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MIT Crew records

Identifier: AC-0655

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The MIT Crew collection contains four series that include audio-visual materials, photographs, scrapbooks, log books, and administrative documentation of the team.

Series 1, The Administrative and Promotional Materials series includes administrative documents made up of orientation guides, rowing guides, treasury reports and secretary minutes, and membership enrollment. The documents range from about 1937-2008.

Series 2, The Photograph Albums, Scrapbooks, and Personal Remembrances series depicts the history of the crew at MIT in mostly visual examples. Photographs of teams rowing, group portraits, and informal snapshots are combined with various clippings. Most folders in boxes 10 and 11 house a combination of newsclippings, yearbook pages, photographs, and to a lesser extent programs, telegrams, certificates, and jacket letters. Most of these photographs depict teams rowing, group portraits, individual portraits, and many informal images of the teams practicing, working out, and traveling.

Series 3, The Training Logs series includes daily training logs ranging from 1931-1977. The narrative journals are bound notebooks which include accounts detailing the day's practice with notes on weather, specific events, and the team's recorded times. These are two books that date from 1931-1939. The training logs from 1939-1973 are not bound and consist of pre-printed forms filled out the day of training. They include date, weather condition, miles rowed, names of each crew member, and brief notes on the practice overall. Some of these forms have brief narrative content.

Series 4, The Film series includes film reels of various sizes from the years 1962-1971. The films cover specific competitions, such as the Henley Royal Regatta housed in Box 18, or footage from an entire season. They range from 5” to 10.5” reels.


  • 1910 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open. Materials in the Films Series require reformatting before use.

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.

Historical Note

In 1902, the class of 1905 borrowed boats and began to hold crew practices on their own. Without much direction or funding, it died off. Then, in March of 1910, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) crew team began thanks to the enthusiasm of A. Griswold Herreshoff (‘12). William O’Leary was named the first coach of the team shortly after. At the time, President Richard Cockburn Maclaurin advocated for it, and as a result, raised $560 to buy the very first shell. The team competed in five races that first year, winning three and losing one, with the last called off due to rough waters. In April of 1911, the U.S. Naval Academy invited MIT to compete in Baltimore. MIT lost the race, but it still proved to be a legitimizing moment. (1)

In 1916, the Technology Rowing Association and MIT Boat Club were established. By the spring of 1921, crew was officially established as a permanent varsity sport. MIT hired its first professional crew coach, Bret Haines, in 1924. By 1929, MIT made its first appearance at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships (IRA). In the early 1950s, the lightweight team began to grow. From 1953-1974 the lightweights won the Eastern Sprints twice and medalled nine times. In 1954-55, Coach Frailey guided the lightweights to victory in the Thames Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. (2)

After being a club sport for a few years, women's crew finally attained varsity status in 1973. In 1981, the women’s team went on to win its first Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges (EAWRC) Sprints in the varsity lightweight category. (2)

1. “Boathouse Dedication Program, 1966,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Crew records, AC-0655, box 3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Distinctive Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

2. “MIT Crew Guide, 2007-2008,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Crew records, AC-0655, box 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Distinctive Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


13.67 Cubic Feet (in 12 document boxes, 2 record cartons, 4 flat boxes, and 1 extra wide document box)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) crew team from 1910-2014. It includes material that covers practices, competitions, alumni reunions, and other functions of MIT crew. There are photograph albums, scrapbooks, visual materials, training logs, films, and administrative documents.


Organized into four series: Series 1. Administrative and Promotional Materials; Series 2. Training Logs; Series 3. Photograph Albums, Scrapbooks, and Remembrances; Series 4. Films.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred to Distinctive Collections by Amelia Patton, Assistant Coach, MIT Lightweight Rowing on November 6, 2019

Related Materials

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Athletic Association records, AC-0070.

Conservation work

Visual material unrolled, flattened, and encapsulated by the Wunsch Conservation Lab staff include six oversize black and white gelatin photographs and one architectural drawing of Pierce Boathouse "Tank 8 Equipment". Completed November 2021.

Guide to MIT Crew records
Greta Suiter and Ashley Tooke
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

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

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US