MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections

John Ely Burchard, 1898-1975.

Papers, 1923-1975.

Manuscript Collection - MC 76

Biographical Note | Scope and Content Note


John Ely Burchard, 1898-1975, S.B. in architectural engineering, 1923, S.M. 1925, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked for Bemis Industries, Inc. for thirteen years, where he was well known for his work in housing. He became a professor at MIT and director of the Albert Farwell Bemis Foundation in 1938. On leave of absence during World War II, 1940-1945, Burchard headed a number of committees and missions, for which he was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Truman in 1948. Upon his return to MIT he was director of libraries until 1948 when he became the first dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science. During his administration the Center for International Studies was established, and graduate programs were developed in political science, philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. He was responsible for the initiation of Course XXI, in which students majored in humanitites or social sciences in combination with science or engineering. He also wrote extensively on housing, library planning, architecture, and education and cultural subjects. He retired in 1964 as professor emeritus.

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7.3 cubic feet (7 records cartons & 1 manuscript box)

The collection documents Burchard's professional and personal activities. Included is an extensive file of his speeches and writings on architecture, art, and education; travel diaries, largely consisting of architectural observations; and MIT-related correspondence from the period following his retirement as dean in 1964.

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