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William Barton Rogers papers

 Collection
Identifier: MC-0001

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Barton Rogers manuscript collection consists primarily of family and professional correspondence, but also includes notes, drafts of speeches and legislative petitions, documents relating to the founding of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scientific publications, and biographical material collected after his death in 1882. There is also correspondence between his wife, Emma Savage Rogers, and his colleagues. During William Rogers episodes of poor health from 1868 to 1872, his wife responded to business and MIT correspondence which was often written directly to her. It appears that she also wrote a large number of the copies of William Rogers outgoing letters from around 1870 as the letters are in a different hand than his earlier ones. The collection contains her own correspondence between the period of his death in 1882 her death in 1911.

Two volumes of selected letters of William Barton Rogers and other members of his family were published in 1896. These volumes, titled Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, were edited by his widow and they constitute an important source of information about the family. The relationship between the published volumes of letters and the manuscript collection is unclear. Not all the letters that appear in Life and Letters still exist in the Rogers papers. At the same time, there are letters in the manuscript collection that were not published in Life and Letters.

Family and Scientific Correspondence

The strength of the collection is the extensive family and professional correspondence represented in it. A significant portion of the collection is Rogers family correspondence, beginning in 1811 with letters of Patrick Rogers (father of William). Later William was a frequent correspondent with each of his three brothers (James, Henry, and Robert) although his brother James died in 1852 and Henry in 1866. William’s correspondence in the collection extends until his death in 1882. Since all four of the Rogers brothers were noted scientists, family correspondence often doubled as scientific correspondence. Each brother corresponded with the others about his own personal and professional activities, new techniques in experimentation, issues in scientific inquiry, and news of other members of the family.

In addition, the brothers all corresponded with their colleagues on scientific topics, and the collection includes letters to and from such noted scientists as James D. Dana, Charles H. Hitchcock, John L. LeConte, F. B. Meek, J. S. Newberry, H. C. Williams, Charles Daubeny, William C. Redfield, Louis Agassiz, Edward Hitchcock, William Gregory, W. C. Bond, Ogden Rood, Eben Coffin, E. S. Snell, George Brush, John A. Tobin, John Rodgers, J. W. Mallett, C. W. Jenks, James Orton, William J. McAlpine, Matthew F. Maury, Asa Gray, William R. Galt, Andrew H. Russell, Wolcott Gibbs, T. H. Huxley, James Mcfarlane, and Henry Wadsworth. A letter from Booker T. Washington to Emma Savage Rogers was transferred from the MIT Museum in 1997 and added to box 8 of the collection in 2007.

Geology

During his years as a teacher at the College of William and Mary and later at the University of Virginia, William Barton Rogers lectured on a variety of subjects, including physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and natural history. His professional interest in geology seems to date from Henry Darwin Rogers’s first trip to England during the winter of 1832-33. Having secured positions as leaders of state geological surveys, William Barton Rogers in Virginia and Henry Darwin Rogers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the two brothers worked closely for several years.

Their combined efforts in fieldwork and interpretation of data led to their theory of the origin of the Appalachian Mountains, first articulated at the meeting of the American Association of Geologists and Naturalists in 1842. The theory was controversial from the moment of its presentation to the scientific community, and modern geologists have completely rejected it.

Although the Rogers theory failed to gain acceptance, their meticulously accurate fieldwork is still recognized as a major contribution to geology, and the controversial theory, along with the fieldwork, made the Rogers brothers well-known among geologists of the nineteenth century. In this light, the almost complete lack of field notes in the Rogers papers is disappointing.

Scientific papers in the collection include William Barton Rogers's notes on published articles on various topics, drafts of his own articles, and a draft of a textbook, as well as correspondence with other scientists. The scientific papers are more substantial after about 1858, by which time William Barton Rogers had settled in Boston. After Life and Letters had been published, Rogers widow, Emma Savage Rogers, donated letters and books on geology relating to the state geological survey to the Virginia State Library.

Scientific Societies

In addition to strictly scientific activities, William Barton Rogers's correspondence and other papers reflect his involvement with developing scientific societies, among them the National Academy of Sciences, the American Social Science Association, and the American Association of Geologists and Naturalists, which later became the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Rogers served terms as president of the American Association of Geologists and Naturalists in 1847, president of the American Social Science Association beginning in 1865, and president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1879 to 1882. Because of his involvement with these and other scientific societies, Rogers's papers include correspondence with Alexander Dallas Bache, Spencer Fullerton Baird, O. C. Marsh, Simon Newcomb, H. C. Williams, F. W. Putnam, James Hall, F. B. Sanborn, Joseph Henry, J. S. Newberry, Gamaliel Bradford, Otto Struve, Edward Burgess, Weir Mitchell, and Samuel Scudder. The documentation of Rogers's term as president of the National Academy of Sciences is particularly complete, and includes notes for meetings, drafts of proceedings, copies of committee reports, and circular letters as well as general correspondence.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

From 1860 to 1870, and again from 1875 until William Barton Rogers's death, the collection is dominated by papers relating to the foundation, organization, and administration of MIT. Documents relating to the initial organization of the school include lists of people to whom information about the new school should be sent, subscription records of donors, informal memoranda on meetings, drafts of the memorials to the legislature, and correspondence among those in the community who supported the development of the school. The book Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT, by Julius A. Stratton and Loretta Mannix, as well as Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, will enhance understanding of the finding aid and the collection.

