Course explores the Institute’s connections to slavery
By Brigham Fay on March 9, 2018 in All news
MIT and Slavery is an undergraduate research course on the founding and development of the Institute. Co-taught by Craig Steven Wilder, Barton L. Weller Professor of History, and Archivist for Researcher Services Nora Murphy, the class was embedded in the Institute Archives, where students researched a variety of topics using primary sources from the 19th century.
In February 2018, students and researchers presented their initial findings, including the discovery that MIT’s first president, William Barton Rogers, possessed enslaved persons in his Virginia household until the early 1850s, roughly a decade before he founded the Institute. Each student also chose a research topic, ranging from racial imagery in early MIT student publications to an early MIT class in moral philosophy that discussed slavery that was later dropped in the 1880s. These student projects, which involve working closely with archival material, will inform an evolving history of MIT and Slavery.