The MIT General Collection tells the social and cultural history of MIT since its founding in 1861, including student and faculty life as well as MIT’s role in the development of science, technology, and engineering.

Photographs and archives in the MIT General Collection broadly chronicle and depict the history of science and technology from the mid 19th century to the present. Subjects include past faculty members and students, student life, hacks, events, departmental histories, and campus development.

An extensive collection of files contains photographs and biographical information on more 8,000 former and current MIT faculty, staff, and students, including formal portraits and images documenting their work as well as informal shots. It includes all MIT presidents; MIT faculty members who had a significant impact both at MIT and in science and technology, such as Vannevar Bush, Norbert Wiener, and Claude Shannon; and notable MIT students such as Robert R. Taylor (Class of 1892), the first black student to attend MIT.

This collection includes film and video footage from the 1920s through the 1980s, covering topics such as fraternity life, alumni reunions, faculty interviews, and audio of speeches, interviews, and MIT events.

The memorabilia collection reflects a range of student and faculty life across history and departments. It includes objects such as trophies, buttons, T-shirts, invitations, and beavers (the school’s mascot) and brass rats (the nickname for the graduating class ring). It also includes official portraits of senior administrative staff and faculty and posters for events ranging from theatrical performances to political demonstrations.

An archive on hacking traces the history of technological tomfoolery and student pranks at MIT. It also includes scrapbooks and personal collections from MIT faculty and alumni.

Featured Items


Unopened box of LEGO "Women of NASA" kit. Blue cardboard…


Display sample of Class of 2011 ring in presentation box.…


Black and white line drawn poster depicting MIT Student Center…

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MIT History Named Collections

Charles H. Woodbury Collection

Charles H. Woodbury entered MIT in 1882 as a student in Course 2, Mechanical Engineering. While carrying the heavy academic load that MIT required (eight courses in his first semester alone), Woodbury continued his lifelong engagement with painting and drawing. He exhibited his work and took on his first painting student while still an undergraduate.…

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