Rogers is recognized as the founder of MIT, and from 1862 until 1870, and again from 1879 until 1881, he served as president of the Institute. The collection includes correspondence with students, prospective students, faculty, and officials of the Institute. Because of Rogers's role as primary administrator, letters of application from prospective faculty members, letters of recommendation, bills, accounts, and student petitions also appear in the Rogers papers. Subseries C of series 2, Documents related to the founding of MIT is an important source of information about the early years of MIT. Drafts of reports and correspondence on these events are also found in series 1, which is arranged chronologically.

In 1870, Rogers retired from the presidency of MIT because of poor health. There are few papers dating from the 1870s, although Rogers's successor to the presidency, John Daniel Runkle, kept him informed of Institute affairs. In 1878, Runkle resigned and in December 1879 Rogers became president of MIT for the second time. Correspondence among Rogers, Runkle, and President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard on the subject of the proposed merger is extant in the collection. At the same time, MIT was searching for a successor to Rogers, who had agreed to serve only until a new president could be found. Francis Amasa Walker was chosen to succeed Rogers, and correspondence between the two men about the mechanics of the change of office is also in the collection.
James Savage The collection includes a relatively small but still substantial amount of correspondence to and from James Savage, the father of Emma Savage Rogers and father-in-law of William B. Rogers. The letters chiefly concern Savage's political, business,and personal pusuits in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The earliest letter in the collection (1804) is correspondence with his Harvard University classmate Lewis Strong. Some letters and materials relate to his research for his book The Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, published in 1860. For that he corresponded with officials in England and also visited England in person. There is correspondence with Robert Lemon, the Clerk of the State Paper Office in London. There is fuller information about James Savage's life and work at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where he was an active member and served as Librarian, Treasurer, and President. treasurer.

Dates

  • 1804 - 1950
  • Majority of material found within 1834 - 1882

Creator

Access note

This collection is open.

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 donor of the collection.

Historical note

Founding of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1846 March 13
William B. Rogers in a letter to his brother outlines a "Plan for a Polytechnic School in Boston."
1859 March 30
A memorial is written by Dr. Samuel Kneeland petitioning the 1859 Massachusetts legislature for a grant of land for a Conservatory of Art and Science. Issued as House document no. 260, it is not approved.
1859 summer
William B. Rogers on behalf of a committee representing various associations prepares a memorial for the 1860 Massachusetts legislature setting forth a plan for an Institute of Technology. It is issued as House document no. 13, but is not approved.
1860 summer
William B. Rogers is asked again to prepare a plan, resulting in the document Objects and Plan of an Institute of Technology. Objects and Plan is accepted by the Committee of Associated Institutions, read at a meeting of the Boston Board of Trade, and submitted to the Massachusetts legislature.
1861 January 7
Circular letter announces a meeting for the purpose of organizing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
1861 January 11
Per circular letter and led by William Barton Rogers, a meeting of persons interested in establishing an Institute of Technology is held in Boston. An "Act of Association" is adopted.
1861 March 19
Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Education of the Massachusetts legislature on the Memorial of the Associated Institutions is issued as House document 171. William B. Rogers prepared the report.
1861 April 10
The Massachusetts legislature passes and Governor John Andrew signs "An Act to Incorporate the Massachusetts Institute of Technology" (Acts 1861, chapter 183).
1861 April 12
Civil War begins.
1861
An Account of the Proceedings Preliminary to the Organization of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is published.
1862 April 8
An initial meeting is held to accept the charter, adopt bylaws, and choose officers to serve until the Government of the Institute is formally elected.
1862 December 17
First public meeting of the Society of Arts, one of three branches of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposed in the charter
1864 May 30
Scope and Plan of the School of Industrial Science of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is adopted by the Corporation as the foundation of the Institute's educational philosophy, and the document is published.
1862 May 6
The Government (later known as the Corporation) of MIT is formally elected at the first Annual Meeting of the 54 incorporators. William Barton Rogers is elected president.
1865 February 20
First course of instruction begins with fifteen students. Classes are held at the Mercantile Building, Summer Street, Boston.
1868
First class of students graduates.

Biography

William Barton Rogers was one of four sons of Patrick Kerr Rogers and Hannah Blythe Rogers/The eldest of his brothers, James Blythe Rogers, was trained as a physician, but spent most of his life as a professor of chemistry. Henry Darwin Rogers made his primary scientific contributions in the field of geology, and the youngest brother, Robert Empie Rogers, was a professor of chemistry and physician. Throughout their lives, the four brothers worked in close conjunction in their scientific endeavors, with the result that a description of one brother’s achievements in incomplete without some account of the others’ activities.

Best known as founder and first President of M.I.T., William Barton Rogers began his career as Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at the College of William and Mary and later taught natural philosophy at the University of Virginia. WBR also served as State Geologist of Virginia and led the first Geological Survey of the state. At about the same time, Henry Darwin Rogers was State Geologist of New Jersey and State Geologist of Pennsylvania. Although WBR taught many facets of natural history, he made significant contributions in geology, and his articles were often co-authored by Henry David Rogers. In June 1849, William Rogers married Emma Savage of Boston, and in 1853, the couple moved to Boston. Supported by the scientific community of Boston, Rogers brought to life his conception of technical and scientific education, and largely through his efforts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was incorporated in 1861. William Barton Rogers served as President of M.I.T. from the first meeting of the incorporators in 1862 until 1870, then served a second term as President from 1878 until 1881. He died in 1882 an is buried in the James Savage plot in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The youngest of the Rogers family members represented in this collection of papers is William Barton Rogers II, who was a son of James Blythe Rogers and was named in honor of his uncle. William B. Rogers, II, was exposed early to the scientific activities of his father and uncles, who encouraged him to seek a career in science. Although he maintained an amateur interest in science, William B. Rogers, II, turned to a career in banking and served the Western Savings Fund Society of Philadelphia for thirty years.

