Skip to main content

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, general studies curricula

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0485

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection contains information about courses offered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1868 and 1927 in general studies, humanities, and social science subject areas. The material is primarily syllabi and course notes. Also included are summer reading lists issued by the faculty of the Institute.


  • 1868 - 1927


Access note

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.

Historical note

The Department of General Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) did not officially exist until 1882. Courses in general studies were offered as early as 1865, when the MIT Catalog offered a curriculum option called the Course in Science and Literature. At that time, all regular MIT students were required to take “general studies” classes from the Course in Science and Literature, in addition to English, history, and modern languages. In 1882 the Course in Science and Literature became the Course in General Studies (designated as Course IX) and expanded its offerings in history, economics, language, and literature. The department was initially led by MIT president Francis A. Walker and later by faculty member Davis R. Dewey.

In 1904 Course IX was discontinued; however, in 1905 courses in general studies were reintroduced in the form of electives open primarily to students in their third and fourth years. In 1932 President Karl Compton set up a Division of Humanities with three departments: economics and social science, English and history, and modern languages, expanded to a School of Humanities and Social Studies in 1950.

Historical information about the Department of General Studies and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences can be found at:


1.3 Cubic Feet (4 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



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


  • Caldwell, Robert G. “The Humanities at Technology,” Technology Review, Volume 43, 1941. MIT Libraries.
  • Historical information about the Department of General Studies and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences can be found at:
Guide to Massachusetts Institute of Technology General Studies Curricula, 1868-1927
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