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Technique, 1902

Page from the thesis of Ellen Swallow (Richards), B.S., 1873.

The Institute Archives is responsible for maintaining the preservation copy of all graduate theses (as well as selected senior theses). The Institute preserves student theses because they are official records related to the MIT degree. In addition, the thesis is a record of original research containing information of continuing value to other researchers, businesses, historians, and descendants and family members.

MIT's first graduating class submitted handwritten senior theses in 1868. As departments developed programs of graduate study, the master's thesis and doctoral dissertation became integral parts of the graduate degree requirements

Theses provide a snapshot of what students and their advisors were interested in at any given time in MIT's history. Biographers often read a subject's student work to trace ideas or career objectives back to their source. Historians use old theses to identify historical trends. Theses raise questions and point the direction for future research. Faculty members, students, and other scholars use the thesis collection at MIT to determine what facts have been established, what problems have been solved, and what topics remain to be explored. Harold ("Doc") Edgerton's 1931 study of efficiency in synchronous motors, I. M. Pei's 1940 design for standardized propaganda units for China, and Ellen Swallow Richards's 1873 observations about sulpharsenites and sulphantimonites were first coherently expressed in tangible form as MIT theses.


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