Rogers family chronology

1802 February 11
James Blythe Rogers (brother) is born.
1804 December 7
William Barton Rogers is born.
1808 August 1
Henry Darwin Rogers (brother) is born.
1812
The Rogers family moves to Baltimore, Maryland.
1813 March 29
Robert Empie Rogers (brother) is born.
1819
Patrick Kerr Rogers (father) is appointed professor of natural history and chemistry at the College of William and Mary, and the family moves to Williamsburg.
1819-1824
William Barton Rogers attends the College of William and Mary. It is unclear whether he ever actually graduated from the college.
1820
Hannah Blythe Rogers (mother) dies.
1822
James Blythe Rogers receives the MD degree from the University of Maryland and begins practicing medicine in Pennsylvania.
1825
William Barton Rogers and Henry Darwin Rogers move to Baltimore.
1826
William Barton Rogers and Henry Darwin Rogers open a school in Windsor, Maryland. Their brother Robert is among their pupils.
1827
James Blythe Rogers becomes professor of chemistry at Washington Medical College, Baltimore.
1827
William Barton Rogers gives a course of lectures at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore.
1828
Patrick Kerr Rogers dies. William Barton Rogers is chosen to fill his father's position as professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the College of William and Mary.
1830
James Blythe Rogers marries Rachel Smith of Baltimore.
1830
William Barton Rogers assumes teaching duties in mathematics in addition to his other duties at the College of William and Mary.
1830
Henry Darwin Rogers becomes professor of chemistry and natural philosophy at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. While at Dickinson, he also edits a periodical entitled "The Messenger of Useful Knowledge."
1832-1833
Henry Darwin Rogers spends the winter in London, where he becomes acquainted with members of the Geological Society of London and other scientists. His impressions of the development of science in Europe are communicated in letters to his brothers.
1833
William Barton Rogers is elected a correspondent of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.
1833 December 17
William Barton Rogers 2nd is born (nephew of William Barton Rogers, son of James Blythe Rogers).
circa 1833-1835
Henry Darwin Rogers lectures on geology for the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.
1834
William Barton Rogers writes his first important scientific publications, the results of his observations of Virginia's greensand and marl.
1835
William Barton Rogers is chosen as a member of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
1835
William Barton Rogers is elected a member of the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society of Richmond.
1835
William Barton Rogers is appointed to the chair of natural philosophy at the University of Virginia and moves to Charlottesville. Most summers are spent in fieldwork for the geological surveys.
1835-1839
James Blythe Rogers is professor of chemistry in the Medical Department of the University of Cincinnati.
1835-1840
Henry Darwin Rogers leads the New Jersey Geological Survey and publishes a report and a map of the state.
1835-1846
Henry Darwin Rogers is professor of geology and mineralogy at the University of Pennsylvania.
1835-1848
William Barton Rogers serves as state geologist of Virginia. He is assisted in fieldwork by his brothers.
1836
Robert Empie Rogers graduates from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania.
1836-1856
Henry Darwin Rogers is head of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey.
1840
William Barton Rogers, Henry Darwin Rogers, and Robert Empie Rogers participate in founding the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, the parent organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
1840
James Blythe Rogers moves to Philadelphia, where he assists William Barton Rogers in field and lab work and lectures on medicine.
1841
James Blythe Rogers is appointed professor of chemistry at the Medical Institute of Philadelphia.
1842
William Barton Rogers and Henry Darwin Rogers present a paper on their theory of the structure of the Appalachian Mountain chain before the third annual meeting of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists in Boston.
1842
William Barton Rogers and Henry Darwin Rogers are elected honorary members of the Boston Society of Natural History.
1842
Robert Empie Rogers becomes professor of applied chemistry and materia medica at the University of Virginia.
1843
Robert Empie Rogers marries Fanny Montgomery.
1844
William Barton Rogers and Henry Darwin Rogers are elected foreign members of the Geological Society of London.
1844
William Barton Rogers is elected a member of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, Copenhagen.
1844-1845
William Barton Rogers serves as chairman of the faculty of the University of Virginia.
1844-1847
James Blythe Rogers is professor of chemistry at the Franklin Institute.
1845
William Barton Rogers is elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
1846
In response to Henry Darwin Rogers's request, William Barton Rogers writes A Plan for a Polytechnic School in Boston, a plan the brothers hoped would be funded by the Lowell Institute. The terms of the Lowell will did not allow the plan to be funded.
1846
Robert Empie Rogers publishes a textbook on chemistry.
1847
James Blythe Rogers becomes professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.
1848
William Barton Rogers receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia.
1849
James Rogers, uncle of the Rogers brothers, dies.
1849
William Barton Rogers marries Emma Savage of Boston, and the couple take a honeymoon trip to England, Scotland, and Switzerland, then return to Charlottesville in October.
1850
William Barton Rogers 2nd (nephew) enters the University of Virginia.
1852
James Blythe Rogers dies in Philadelphia. His position as professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania is filled by Robert Empie Rogers. William Barton Rogers II returns to Philadelphia; he never resumes his study at the University of Virginia
1852-1857?
