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MIT and Regional Interest

MIT and Regional Interest

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1861–1916

This book is more than formal history. It is a personal report, an essay in interpretation and remembrance which is important both for what it tells about MIT's first half-century and for what it tells about what Dean Prescott found important and interesting in that half-century.

Dean Prescott was associated with the Institute for nearly two thirds of a century. He knew the Institute from the vantage points of student, teacher, department head, dean, alumnus, and parent. He had a formative influence on its policy-making and was an articulate protagonist of the Institute's program and policies.

He viewed MIT's formative years not only with an expert's understanding but out of a deep sense of loyalty and devotion. This book is a testament of faith in an institution, an earnest statement of the author's abiding belief in the staff, students, and alumni he has known.

Dean Prescott's account begins four years before the first instruction was given on February 20, 1865 at "Boston Tech" in the vicinity of Copley Square, Boston and concludes with the Institute's establishment in Cambridge in 1916.

MIT in World War II

The story of MIT's contribution to the war effort, 1939-1945, including the role of MIT scientists in research and development at the national level as well as the activities on the campus.

Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999

This book grew out of the Blacks at MIT History Project, whose mission is to document the black presence at MIT. The main body of the text consists of transcripts of more than seventy-five oral history interviews, in which the interviewees assess their MIT experience and reflect on the role of blacks at MIT and beyond. Although most of the interviewees are present or former students, black faculty, administrators, and staff are also represented, as are nonblack faculty and administrators who have had an impact on blacks at MIT. The interviewees were selected with an eye to presenting the broadest range of issues and personalities, as well as a representative cross section by time period and category.

Each interviewee was asked to discuss family background; education; role models and mentors; experiences of racism and race-related issues; choice of field and career; goals; adjustment to the MIT environment; best and worst MIT experiences; experience with MIT support services; relationships with MIT students, faculty, and staff; advice to present or potential MIT students; and advice to the MIT administration. A recurrent theme is that MIT's rigorous teaching instills the confidence to deal with just about any hurdle in professional life, and that an MIT degree opens many doors and supplies instant credibility.

Each interview includes biographical notes and pictures. The book also includes a general introduction, a glossary, and appendixes describing the project's methodology.

The Charles River Basin, extending nine miles upstream from the harbor, has been called Boston's "Central Park." Yet few realize that this apparently natural landscape is a totally fabricated public space. Two hundred years ago the Charles was a tidal river, edged by hundreds of acres of salt marshes and mudflats. Inventing the Charles River describes how, before the creation of the basin could begin, the river first had to be imagined as a single public space. The new esplanades along the river changed the way Bostonians perceived their city; and the basin, with its expansive views of Boston and Cambridge, became an iconic image of the metropolis.

The book focuses on the precarious balance between transportation planning and stewardship of the public realm. Long before the esplanades were realized, great swaths of the river were given over to industrial enterprises and transportation—millponds, bridges, landfills, and a complex network of road and railway bridges. In 1929, Boston's first major highway controversy erupted when a four-lane road was proposed as part of a new esplanade. At twenty-year intervals, three riverfront road disputes followed, successively more complex and disputatious, culminating in the lawsuits over "Scheme Z," the Big Dig's plan for eighteen lanes of highway ramps and bridges over the river. More than four hundred photographs, maps, and drawings illustrate past and future visions for the Charles and document the river's place in Boston's history.

A History of the Vermont Landscape

In this book Jan Albers examines the historynatural, environmental, social, and ultimately humanof one of America's most cherished landscapes: Vermont. Albers shows how Vermont has come to stand for the ideal of unspoiled rural community, examining both the basis of the state's pastoral image and the equally real toll taken by the pressure of human hands on the land. She begins with the relatively light touch of Vermont's Native Americans, then shows how European settlersarmed with a conviction that their claim to the land was "a God-given right"shaped the landscape both to meet economic needs and to satisfy philosophical beliefs. The often turbulent result: a conflict between practical requirements and romantic ideals that has persisted to this day. Making lively use of contemporary accounts, advertisements, maps, landscape paintings, and vintage photographs, Albers delves into the stories and personalities behind the development of a succession of Vermont landscapes. She observes the growth of communities from tiny settlements to picturesque villages to bustling cities; traces the development of agriculture, forestry, mining, industry, and the influence of burgeoning technology; and proceeds to the growth of environmental consciousness, aided by both private initiative and governmental regulation. She reveals how as community strengthens, so does responsible stewardship of the land. Albers shows that like any landscape, the Vermont landscape reflects the human decisions that have been made about itand that the more a community understands about how such decisions have been made, the better will be its future decisions.

