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Walker, Francis Amasa, 1840-1897



  • Existence: 1840 July 2 - 1897 January 5


Francis Amasa Walker, 1840-1897, A.B. 1860, Amherst College, served as the third President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1881-1897. Raised in Boston, Walker would study in Amherst, MA and in 1861 would volunteer as a Union staff officer -- eventually promoted to brigadier general -- during the Civil War [2].

Walker relocated to Washington DC in 1869, working as chief of the Bureau of Statistics at the Treasury. From this experience, he was appointed as the superintendent of the U.S. census in 1870, and later in 1880 as well [2]. During this time, In 1871-1872, Walker also served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs under President Ulysses S. Grant [2]. He compiled and published his official reports, as well several separate publications, into his 1874 book, The Indian Question. The writings provide a considerably racist view on Native American affairs and helped to maintain oppressive reservation policies.

Afterward, Walker became a professor of political economy at Yale University from 1873-1881. There he published his book,The Wages Question, an effort to disprove the wage-fund doctrine notion and further propose his own residual theory that later became a foundation for marginal productivity theory of distribution [3].

He was married to Exene Evelyn Stoughton in 1865 until his death in 1897. They had five sons and two daughters together. Alongside his tenure at MIT, Walker would also act as the President of the American Statistical Association, (1883-1897) and of the American Economic Association (1885–92) [3].

1."Francis Amasa Walker, 1840-1897" MIT Libraries (October 2020) 2. Simson Garfinkel, "Walker and the 'Indian Question'" MIT Technology Review (August 2021) 3. "Francis A. Walker" Britannica Encylopedia (January 2023)


Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Correspondence, MIT, 1881 - 1889

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: cuid26300
Scope and Contents

Correspondents include Edward W. Greenleaf, George Holmes Howison, William Ripley Nichols, and Francis Amasa (General) Walker.

Dates: 1881 - 1889

Davis R. Dewey papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0070
Scope and Contents of the Collection The Davis R. Dewey papers document Dewey's personal and professional life. The papers date from 1883 to 1913, the period of his early career as an academic economist. Most of the collection consists of correspondence with Dewey's family; with members of the St. Botolph Club; and with the Alumni Association of the University of Vermont. Of most interest is Dewey's voluminous professional correspondence concerning the affairs of the economics profession, correspondence and clippings...
Dates: 1874 - 1913

Francis Amasa Walker papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0298
Abstract Francis Amasa Walker (1840-1897) was the third president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1881-1897. This collection consists of correspondence, speeches, and writings by Walker, most of which he wrote while president of MIT. His speeches and writings focus on labor and capital, especially the silver standard, technical education, the student workload at MIT, and accounts of the Civil War. Scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings about Walker, several published letters he...
Dates: 1862 - 1897

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Francis A. Walker Memorial Service Committee records

 Collection — Box 1: [Barcode: 39080024704394]
Identifier: AC-0344
Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists of letters accepting and declining invitations to attend a memorial service for MIT President Francis Amasa Walker held in October 1897. Also included is a record book “report” created by the committee to document the planning of the memorial service.

Dates: 1897 - 1897

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0013
Abstract The collection documents the administration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the responsibilities and activities of the Institute's presidents between 1897 and 1930. This was a period of enormous growth and development of the Institute, which was chartered in 1861 and graduated its first class of undergraduates in 1868. There is correspondence about the proposed merger with Harvard University in 1904 and a proposed alliance in 1911. The purchase of land, the planning...
Dates: 1883 - 1941; Majority of material found within 1897 - 1931

William R. Ware papers

Identifier: MC-0014
Abstract William Robert Ware is best known as an educator and the founder of the schools of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Columbia University. Also a practicing architect, he and his partner, Henry Van Brunt, designed and built a number of buildings in the Boston and Cambridge areas, including First Church (Unitarian), Boston; First Congregational Church, Boston; Episcopal Seminary, Harvard University; and Memorial Hall, Harvard University. This collection...
Dates: 1826 - 1914