William Barton Rogers 2nd (nephew) works as an assistant on the Geological Survey of Pennsylvania.
1853
William Barton Rogers resigns his professorship at the University of Virginia and moves to Boston, where he delivers several courses of public lectures.
1854
Henry Darwin Rogers marries Eliza Lincoln, a half-sister of Emma Savage Rogers.
1856
Robert Empie Rogers is elected dean of the medical faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.
1857
Henry Darwin Rogers is awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Dublin.
1857
William Barton Rogers travels to Great Britain for his health and attends a meeting of the British Association in Dublin.
1857
Henry Darwin Rogers becomes Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
1859
William Barton Rogers receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College of William and Mary.
1861
William Barton Rogers is appointed state inspector of gas meters and gas for the state of Massachusetts.
1861 April 10
The "Act to Incorporate the Massachusetts Institute of Technology" is passed by the legislature and approved by Governor Andrew.
1862 May 6
At the first Annual Meeting of the Government of the Institute, William Barton Rogers is elected president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
1862 December
William Barton Rogers 2nd is appointed treasurer of the Saving Fund Society of Philadelphia.
1862-1863
Robert Empie Rogers serves as acting assistant surgeon at West Philadelphia Military Hospital.
1863
William Barton Rogers attends the organizational meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. Although he was a charter member of the Academy, he was dropped for lack of attendance and later reinstated.
1863-1869
William Barton Rogers serves as corresponding secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
1864
Robert Empie Rogers and others found the Humboldt Oil Company, which fails in 1873.
1864
William Barton Rogers resigns his office as state inspector of gas meters and gas.
1864-1866
Henry Darwin Rogers serves as president of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow.
1865
William Barton Rogers is elected first president of the newly-organized American Social Science Association.
1866
Robert Empie Rogers marries Delia Saunders.
1866
Henry Darwin Rogers dies in Scotland.
1866
Harvard University confers an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on William Barton Rogers.
1867
William Barton Rogers is appointed commissioner to represent Massachusetts at the Universal Exposition at Paris.
1868
Due to ill health, William Barton Rogers retires from teaching physics at MIT. Professor John Daniel Runkle is appointed as acting president to serve until William Barton Rogers is well enough to resume his administrative duties.
1869
The Rogers Laboratory of Physics is established by Edward C. Pickering and named in honor of William Barton Rogers.
1870
The first proposals of a union of MIT and Harvard are made. William Barton Rogers was consistently opposed to the proposed union.
1870 May 17
William Barton Rogers resigns as president of MIT because of his poor health.
1870 September
William Barton Rogers 2nd becomes a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
1870 October 3
John D. Runkle becomes second president of MIT
1872-1875
Robert Empie Rogers does research aimed at improving metal refining techniques in the US Mint.
1873
James Savage, William Barton Rogers's father-in-law, dies.
1875-1879
Robert Empie Rogers serves as president of the Franklin Institute.
1876
William Barton Rogers is elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
1877
Robert Empie Rogers becomes professor of medical chemistry and toxicology at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.
1878 June 12
John D. Runkle resigns as MIT president
1878 February
William Barton Rogers 2nd is appointed vice president of the Saving Fund of Philadelphia.
1878-1887
William Barton Rogers 2nd is a member of the Board of Directors of the Mercantile Library Company.
1879-1882
William Barton Rogers serves as president of the National Academy of Sciences.
1879 December 10
William Barton Rogers begins a second term as MIT president
1880
The American Association for the Advancement of Science meets in Boston, and William Barton Rogers serves as host chairman.
1880
William Barton Rogers 2nd is chosen a member of the American Philosophical Society.
1881 May
Francis Amasa Walker is formally elected to succeed William Barton Rogers as president of MIT.
1881 November 10
Francis A. Walker takes office as president of MIT.
1882 May 30
William Barton Rogers dies in Boston.
1882 October
William Barton Rogers 2nd is elected one of the Board of Managers of the Saving Fund Society of Philadelphia.
1883
Robert Empie Rogers receives an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
1883
The original building of the Institute is renamed the Rogers Building in honor of William Barton Rogers.
1883
The highest mountain in Virginia is named Mt. Rogers in honor of William Barton Rogers.
1884
Robert Empie Rogers dies.
1887
William Barton Rogers 2nd becomes a member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
1893 January
William Barton Rogers 2nd is elected one of the Board of Trustees of the Building Fund of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and secretary of the Board.
1893 March 15
William Barton Rogers 2nd dies.
1896
Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, edited by Emma Savage Rogers with the assistance of William Thompson Sedgwick, is published.
1911
Emma Savage Rogers dies.
William Barton Rogers was one of four sons of Patrick Kerr Rogers and Hannah Blythe Rogers. The eldest of his brothers, James Blythe Rogers, was trained as a physician, but spent most of his life as a professor of chemistry. Henry Darwin Rogers made his primary scientific contributions in the field of geology, and the youngest brother, Robert Empie Rogers, was a professor of chemistry and physician. Throughout their lives, the four brothers worked in close conjunction in their scientific endeavors, with the result that a description of one brother’s achievements is incomplete without some account of the others’ activities.

