MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections

The Founding of MIT

Documents that led to the Institute's incorporation on April 10, 1861 ,

1846 | 1859 | 1860 | 1861



William Barton Rogers to henry Darwin Rogers, March 13, 1846

William Barton Rogers to Henry Darwin Rogers, March 13, 1846

In a letter dated March 13, 1846, William Barton Rogers, then on the faculty at the University of Virginia, sets forth his idea of a polytechnic school in Boston.

“The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is ... the teaching, not of the manipulations and minute details of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of all the scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them ...” (1)

William Barton Rogers

William Barton Rogers




House No. 260 (pdf)

Governor Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts announces in an address to the legislature that some of the newly created Back Bay lands should be given over to "public educational improvements."(2)

A group of local scientific and educational societies petitions the legislature for a tract of the land for a Conservatory of Art and Science (House No. 260), but their request is rejected. Rogers now lives in Boston, but although his name is on the petition, he apparently has taken little part.(3)


Objects and Plan

Objects and Plan

A new memorial (House No. 13) is presented to the legislature by the Associated Institutions of Science and Arts. It is received more favorably but not approved.

Rogers accepts the chairmanship of a committee to prepare a more detailed plan and petition the legislature for a grant of land.(4) The resulting Objects and Plan of an Institute of Technology, including a Society of Arts, a Museum of Arts, and a School of Industrial Science is printed and distributed in October to "Manufacturers, Merchants, Mechanics, Agriculturists, and Other Friends of Enlightened Industry in the Commonwealth."

Objects and Plan (pdf)

Objects and Plan, draft of title page

Objects and Plan, draft of title page


Act of Association

Act of Association

A meeting is held on January 11 to organize the Institute "in furtherance of a petition to the legislature for a Charter, and a portion of the Back-Bay lands."(5) An Act of Association is adopted and signed by 37 supporters of the plan. A Memorial is submitted to the legislature on January 14.

The Memorial is in An Account of the Proceedings Preliminary to the Organization of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; with a List of the Members Thus Far Associated, Appendix.

Account of the Proceedings (pdf)

On March 9, Governor John A. Andrew invites Rogers to address the Board of Education, the secretary of which was opposed to the plan.

Governor john A. Andrew to William Barton Rogers, March 9, 1861

Governor John A. Andrew to William Barton Rogers, March 9, 1861

Charter, p.1

Charter p. 1

"An Act to Incorporate the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and to Grant Aid to Said Institute and to the Boston Society of Natural History" was approved on April 10 as Chapter 183 of the Acts of 1861 (House No. 171).

Charter of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (pdf)


Charter, p.2

Charter p. 2

Land plan

Plan of the
Back Bay land

"One certain square of State land on the Back Bay, namely, the second square westwardly from the Public Garden, between Newbury and Boylston Streets ... shall be reserved from sale forever, and kept as an open space, or for the use of such educational institutions of science and art as are hereinafter provided for."(6)


Documents concerning the founding of MITT

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