan 28, 3:00pm-5:00pm, 3-133
Contact: Michael Toler, mtoler@mit.edu

For a complete list of IAP classes offered by the Libraries, please see our Calendar of Events.

Halloween treat: Monster Book of Monsters’ transformation

Posted October 31st, 2013 by Heather Denny

There have been spooky happenings in the Maihaugen Gallery this Halloween. A medieval chant book, originally from the fifteenth or sixteenth century, has inexplicably transformed into a Harry Potter-inspired Monster Book of Monsters! Come see the enormous leather-and-wood-bound book complete with scary demon face, vicious teeth, and dismembered body parts. Rumor has it that the book will disappear soon after midnight on Halloween, so see it today!

While you’re in the gallery, check out the exhibit Noteworthy ConnectionsMusic in the MIT Libraries on display until December 12, 2013.

MonsterBookofMonsters

Please note: No library users were harmed in the creation of the Monster Book, and all fun was had under the care and supervision of the Libraries’ expert Preservation team.

Lewis Music Library launches Music at MIT Oral History Collection website

Posted August 7th, 2013 by Heather Denny

A new library resource, the Music at MIT Oral History Collection, brings the history of music at MIT to life through in-depth video and audio interviews with MIT music faculty, staff, and former students. It shares the stories of performers, conductors, composers, music theorists, historians, acousticians, librarians, scientists and engineers, revealing their contributions to the musical life of the Institute and the world at large, as well as the effect music at MIT had in their own lives and careers.

Starting from the website’s index of interviewees you can:
  • Choose interviews by MIT affiliation (MIT faculty, staff, student, etc.) and by topic (composers, jazz, world music, etc.).
  • Select interviews to watch video, or listen to audio.
  • Search within transcripts by keyword, download PDF transcripts, and view biographical background information on each interviewee.

The resource is a culmination of over a decade’s worth of documentation by Forrest Larson, a staff member at MIT’s Lewis Music Library. The project was generously funded by MIT alumnus Lionel Kinney (’53). Learn more about the project.

Dambrogio named as MIT Libraries’ new conservator

Posted July 31st, 2013 by Heather Denny
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Jana Dambrogio

Jana Dambrogio will join the staff of the MIT Libraries in September as the new Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator. In this role she will manage MIT’s special collections conservation program–planning and executing conservation treatments for the physical maintenance of rare books, archives, and manuscripts. She will also contribute to the Libraries’ overall preservation strategy.

Dambrogio comes from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where she has been a senior conservator since 2004. In addition to her work at NARA, she brings an impressive array of experience from consultancies, fellowships, and internships at other well-known national and international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the Vatican Secret Archives, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Houghton Library at Harvard University.

“Jana is an experienced and innovative conservator who is prepared to continue the high level of commitment, notable ability, and passion for conservation that we have been fortunate to have in this position,” said Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services.

The Libraries conservator position is endowed by generous long-time MIT Libraries’ supporter Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (Class of 1957).

Ever wonder where MIT history lives? Explore the MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections

Posted July 1st, 2013 by Remlee Green

photo of the Institute Archives reading roomMIT’s history comes alive in the Institute Archives and Special Collections. Come explore!

  • Ever wondered where William Barton Rogers spent his honeymoon? Read his diary.
  • In 1962 Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions set a new standard in the philosophy of science. Read his drafts in person at the Institute Archives & Special Collections.

MIT and Harvard libraries awarded grant to foster careers in digital stewardship

Posted June 26th, 2013 by Heather Denny

MIT and Harvard libraries will play a role in ensuring a new generation of library school graduates will be prepared for jobs in digital stewardship. The universities were jointly awarded a 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will fund a pilot program to help recent graduates gain the skills, experience, and network needed to begin successful careers.

“There’s a real gap between students graduating and the skills they need for available jobs. The program aims to bridge that gap,” said Nancy McGovern, head of curation and preservation services for MIT Libraries, and a co-author of the grant proposal.

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The program will mirror a national digital curation residency program developed by the Library of Congress, but it will be the first of its kind in the Boston-area. Over the course of two years a total of ten residents will get hands-on experience in projects that involve digital library collections, long-term preservation, and accessibility of digital assets. Recent library school graduates will have a chance to apply for the program that will give them the opportunity to work with a host institution in the Boston-area, and network with other area institutions, industry leaders, and peers.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for the MIT Libraries to participate in raising awareness, and building community and competencies in this field,” said McGovern.

McGovern will coordinate the development of the program’s curriculum, in collaboration with Andrea Goethals, manager of digital preservation and repository services for Harvard Library, and lead author of the grant proposal. The first year of the grant will cover planning and preparation. The program will welcome the first cohort of residents in fall 2014.

MIT and Harvard will also work closely with a similar grant-funded project in New York led by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and Brooklyn Historical Society. See the full list of 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant recipients.

Archives’ Kari Smith blogs about digital archives

Posted May 9th, 2013 by Lois Beattie


 
Announcing the blog, Engineering the Future of the Past, by staff of the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.

Are you interested in knowing what the MIT Libraries is doing about digital archives?  Follow Digital Archivist Kari Smith as she writes about the processes and practice of dealing with digital records and archives.

 

Save the date: Celebrate the restoration of MIT’s Great Dome on April 10!

Posted March 20th, 2013 by Heather Denny

 

 

 

 

 

Join us for a community open house celebrating the historic restoration of MIT’s Great Dome, and the opening of Barker Library’s 24-hour reading room.

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 2-4pm

LOCATION: Barker Library Reading Room (10-500)

DETAILS: Remarks by President L. Rafael Reif. Refreshments to follow.

Noteworthy Connections opens in the Maihaugen Gallery

Posted February 21st, 2013 by Heather Denny

David M. Epstein conductor of the MIT Symphony Orchestra, 1965-1998, Photo: MIT Museum

A new exhibition exploring the extraordinary connection between the MIT mind and music has opened in the Libraries’ Maihaugen Gallery.

Noteworthy Connections: Music in the MIT Libraries delves into the holdings of the Lewis Music Library and the Institute Archives and Special Collections, to reveal MIT’s diverse musical interests, the accomplishments of its talented students and faculty, and the rich history the Institute’s musical groups and clubs.

The exhibit will be on view in the gallery until December, 2013. Visit the gallery:

Monday-Thursday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Building 14N-130