MIT Is the Latest University to Explore Its Ties to Slavery

Following in the footsteps of many other colleges and universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is examining its past ties to slavery. The research was done in an undergraduate archival history class and led by Craig Steven Wilder, the Barton L. Weller Professor of History at MIT.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861 and the first classes were not held until 1865 at the end of the Civil War. And slavery was outlawed in Massachusetts in the late 1780s.

However, researchers discovered that the university’s first president – William Barton Rogers – owned slaves while he lived in Virginia. Census documents showed that Rogers had six slaves in the 1850s and two in the 1840s.

L. Rafael Reid, president of MIT, explained that “at MIT, we believe in looking at the facts, even when they’re painful. The next challenge is up to all of us: embracing this opportunity to take a new look at our past, and exploring together how to tell a more complete version of our history.”

A video about the projects may be viewed below.


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