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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Humanities records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0404

  • Staff Only
  • Select item to request

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Records received in 1977, boxes 1-3, 1936-1967, include the 1936 Report of the Committee on Curriculum for the Department of English and History, as well as later curriculum material including course notes and evaluations. Information on faculty includes lists of publications, correspondence, and memoranda. There is some budget material relating to grant proposals, and material from the Corporation visiting committees.

Records received in 1980, boxes 4-7, 1964-1979, include information about grants from the Carnegie and Ford Foundations and other projects; correspondence of Bruce Mazlish, head of the department, 1975-1979; memoranda and reports about curriculum; and correspondence and reports about administrative, financial, and personnel issues.

Records received in 1992, box 8, 1920-1974, include President's Reports, 1920-1962; materials held by the Department of Humanities, 1931-1971; the Humanities Policy Committee, 1970-1974; and visiting committees, 1963-1972. Also included are records of how the Kelly Fund was used from 1975 to 1977 and files on the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the summer session, 1966-1970.

Records received in 1998 are unprocessed.

VHS, Betacam, and audio cassettes of lectures sponsored by the MIT Writing Program came from the Comparative Media Studies / Writing department and were accessioned in 2015 and are in box 10.


  • Creation: 1920 - 2005


Access note

This collection must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days to let you know whether your requested material is open. For complete information on this policy, see our Statement on Accessing Institute Records.

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

Richard Douglas was head of the Department of Humanities, 1962 to 1973.

Historical note

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology began offering classes in the humanities and related subjects when students were first admitted in 1865. These courses were intended to supplement the curriculum in science and engineering and to prepare students for adult life. Over the years, MIT's humanities and social science programs have undergone phases of expansion, contraction, and restructuring.

In 1932 MIT President Karl Taylor Compton proposed a new plan of administration, dividing the Institute into three schools and two divisions including the Division of Humanities. In 1950 the division became the School of Humanities and Social Studies and in 1959, the School of Humanities and Social Science. In 1954 the departments of English and history merged to form the Department of Humanities. Sections in philosophy (1961), music (1961), and literature (1962) were later added to the department. In 1971 philosophy became a separate department, and anthropology was added to the Department of Humanities. In 1975 the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics was discontinued, and foreign languages joined the Department of Humanities. In 1982 the six sections Anthropology/Archaeology, Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, Literature, Music, and Writing in the Department of Humanities became more autonomous, with their own section chairs and increased responsibility for curriculum, appointment, and budgetary affairs. The Humanities Undergraduate Office was established to provide coordination for the sections, and the position of department head was eliminated.

The heads of the Department of Humanities were Howard Russell Bartlett, 1954-1962; Richard M. Douglas, 1962-1973; Harold J. Hanham, acting head 1973-1974; Bruce Mazlish, acting head and head, 1974-1980; and Peter H. Smith, 1980-1981.


9.3 Cubic Feet (8 record cartons, 2 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



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

Processing Information note

Needs review.

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 Records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Humanities
Ready For Review
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023 March 9: Revised by processing archivist Chris Tanguay in March 2023 to update access notes and enhance 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