William B. Rogers married Emma Savage of Boston, Massachusetts (born March 4, 1824 and died May 18, 1911) in 1849.

Best known as founder and first president of MIT, William Barton Rogers began his career as professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the College of William and Mary and later taught natural philosophy at the University of Virginia. He also served as state geologist of Virginia and led the first Geological Survey of the state. At about the same time, Henry Darwin Rogers was state geologist of New Jersey and state geologist of Pennsylvania. Although Willam Rogers taught many facets of natural philosophy and chemistry, he made significant contributions in geology, and his articles were often co-authored by his brother Henry. In 1849 after William Rogers married Emma Savage in Boston, they lived in Virginia, but later in 1853 the couple moved to back to Boston. Supported by the scientific community of Boston, Rogers brought to life his conception of a dual theoretical and technical scientific education, and largely through his efforts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was incorporated in 1861. William Barton Rogers served as President of MIT from the first meeting of the incorporators in 1862 until 1870, then served a second term as president from 1879 until 1881. He died in 1882 and is buried in the James Savage plot in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The youngest of the Rogers family members represented in this collection of papers is William Barton Rogers 2nd, who was a son of James Blythe Rogers and was named in honor of his uncle. William B. Rogers 2nd, was exposed early to the scientific activities of his father and uncles, who encouraged him to seek a career in science. Although he maintained an amateur interest in science, William B. Rogers 2nd, turned to a career in banking and served the Western Savings Fund Society of Philadelphia for thirty years.

James Savage

James Savage, 1784-1873, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in 1803. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1807. In 1816 he helped found the Provident Institution for Savings, and in 1823 married Elizabeth Lincoln. Savage was an active member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, serving as treasurer. He worked for many years, including conducting research in Great Britain for his book Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, which was published in 1860.

In June 1849 his daughter Emma Savage married William Barton Rogers, future founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Extent

5 Cubic Feet (14 manuscript boxes, 1 flat box, 1 oversize enclosure)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection contains the personal correspondence of William Barton Rogers, the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Family and professional correspondence, notes, articles, lectures, clippings, and drafts of articles on scientific topics, documents relating his philosophy on science and technology education, and many antecedent documents relating to the establishment and early years of MIT are included.

An important part of the collection is drafts of documents prepared during Rogers's efforts to establish a new kind of scientific Institute and to organize the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which was formally incorporated on April 10, 1861, in Boston, Massachusetts. Later documents relate to the development of the educational curriculum, finances, faculty, and facilities of the Institute. There are also papers relating to Rogers' term as president of the National Academy of Sciences, and his involvement with the American Social Science Association and the American Association of Geologists and Naturalists (later the American Association for the Advancement of Science).

Custodial history note

The collection is an aggregate of papers given to the MIT Libraries between 1941 and 1978, and a small number of items donated or transferred to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) since 1978. It is probable that most of the Rogers papers were given to the MIT Libraries by Emma Savage Rogers after the 1896 publication of Life and Letters, two volumes of selected letters of William Barton Rogers that she edited with the assistance of William T. Sedgwick. Many of the documents bear editorial markings, and some typed manuscripts of letters, annotated in Emma Savage Rogers's hand are also among the papers. Additional items were initially cataloged into the Libraries book collection, and were relocated and placed with this collection when it was formally processed in 1978 and 1979.

Location of originals

The original charter (Act to Incorporate the Massachusetts Instiute of Technology) is located at the Massachusetts State Archives.

Location of Copies - Digitization

Scope and Plan - digitized

2009
Scope and Plan was digitized in 2009; individual pages are in TIF and JPG file formats. There is also a combined PDF file of the publication.
2009
Objects and Plan of an Institute of Technology; including A Society of Arts, a Museum of Arts, and a School of Industrial Science. 1860. was digitized in 2009. Digital files of individual pages (TIF) as well as a combined PDF are available.

Related archival materials

COLLECTIONS AT MIT

MC 2
Rogers family papers, 1811-1904
MC 3
William Barton Rogers II papers, 1817-1919
MC 7
John D. Runkle papers, 1853-1880
AC 278
MIT Corporation minutes, 1862-

COLLECTIONS AT OTHER INSTITUTIONS

The Library of Virginia
Virginia Geological Survey, Records, 1834-1903. Accession 24815, State Government Records Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, USA.
Historical Society of Philadelphia
Papers
National Academy of Sciences Archives
Records
Houghton Library, Harvard University
Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, MS Am 2346 (1896) Contract for Life and Letters
Houghton Library, Harvard University
Emma Savage Journal, MS Am 2562 (March-July 1836)
Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts
James Savage, MS N-230, N-231, S-43)

