MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections


Allen Hazen's Photograph Album
World Engineering Congress, Tokyo
October-November 1929

Part of album page
Allen Hazen attended MIT for only two semesters in 1888, leaving to accept a position as a sanitary chemist with the Massachusetts State Board of Health in Lawrence, Mass. His brief, but brilliant, record as a student of chemistry apparently qualified him to become Chemist-in-Charge (despite his youth – he was 19) of a laboratory that would eventually be called the Lawrence Experiment Station, the mission of which was to develop methods for treating the burgeoning volume of sewage and manufacturing wastewater created by the factories and households of the Commonwealth. The station was the first of its kind in the United States.

Hazen worked on many civil engineering projects in the course of the next 42 years, including designing filtration systems for Albany, Brisbane, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and other cities in the United States, Canada, South America, and Australia. He specialized in sewage disposal, hydraulics, and water supply. He lived in Boston, New York, and Vermont and was a partner in the civil engineering firm of Hazen and Whipple. Despite his short tenure at MIT, he always thought of himself as a member of the Class of 1888 and retained fond memories of his days at the Institute.

In the fall of 1929 Hazen traveled with his wife Elizabeth by steamship to Japan to represent the American Society of Civil Engineers at the World Engineering Congress in Tokyo. The congress, organized by the Kôggakkai, or Engineering Society of Japan, aimed (in the words of the society’s invitation) “to discuss various engineering subjects in anticipation eventually to initiate and promote the international cooperation in the study of engineering science and problems in all its branches, and to cultivate a feeling of brotherhood among the engineers of the world.” About eight hundred papers were presented, the largest number being given by Americans. “Between papers,” Technology Review noted, “the delegates are being carefully instructed in the intricacies of royal etiquette before they take their wives to call upon Emperor Hirohito…”

Attendees received souvenir scrapbooks provided by the organizers of the conference. The Hazens filled their scrapbook with photographs and ephemera associated with the trip. The sample page seen here contains a conference registration card, a rail pass, a train ticket, a scenic view of Mt. Fujiyama, and a snapshot of Mr. and Mrs. Hazen on a steamer.

Hazen died in 1930. The Japanese army invaded Manchuria in 1931.

The papers of Allen Hazen (MC 430) include personal and professional correspondence, travel diaries, notes and sketches regarding waterworks, reports from Hazen and Whipple, Inc., and other materials. The collection is available for use on-site in the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, Room 14N-118.

Object of the Month: January 2004

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