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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Personnel Office records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0504

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the official personnel records maintained by the Personnel Office of the Massachusetts Institute of Technolgy (MIT). Records in the collection comprise active employees of the Institute of July 1999.


  • Creation: 1999 - 1999


Access note

All materials in this collection are restricted from general research for 75 years from their date of creation. Staff from the Office may request access for MIT Business.

Historical Note

The Personnel Office officially opened on July 1, 1943. The Executive Committee of the Corporation had considered the need for such an office as early as 1914, but decided it was not necessary, and non-academic personnel matters remained the responsibility of the Bursar’s Office. It was established upon the recommendation of the MIT Wage Board, which consisted of the treasurer, the bursar, assistant bursar, and an assistant to the president. At first the office was temporary, created to respond to wartime difficulties in securing personnel and to the myriad state and federal regulations that required detailed documentation of compensation and hiring practices. The purpose of the office was to procure applicants for available non-staff (non-academic) positions; manage all matters relating to employment; set the starting wage rate; confer with department heads regarding salary increases; maintain personal history data of each employee; and serve as liaison between non-staff employees and the administration.

Robert M. Kimball, assistant to the president and a member of the Wage Board, set up the Personnel Office and served as its official head, in an advisory capacity, from 1943 until 1945. In 1945 the Executive Committee decided to continue the Personnel Office as a permanent division of the Institute’s administration. The office continued to operate under the auspices of the Wage Board which was reconstituted in 1946 as the Personnel Board to include representatives of various administrative offices plus the personnel officer. The board met at least quarterly to review salary recommendations and policy changes.

In 1946, Ruth C. Glynn, who had managed the office for two years, became the first personnel officer of the Institute. The office was responsible for assuring fair and equitable treatment of all employees and served as liaison between the employees and the administration. The Personnel Office was intended to be the central office for all non-staff activities.

The activities of the Personnel Office focused on labor negotiations with the unions for the maintenance, food service, and laboratory staff; codifying existing personnel policies and procedures in the form of employee manuals for the three largest groups of employees: laboratory, maintenance, and office staff; and involving representatives from unions, academic departments, and research projects in the development and implementation of new policies, in an attempt to foster uniform application of Institute policy.

In 1958 the office became the Office of Personnel Relations, composed of three divisions with three officers: Personnel Services, Salaried Personnel Relations, and Union Relations. In 1963, the office was again reorganized to include an employment office, benefits officers, and training consultants. These changes, and the appointment of tuition assistance officers in 1968, reflect efforts on the part of the Institute to use less traditional forms of compensation to attract and retain qualified personnel.

In 1969, as a result of MIT President Howard Johnson’s 1968 mandate to increase minority representation at MIT, the Office of Personnel Relations hired a minority recruiter, two minority counsellors and a training specialist for minority group employees. The office underwent significant restructuring in 1973 when it was again named the Personnel Office and divided into three sections, each with its own director who reported to the Institute vice president for administration and personnel, John M. Wynne. The Office of Personnel Development was responsible for special services, tuition assistance, and training. The Office of Personnel Relations was responsible for union negotiations, wage and salary administration, benefits, and unemployment compensation. The Office of Personnel Services was responsible for information services and employment.

Budget pressures at the Institute resulted in the consolidation of the Personnel Office in 1978 with a single director, who then organized the office into four sections in 1980: Compensation and Employment, Faculty and Staff Information Services, Labor Relations, and Personnel Services and Development. It was during this period that the office gained responsibility for faculty administering personnel matters. The general focus of the office did not significantly change, and meeting employee needs through development and benefits services remained a high priority.

The Personnel Office assumed responsibility for the Office of Child Care in 1985. In 1990 the Office of Community Services, later named the Office of Special Community Services, was created. The Office of Special Community Services included such offices as the Child Care Office (renamed the Family Resource Center in 1992), MIT Activities Committee (MITAC), and the MIT-Cambridge Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. The Office of Special Community Services further expanded the office’s role in administering employee benefits and services. The Office of Special Community Services was disbanded in July 1994 and the Family Resource Center ceased reporting to the Personnel Office. The Personnel Office has reported to one of the offices of the vice president of the Institute since 1962.

With the promotion of Joan F. Rice to vice president for human resources in 1995, her office assumed responsibility for matters of personnel, equal opportunity, family and work, and general management of MIT’s human resources. The office was subsequently renamed the Human Resources Department.

In February 2015, Lorraine Goffe-Rush, Vice President for Human Resources, assumed leadership of the department, which is composed of six units: Benefits, Compensation, Labor and Employee Relations, Operations, Organization and Employee Development and Staffing Services.


120 Cubic Feet (120 record cartons)

Language of Materials



This collection contains personnel records of active (in July 1999) employees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In accordance with MIT's records policies, these records are closed for reserach and only accessible to staff of the Office for MIT Business by written request.

Other Aids to the Collection

A condensed box list is available to staff in the MIT ArchivesSpace staff interface. A more detailed paper list is available to staff in the collection control files of Institute Archives and Special Collections.

Processing Information

In spring 2021, this finding aid was revised as part of a project to publish previously unpublished finding aids. The finding aid was brought up to minimum description standards and any personally identifying information in the description was removed.

Guide to the Records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Personnel Office, 1999
Ready For Review
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 April: Edited by Chris Tanguay for compliance with DACS single-level optimum requirements and to remove personally identifying information from the 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