Select Bibliography

  • Carson, J. Memoir of the Life and Character of James B. Rogers.1852.
  • “Tribute to Prof. William Barton Rogers on his Resignation as President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." The Boston Daily Advertiser, June 2, 1870.
  • Tribute in the Boston Daily Transcript, June 1, 1870.
  • Walker, Francis Amasa. “Sketch of Prof. William B. Rogers.” Popular Science Monthly 9 (September 1876): 606-611.
  • "Memoir of the Hon. James Savage, LL.D., Late President of the Massachusetts Historical Society." Boston: Press of John Wilson and Son, 1878.
  • Walker, Francis Amasa. “Sketch of Prof. William B. Rogers.” Philadelphia Press, May 31, 1882.
  • [Obituary of] Prof. W. B. Rogers. Nature 26 (June 22, 1882): 182-183.
  • M.I.T. Society of Arts. “In Memory of William Barton Rogers, LL.D., Late President of the Society.” Boston, 1882. At the 288th meeting of the MIT Society of the Arts on October 12, 1882, held to memorialize William Barton Rogers, the following persons presented eulogies: MIT President Francis Amasa Walker, p. 3-4; Prof. W. P. Atkinson, p. 5-7; James P. Tolman, President of the MIT Alumni Association, p. 7-9; Dr. John Daniel Runkle, p. 10-21; Prof. C. R. Cross, p. 22-26; Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, p. 26-35; Letter from W. L. Brown, p. 35-36; Letter from Prof. Francis H. Smith p. 36-39.
  • Rives, William Cabell. “William Barton Rogers, LL.D.: An Address Delivered before the Society of the Alumni of the University of Virginia, on Commencement Day, June 27, 1883.” Cambridge, Mass.: John Wilson and Son, 1883.
  • Ruschenberger, W. S. W. “A Sketch of the Life of Robert E. Rogers, M.D., LL.D., with Biographical Notices of his Father and Brothers” [with cover titled “The Brothers Rogers”]. Philadelphia: McCalla and Stavely, printers, 1885. American Academy of Arts and Sciences 18 (1883): 428-438. American Philosophical Society 23 (1886): 104-146.
  • Cooke, Josiah Parsons. “Notice of William Barton Rogers, Founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 18 (1883): 426-438. Reprinted Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, 1883.
  • M.I.T. “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Memory of Prof. William Barton Rogers, LL.D., Late President.” Boston, Mass.: M.I.T., 1883.[This reprint, which is in the M.I.T. Distinctive Collections, contains the resolution of the Corporation and the announcement: “That the original building of the Institute of Technology be called hereafter the ‘Rogers Building’ in recognition of the eminent services of Professor William B. Rogers…”]
  • Wilder: M. P. “Address at the 1883 Annual Meeting.” New England Historic and Genealogical Register 37 (1883): 130. [Reference is made to W. B. Rogers’s death.]
  • Holland, J. W. “A Eulogy on the Life and Character of Prof. Robert E. Rodgers [sic], M.D.” Introductory to the course of 1885-86 at Jefferson Medical College, delivered September 30, 1885. Philadelphia: Press of W. F. Fell and Co., 1885.
  • Walker, Francis Amasa. “Biographical Memoir of William Barton Rogers, 1804-1882.” Read before the National Academy [of Sciences], April 1887. Washington, D. C.: Judd and Detweiler, Printers, 1887. [See also National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs 3 (1895): 1-13.
  • "Rogers, William Barton." National Cyclopaedia of American Biography 7 (1892): 410. [Original: New York: James T. White & Co., 1892. Reprint Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1967.]
  • Rogers, Emma Savage, ed., with the assistance of William T. Sedgwick. Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers. 2 vols. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1896.
  • Mendenhall, T. C. “Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers” [review]. Science 6 (1897): 1-9.
  • Ritchie, John, Jr. “The American Association for the Advancement of Science.” New England Magazine 18, no. 6 (1898): 638-661. [Tells of Rogers’s part in founding and guiding the A.A.A.S.]
  • Smith, Harriet Knight. The History of the Lowell Institute. Boston: Lamson, Wolffe and Co., 1898. [Lists lectures by William B. and Henry D. Rogers.]
  • Benjamin, M. Early Presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [Annual Address]. Easton: Chemical Publishing Company, 1899. Also A.A.A.S. 48 (1899): 379-459.
  • Tyler, H. W. “John Daniel Runkle (1822-1902).” Technology Review 4, no. 3 (July 1902): 276-306. Reprinted as “John Daniel Runkle (1822-1902): A Memorial.” Boston: George H. Ellis Co., 1902.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology: A Brief Account of Its Foundation, Character, and Equipment. Boston, Mass.: published by the Institute for use at the St. Louis Exposition, 1904.
  • The Tech. The issue of The Tech for December 7, 1904 (vol. 24, no. 31) carried seven short articles by early MIT alumni, who recalled interesting incidents involving Rogers and the beginnings of the Institute. Eli Forbes, class of 1868 – “A story of President Rogers,” p. 1 and 3; James Phinney Munroe, class of 1882 – “Life of William Barton Rogers,” p. 1 and 4; Robert. Hallowell Richards, class of 1868 – “Beginnings of the Institute of Technology,” p. 1, 2, and 4; Charles Robert Cross, class of 1870 – “Some reminiscences of President Rogers,” p. 2; James Pike Tolman, class of 1868 – “The human side of President Rogers,” p. 3;Anonymous – “An appreciation of the heroism of William Barton Rogers,” p. 3; Anonymous – “President Rogers and the Appalachian Club,” p. 3.
