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Richard C. Maclaurin papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0588

Scope and Contents

The collection of Richard C. Maclaurin papers consists mainly of Maclaurin’s notebooks from St. John’s College, Cambridge, 1892-1894. Included are copies of his Yorke Prize essay, the Tripos Prize essay, and the lecture notes on light, published in 1909 by Columbia University Press.


  • 1892 - 1908


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Biographical Note

Richard Cockburn Maclaurin, 1870-1920, was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1909 until his death in 1920. He was born in Scotland, raised in New Zealand, and educated in England at the University of Cambridge, where he earned a BA in mathematics in 1895, an MA in Mathematics in 1896, and a degree in law in 1898. He was experienced in two remarkably different subjects, physics and law. In 1896-1897 he traveled to observe educational methods at North American universities. Maclaurin was a professor of mathematics at the University of New Zealand from 1898 to 1905 and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the same institution from 1905 to 1907. He served as professor of mathematical physics at Columbia University in New York from 1907 to 1909 and was head of the Department of Physics in 1908 and 1909. His career as president of MIT was marked by his leadership overseeing the move of the Institute from Boston to Cambridge in 1916 and by maintaining efficient operations during the disruptions of World War I.

Richard Maclaurin married Margaret A. Young (born January 6, 1879, died May 30, 1951) in December 1904.


2 Cubic Feet (5 manuscript boxes, 1 legal manuscript box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Related Materials

Collection on Student Life at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MC 618)

Julius Adams Stratton papers (MC 431)

MIT Office of the President, records of Karl Taylor Compton and James Rhyne Killian (AC 4)

Harry Walter Tyler papers (MC 91)

MIT Office of the President records (AC 13)


  • Pearson, Henry G. Richard Cockburn Maclaurin: President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1909-1920. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937.
  • McLennan, Roy. The career of Richard C. Maclaurin :I - the early years. Cambridge, Mass. : M.I.T. Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, 1975.
  • McLennan, Roy. The career of Richard C. McClaurin [sic] :II - the later years. Cambridge, Mass. : M.I.T. Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, 1975.
  • Maclaurin, Richard C. Light. New York: The Columbia University Press, 1909.
  • Noyes, Arthur A. Address delivered at the inauguration of Dr. Richard C. Maclaurin as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at Symphony Hall, June 7, 1909. [S.l. : s.n.], 1909.
  • Maclaurin, Richard C. The theory of light; a treatise on physical optics. In three parts. Part I. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1908.
  • Maclaurin, Margaret Alice. Ab origine fidus, faithful from the beginning: The story of the lives of Richard Cockburn Maclaurin and Margaret Alice Young Maclaurin; By Margaret Alice Young Maclaurin as told to Margaret Emily Powell Mayer. 1900.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Richard C. Maclaurin
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Revision Statements

  • 2021 July 7: Edited by Lana Mason for compliance with DACS single-level optimum requirements and to remove aggrandizing terms in the biographical note description.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

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