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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture curricula

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0475

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

A notable item in this collection is a document of 1866, Outline of a Course of Architectural Instruction, a pamphlet by William R. Ware, the first professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) It discusses early plans for an architecture curriculum in the beginning years of MIT.

The curricula collection was assembled from a variety of sources in the MIT Libraries. More complete information about classes in all years can be found in the annual catalogs of the Institute.


  • Creation: 1866 - 1942


Access note

This collection is open.

Digital Access Note

Some parts of this collection are available online. Links to specific online digital items are found within their entry in this finding aid.

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

The first architecture faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was William R. Ware, appointed in the fall of 1865 to plan the curriculum of the first architecture school in the United States. Funds were supplied partly by MIT and partly from private sources for William Ware to visit Europe to examine educational programs and purchase supplies; thus classes were not held until October 1868. The first student graduated with an architecture degree in 1873. Classes were held in the Rogers Building on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, but the department moved often as it grew and required more space. In 1883 the department moved into a new building on the corner of Boylston and Clarendon Streets. In 1892 the department moved agaid into a new Architecture building, designed by department head Francis Chandler. In 1898 the department moved again into the Pierce Building at Trinity Place. The department stayed in Boston in the Rogers Building when the rest of the Institute moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in June 1916. In 1938, a new architecture building (building 7) opened on the Cambridge campus to house the department and the last of the Boston campus was sold.

An architecture summer school was held beginning in 1893 to bring students in contact with the practical side of building. The first summer school was held at the World's Fair in Chicago, subsequent trips were made to other parts of the United States and to Europe.

Beginning in 1922 a class in city planning was required for candidates of the Bachelor of Architecture degree. In 1932 the Institute authorized a five year course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Architecture in City Planning and in 1935 authorized the degree of Master in City Planning.

In 1932 the School of Architecture was established as part of the general academic reorganization of the Institute proposed by MIT president Karl T. Compton. The School consisted of the Department of Architecture and later the Department of City Planning (now Department of Urban Studies and Planning).


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



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

Related Materials

Massachusetts Department of Architecture reports, Department of Distinctive Collections, AC 260.

Massachusetts School of Architecture and Planning, Architecture Education Study records, Department of Distinctive Collections, AC 108.

Massachusetts School of Architecture and Planning, Office of the Dean records, Department of Distinctive Collections, AC 400.

Massachusetts Department of Urban Studies and Planning curricula. Department of Distinctive Collections, AC 377.


  • Shillaber, Caroline. Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture and Planning, 1861-1961: a hundred year chronicle. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1963.
  • "An Outline of a Course of Architectural Instruction," by William Ware, paper read before the Society of Arts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the evening of December 21, 1865. (printed 1866)
Guide to the Curricula of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Architecture, 1866-1942
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