  • Munroe, James P. “William Barton Rogers, Founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Technology Review 6, no. 4 (1904): 501-550. Reprinted Boston: Geo. H. Ellis Co., Printers, 1904. [This article contains excellent pictures of the buildings in Boston that were used by M.I.T. in its earliest decades.]
  • Smith, F. H. “William Barton Rogers, As Seen by an Old Pupil.” Supplement to The Tech 24, no. 35 (December 16, 1904).
  • Supplement to The Tech 24, no. 35 (December 16, 1904), 2 p.
  • Centennial Commemoration of William Barton Rogers 1804-1904, held in Huntington Hall, Rogers Building [MIT] on December 7, 1904, 25 p., including addresses by Henry S. Pritchett, President of MIT, (p. 3-7); Lyon G. Tyler, President, William and Mary College (p. 7-11); Francis H. Smith, Professor of Natural History, University of Virginia, (p. 11-16) ; Robert H. Richards, MIT class of 1868, Professor of Mining Engineering and Metallurgy, MIT, (p. 16-20); and Norman Lombard, MIT class of 1905, who read an extract from Francis Amasa Walker's "Memoir of William Barton Rogers" presented to the National Academy [of Sciences] in April 1887, (p. 20-25). Technology Review 7, no 1 (1905): 26-48. Reprinted Boston: Geo. H. Ellis Co.1905.
  • Merrill, G. P. “Contributions to the History of American Geology.” U.S. Nat. Mus., Rp. 1904: 189-734, il., (1906). [Rogers is mentioned on p. 341-344, 369-373, 402-405, and 710.]
  • True, F. W., ed. The National Academy of Sciences, 1863-1913 [a history of the first half-century of the National Academy of Sciences]. Washington, D.C.: Baltimore Press, 1913. [Rogers is mentioned on p. 21, 48, 61, 176-178, 272, 280, 286, and 293. Both William Barton and Robert Empie Rogers were corporators of the Academy when it was incorporated on April 22, 1863.]
  • “When We Were Freshmen.” Technology Review 16 (1914): 571-581.
  • Richards, Robert H., class of 1868. “When We Were Freshmen.” Technology Review 16 (1914): 574-577.
  • Munroe, James P. “William Barton Rogers, The Founder.” Technology Review 17 (1915): 1-6.
  • Gregory, J. W. [with Bibliography by Colin M. Leitch.] “Henry Darwin Rogers: An Address to the Glasgow University Geological Society.” Glasgow: James MacLehose and Sons, Publishers to the University, January 20, 1916.
  • Mann, C. R. A Study of Engineering Education. New York: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1918.
  • Dana, E. S., and 14 other authors. A Century of Science in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1918. [Of special interest regarding the contributions of Henry D. and William B. Rogers is Part IV: “A Century of Geology - The Growth of Knowledge of Earth Structure,” by Joseph Barrell, p. 153-192.]
  • Merrill, G. P. “Contribution to a History of American State Geological and Natural History Surveys.” U.S. Nat. Mus. B. 109 (1920). [See p. 507-512.]
  • Merrill, G. P. The First One Hundred Years of American Geology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924. [Rogers is mentioned on p. 183, 185, 218, 222, 249-250, 258, 377, 397, and 398.]
  • City of Boston (School Committee). [In the Rep. Boston School Committee for December 3, 1928 (p. 294), appears the following: “ORDERED, That the Hyde Park Intermediate School located in the former Hyde Park High School building is hereby named the William Barton Rogers School…”
  • Hitchcock, L. B. “A Memorial to Rogers - The Founder of the Institute is Honored at the University of Virginia.” Technology Review 33, no. 5 (February 1931): 245, 258, 260.
  • Eby, J. B. 23rd International Geological Congress, Prague, August 1968. American Association for Petroleum Geology, B. 53 (1968): 236-240 (1968). [See also Rept. XVI Session, I.G.C., Vol. I and II, U.S.A., 1933]
  • Adams, F. D. “Sir Charles Lyell - His Place in Geological Science and His Contributions to the Geology of North America.” Science 78 (September 1, 1933): 179-183. [On page 182 Adams quotes Lyell as doubting the Rogers theory of origin for the folded Appalachians.]
  • Ricketts, P. C. [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]. Amos Eaton, Author, Teacher, Investigator: The First Laboratories for the Systematic Individual Work of Students in Chemistry, Physics, and Botany to be Created in any Country, Established at Rensselaer School by Amos Eaton in 1824: B. Franklin Greene and the Reorganization in 1849-50. Troy, 1933.
  • “Rogers, William Barton.” Dictionary of American Biography 16 (1935): 115-116.
  • Bevan, Arthur. “William Barton Rogers: First State Geologist of Virginia (1835-1841).” [In commemoration of the centennial of the appointment of Rogers as State Geologist and the creation of the first Geological Survey of Virginia.] Presented to the Virginia Academy of Science, Geological Section, Richmond Meeting, May 3, 1935. Virginia Academy of Science 63-67 (1934-1935).
  • Roberts, Joseph. Kent. "William Barton Rogers and his contributions to the geology of Virginia," read before the National Academy of Sciences at the University of Virginia Meeting on Tuesday, November 19, 1935. American Philosophical Society Miscellanea (photocopy) 1, no. 2 (1936): 65-68.
  • Roberts, Joseph Kent. "William Barton Rogers (1804-1882) and his contributions to the geology of Virginia." Proceedings of the Geological Society of America. (1935): 305-310. Published 1936.
  • Bevan, Arthur. “William Barton Rogers -- Pioneer State Geologist.” Presented before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Section E, William Barton Rogers Memorial Program, Richmond [Va.] Meeting, December 28, 1938. [Typescript of 13 pages preserved in the Manuscript Department, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va..]
