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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implications of Scientific Progress records

 Collection
Identifier: AC-0172

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection is arranged into two series. Series I contains thirty-seven 7 1/2 ips 7-inch reel-to-reel audio tapes of the three general assemblies and six panel discussions held during the 1949 mid-century celebrations. The speakers at the assemblies were Julius A. Stratton, Sir Winston Churchill, and Harold E. Stassen. Panel members of "The Problem of World Production" were Vannevar Bush, Charles P. Kindleberger, W. Rupert Maclaurin, Frank W. Notestein, Fairfield Osborn, Robert P. Russell, and Sir Henry Tizard. Panel members of "Science, Materialism, and the Human Spirit" were Everett M. Baker, Julius S. Bixler, Percy W. Bridgman, Karl W. Deutsch, Jacques Maritain, and Walter T. Stace. Panel members of "Specialization in the 20th Century" were Sidney Hook, Frederic Lilge, Sir Richard Livingstone, Andrey A. Potter, Phillip J. Rubon, Thomas K. Sherwood, and Charles A. Thomas. Panel members of "The Problem of the Underdeveloped Area" were James M. Barker, Richard M. Bissell, Jr., William Malcolm, Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, Norman J. Padelford, and Nelson A. Rockefeller. Panel members of "The Role of the Individual in a World of Institutions" were Douglass V. Brown, Erwin D. Canham, Carlos Contreras, Ralph E. Flanders, Clinton S. Golden, and Merle A. Tuve. Panel members of "The State, Industry and the University" were Laird Bell, Lee A. DuBridge, Bryn J. Hovde, Peter H. Odegard, John D. Russell, and Julius A. Stratton.

Also included are tapes of the inauguration of James R. Killian, April 2, 1949, and a microfilm copy of a scrapbook on the MIT Mid-Century Convocation with schedules of events and a map of the MIT campus; photographs; and newspaper clippings containing quotes, speech texts, and photographs.

Boxes 7 and 8 contain the texts of various convocation panel presentations, notes, the General Program bulletin, two issues of MIT Development Program News with articles covering the event, and correspondence. These materials were compiled by John E. Burchard for his book Mid-Century: The Social Implications of Scientific Progress (Cambridge, 1950). Also included in box 8 are four video recordings, one of which contains 1949 video footage of the convocation.

Series 2 includes the remaining three video recordings in box 8. The videos in Series 2 are retrospective and were created in 1999 as part of a collaborative exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the convocation. The exhibit, titled “On the Edge of the Future: The Mid-Century Convocation at MIT,” was put together by the Institute Archives and Special Collections and the MIT Museum and featured historic photographs in addition to the video recordings. Two of the videos show an interview with Tom Toohey, who was president of the Class of 1949 and had the honor of sitting on stage during Winston Churchill’s address. The other video is a documentary-style piece featuring Tom Toohey’s recollections about Winston Churchill’s participation in the convocation, in addition to convocation footage.

Dates

  • 1949, 1999

Creator

Access note

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Condition of media needs to be reviewed. There may be restrictions on use.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to Distinctive Collections. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the creating office.

Historical note

The inauguration of James R. Killian as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's tenth president on April 2, 1949, was preceded by the two-day "Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implications of Scientific Progress" on March 31 and April 1. The idea for the convocation originated in the wish of the MIT Corporation to examine the role MIT was to play in the post-war era, after the Institute had become a leader in government scientific research during World War II. The convocation and inauguration were the occasion of a gathering to listen to Winston Churchill, Harold E. Stassen, and prominent scholars who examined the role of science and technology in addresses that included the following themes: The State of Science; The Twentieth Century; Men against Nature; Men against Men; Science, Materialism and the Human Spirit; The Role of the Individual in a World of Institutions; The Problem of Specialization in Twentieth Century Education; The State, Industry, and the University; The Store of the Future; and The Obligations and Ideals of the Institute of Technology.

Large numbers of MIT alumni were invited as guests and since almost 18,000 persons attended, Churchill's speech was given in Boston Garden with television signals sent back to the MIT campus. Convocation program events were held in Rockwell Cage on the MIT campus. Representatives from institutions of higher learning and learned societies took part in the inauguration of President Killian on the third day of the convocation. Verbatim accounts of the convocation discussions were published in Mid-Century: The Social Implications of Scientific Progress, edited by John Ely Burchard (Cambridge, 1950).

Extent

2.5 Cubic Feet (7 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The inauguration of James R. Killian as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's tenth president on April 2, 1949, was preceded by the two-day "Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implications of Scientific Progress" on March 31 and April 1. The collection contains thirty-seven 7 1/2 ips 7-inch reel-to-reel audio tapes of the three general assemblies and six panel discussions held during the 1949 midcentury celebrations; tapes of the inauguration ceremonies; 1949 video footage of the convocation; and a microfilm copy of a scrapbook on the convocation. The collection contains materials compiled by John E. Burchard for his book Mid-Century: The Social Implications of Scientific Progress, including texts of the panel presentations. The collection also includes video recordings created in 1999 as part of an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the convocation.

Location

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

Related Materials

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President, records of Karl T. Compton and James R. Killian (AC 4).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Humanities and Social Science, Office of the Dean, records of John E. Burchard (AC 20).
James R. Killian papers (MC 423).

Bibliography

  • Mid-Century: The Social Implications of Scientific Progress, edited by John Ely Burchard. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1950.
  • The Education of a College President: A Memoir, by James R. Killian. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985.
Title
Guide to the Records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implications of Scientific Progress, 1949
Status
Completed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

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

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