The three-day reunion of MIT alumni and alumnae on June 12th, 13th, and 14th, 1916, was described by MIT professor Robert E. Rogers as “the coming-of-age of Technology, the moment when the Institute consciously took her place among the great world universities.” Almost 4,000 graduates of MIT, approximately half of the entire alumni body, attended the extravagant celebration to open the completely new Cambridge campus, a campus made possible after an anonymous donor gave MIT the money to purchase the land and construct the new buildings.
It was the dedication and organized opposition of MIT graduates who thwarted a proposed merger of MIT and Harvard a few years earlier at the turn of the century and so it is appropriate that the 1916 reunion, which also bid farewell to the Boston buildings that had been home to MIT for the previous fifty years, was organized and run by the alumni themselves along with faculty and undergraduates. A Dedication Reunion Committee, subdivided into over 20 subcommittees, was responsible for an elaborate set of festivities that included receptions, exhibits, “events in the basin,” a pageant, and the “telephone banquet.” The publicity and souvenir subcommittee produced a special booklet that offers a glimpse of the extensive program of activities with intriguing descriptions such as “Flight by Farnum Fish in a Wright Biplane,” and “Masque of Power.”
To find out more about the reunion, browse through the Souvenir Program or read the account in the July 1916 Technology Review; or look through the records of the Dedication Reunion Committee (AC 343) or the Office of the President (AC 13) in the Institute Archives and Special Collections. Find out more about Orville Wright or the telephone banquet; or see maps of the two campuses, Boston and Cambridge.
Object of the Month: June 2003