Learning to Think at MIT

This is a personal story of the educational process at one of the world's great technological universities. Pepper White entered MIT in 1981 and received his master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1984. His account of his experiences, written in diary form, offers insight into graduate school life in general—including the loneliness and even desperation that can result from the intense pressure to succeed—and the purposes of engineering education in particular. The first professor White met at MIT told him that it did not really matter what he learned there, but that MIT would teach him how to think. This, then, is the story of how one student learned how to think. There have of course been changes at MIT since 1984, but its essence is still the same. White has added a new preface and concluding chapter to this edition to bring the story of his continuing education up to date.

Edited by Alex Krieger and David Cobb

To the attentive user even the simplest map can reveal not only where things are but how people perceive and imagine the spaces they occupy. Mapping Boston is an exemplar of such creative attentiveness—bringing the history of one of America's oldest and most beautiful cities alive through the maps that have depicted it over the centuries.

The book includes both historical maps of the city and maps showing the gradual emergence of the New England region from the imaginations of explorers to a form that we would recognize today. Each map is accompanied by a full description and by a short essay offering an insight into its context. The topics of these essays by Anne Mackin include people both familiar and unknown, landmarks, and events that were significant in shaping the landscape or life of the city. A highlight of the book is a series of new maps detailing Boston's growth.

The book also contains seven essays that explore the intertwining of maps and history. Urban historian Sam Bass Warner, Jr., starts with a capsule history of Boston. Barbara McCorkle, David Bosse, and David Cobb discuss the making and trading of maps from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Historian Nancy S. Seasholes reviews the city's remarkable topographic history as reflected in maps, and planner Alex Krieger explores the relation between maps and the physical reality of the city as experienced by residents and visitors. In an epilogue, novelist James Carroll ponders the place of Boston in contemporary culture and the interior maps we carry of a city.

1955-1985

Boston played a crucial role in the development of American photography, including criticism, collecting, and curating, in the second half of the twentieth century. This book accompanies a landmark exhibition at the DeCordova Museum that includes such important American artists as Berenice Abbott, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Marie Cosindas, Harold Edgerton, Nan Goldin, Jerome Liebling, Nicholas Nixon, Barbara Norfleet, Olivia Parker, Rosamond Purcell, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White.

The period from 1955 to 1985 reflects photography's acceptance as an art form, the influence of modernism, and the coalescence of a unique constellation of educational institutions, museums, and technological development in the Boston area that directly influenced artistic options for photography. Minor White's arrival at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965 to run the Center for Creative Photography and the Polaroid Corporation's innovative support of photographic art suggest how developments built upon one another to create a regional critical mass in photography.

The book contains twenty-five color plates, sixty duotones, and essays by A. D. Coleman, Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, and Kim Sichel.

Copublished with the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park.

Published in conjunction with the exhibition Photography in Boston: 1955-1985
September 16, 2000 - January 21, 2001.
For more information please call 781-259-8355.

Thirty-Five Years of the Laboratory for Computer Science at MIT


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) has been responsible for some of the most significant technological achievements of the past few decades. Much of the hardware and software driving the information revolution has been, and continues to be, created at LCS. Anyone who sends and receives email, communicates with colleagues through a LAN, surfs the Web, or makes decisions using a spreadsheet is benefiting from the creativity of LCS members.

LCS is an interdepartmental laboratory that brings together faculty, researchers, and students in a broad program of study, research, and experimentation. Their principal goal is to pursue innovations in information technology that will improve people's lives. LCS members have been instrumental in the development of ARPAnet, the Internet, the Web, Ethernet, time-shared computers, UNIX, RSA encryption, the X Windows system, NuBus, and many other technologies.

This book, published in celebration of LCS's thirty-fifth anniversary, chronicles its history, achievements, and continued importance to computer science. The essays are complemented by historical photographs.


Electrical engineering is a protean profession. Today the field embraces many disciplines that seem far removed from its roots in the telegraph, telephone, electric lamps, motors, and generators. To a remarkable extent, this chronicle of change and growth at a single institution is a capsule history of the discipline and profession of electrical engineering as it developed worldwide. Even when MIT was not leading the way, the department was usually quick to adapt to changing needs, goals, curricula, and research programs. What has remained constant throughout is the dynamic interaction of teaching and research, flexibility of administration, the interconnections with industrial progress and national priorities.

The book's text and many photographs introduce readers to the renowned teachers and researchers who are still well known in engineering circles, among them: Vannevar Bush, Harold Hazen, Edward Bowles, Gordon Brown, Harold Edgerton, Ernst Guillemin, Arthur von Hippel, and Jay Forrester.

The book covers the department's major areas of activity—electrical power systems, servomechanisms, circuit theory, communications theory, radar and microwaves (developed first at the famed Radiation Laboratory during World War II), insulation and dielectrics, electronics, acoustics, and computation. This rich history of accomplishments shows moreover that years before "Computer Science" was added to the department's name such pioneering results in computation and control as Vannevar Bush's Differential Analyzer, early cybernetic devices and numerically controlled servomechanisms, the Whirlwind computer, and the evolution of time-sharing computation had already been achieved.

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