MIT and the Legacy of Slavery

Published on Feb 12, 2018

ABOUT — The first class of the “MIT and Slavery” research project took place in the Fall of 2017 and the initial findings will be published in detail during the Spring 2018 term. Among other discoveries, the early findings: offer insights about the role of MIT in the post-Civil War era of Reconstruction; reveal examples of racism in the culture of the early campus; and uncover the fact that MIT’s founder, William Barton Rogers, owned six enslaved people in Virginia, before he moved to Massachusetts in 1853.

The findings also suggest new lines of research about the entangled relationship between the slave economies of the Atlantic world, the fields of science and engineering, and U.S. technical institutions. MIT seeks to encourage such new historical research and to contribute to the larger national conversation about the ongoing legacies of slavery — including how history helps us better understand the roles, impact, and responsibilities of science and technology institutions in contemporary society.

The “MIT and Slavery” research project will continue into the foreseeable future and its findings will be shared apace via a website that is accessible to the MIT community, scholars, the public, and the media.

LEARN MORE Letter from MIT President L. Rafael Reif: MIT

News story by Peter Dizikes:
MIT News story by SHASS Communications:
MIT and Slavery website:
Ebony and Ivy, by Craig Steven Wilder: MIT
News story: about Ebony and Ivy:

THE VIDEO PRODUCERS WISH TO THANK: The 2017 MIT and Slavery class: Craig Steven Wilder, Barton L. Weller Professor of History Nora Murphy, MIT Archivist for Researcher Services Clare Kim, PhD candidate, Teaching Assistant Alaisha Alexander ’18 Mahi Elango ’20 Kelvin Green II ’21 Charlotte Minsky ’20 L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Kirk D. Kolenbrander, MIT Vice President MIT President’s Office MIT News Office Kimberly Allen, Director of Media Relations Martha Eddison, Special Assistant to the President All members of the Communications Planning Team PRODUCTION CREDITS Producers: Joe McMaster and Emily Hiestand Editor: Jean Dunoyer Camera: Wesley Richardson, Tom White, Charles Butler Graphics: Jon Mello Archival Imagery: MIT Museum Additional classroom footage: Jia Spiggle Music: “All Night Long,” “Blues Angeline,” written and performed by Lobo Loco, / Creative Commons license Video by MIT Video Productions and MIT SHASS Communications ©2018 MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

“MIT and Slavery reveals initial findings – Course explores the Institute’s connections to slavery,” By Brigham Fay, March 9, 2018

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