  • Bryan, J. S. “William Barton Rogers -- Organizer and Educator.” Presented before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Section E, William Barton Rogers Memorial Program, Richmond [Va.] Meeting, December 28, 1938. [Typescript of 13 pages preserved in the Manuscript Department, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va..]
  • Roberts, Joseph Kent. “William Barton Rogers -- Student and Teacher” [of geology]. Read at the Richmond [Va.] Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1938. [A typescript of 7 pages preserved in the Manuscript Department, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
  • Ewing, Galen W. "Early teaching of science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia." Bulletin of the College of William and Mary 32, no. 4 (April 1938)
  • Roberts, J. K., and Bloomer, R. O. Catalogue of Topographic and Geologic Maps of Virginia. Richmond, 1939. [“Dedication to William Barton Rogers,” p. 16-17; “An Account of the Work of Prof. Rogers for the Geological Survey of Virginia,” p. 10-11; “Table of Geological Formations of Virginia and West Virginia by William Barton Rogers, pp. 221-222.]
  • Bevan, Arthur. "William Barton Rogers, Pioneer American Scientist." Science Monthly 50, no. 2 (1940): 110-124.
  • Butts, Charles [prepared in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey]. Geology of the Appalachian Valley in Virginia. 2 vols. University of Virginia, 1940, 1941. [Issued in commemoration of William Barton Rogers. Virginia Geological Survey, B. 52: Pt. I - Geologic Text and Illustrations (1940); Pt. II - Fossil Plates and Explanations (1941).
  • Roberts, J. K. “Biographical Sketches of Virginia Geologists.” J. K. Roberts’ Annontated Geological Bibliography of Virginia 1942: 28-63.
  • Willis, B. “American Geology, 1850-1900.” American Philosophical Society 86 (1943): 34-44.
  • Jaffe, B. Men of Science in America: The Role of Science in the Growth of Our Country. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944.
  • Struik, D. J. Yankee Science in the Making. New York: Colier Books, 1948. (Revised edition 1962). [Comments on the Rogers brothers, especially on p. 436-441.]
  • Rodgers, John. “Evolution of Thought on Structure of Middle and Southern Appalachians.” American Association for Petroleum Geology 33 (1949):1643-1654.
  • Prescott, Samuel C. When M.I.T. was “Boston Tech” 1861-1916. Cambridge, Mass.: The Technology Press, 1954.
  • Killian, James R., Jr. “William Barton Rogers.” Technology Review 60 (December 1957): 105-108, 124, 126, 128, 130.
  • Woodward, H. P. “Reappraisal of Appalachian Geology.” American Association for Petroleum Geology 45 (1961): 1625-1655.
  • "William Barton Rogers" [A leaflet prepared for an exhibit shown in the Hayden Library during the International Conference on the Earth Sciences, held in conjunction with the Dedication of the Cecil and Ida Green Building on October 2, 1964. Typescript in M.I.T. Distinctive Collections.]
  • Stratton, Julius A. “The New Academy of Engineering - An Address Given this Spring [1965] at a Dinner in Washington [D.C.] of Special Interest to Many M.I.T. Alumni.” Technology Review 67, no. 9 (July 1965): 41-44. [Contains comments on Rogers and his ideas about the founding of the National Academy of Sciences.] Later published as “Advice to a New Academy - The Engineering Academy, Founded on the Same Principles as the NAS [National Academy of Sciences], Faces Difficult, Important Tasks.” Science 149 (September 10, 1965): 1206-1208.
  • Berl, W. G. “Out of the Ivory Tower.” Science 166 (December 19, 1969): 1553. [Reprinted in Boston magazine (December 1969)].
  • Rodgers, John. The Tectonics of the Appalachians. New York: Wiley-Interscience, 1970.
  • Milici, R. C. “Structural Patterns in the Southern Appalachians: Evidence for a Gravity Slide Mechanism for Alleghanian Deformation.” Geological Society of America 86 (September 1975): 1316-1320.
  • Rodgers, John. “Rogers, William Barton.” Dictionary of Scientific Biography. vol. 11, p. 504-506. Charles C. Gillespie, ed. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975.
  • Wylie, Francis E. M.I.T. in Perspective: A Pictorial History of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1976.
  • Shrock, Robert R. "William Barton Rogers," p. 99-214, in Geology at M.I.T.: A History of the First Hundred Years of Geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vol. 1, The Faculty and Supporting Staff. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1977.
  • Beetham, George E., Jr. “William B. Rogers: A Man and a Mountain.” Appalachian Trailway News (May/June 1984).
  • “William Barton Rogers,” in The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed., 2001.
  • Stratton, Julius A., and Loretta H. Mannix. Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005.
  • Angulo, Alex J. William Barton Rogers and the Idea of MIT. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2008
  • Alexander, Philip N. A Widening Sphere: Evolving Cultures at MIT. Chapter 1. “A Future Full of Promise.” Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.
Title
Guide to the Papers of William Barton Rogers
Subtitle
1804-1950
Status
Ready For Review
Author
Karen T. Lynch; Sara Powell; Elizabeth Andrews; Kari Smith
Date
copyright 1977; updated 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Funding from the Brotherton Foundation helped to support the creation of this guide in 1977. Updates and the correspondence listing was accomplished with support from the ARL/Society of American Archivists Mosaic Fellowship program for Library and Information Professionals 2014-16.

Repository Details

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