Digitized materials in this online collection form part of the Corporation, records of the Secretary (AC-0131) in the MIT Libraries Department of Distinctive Collections. For more information about the materials, please consult the collection finding aid.

Collection scope and contents:
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was formally incorporated on April 10, 1861, when it was granted a charter to organize in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Acts of 1861, Chapter 183. William Barton Rogers and the other incorporators met on April 8, 1862, to accept the charter and provisions of the Act of Incorporation. John D. Runkle (later from 1870 to 1878, president of MIT) served as secretary pro-tem, while the “government” of MIT was being organized. A set of by-laws was voted on at the April 8, 1862, meeting, and at the second meeting of the Institute in April 22, 1862, an additional vote was taken to have the by-laws and other information printed.

President Rogers and other Institute officers were officially voted as the governing board in the first meeting of all “Members of the Institute” on May 6, 1862, but the position of secretary was not permanently filled until the third meeting of the Government was held on July 15, 1862. At that meeting with J. D. Philbrick acting as secretary pro-tem, the name of Thomas H. Webb was put in nomination for the position of Secretary of the Institute and was unanimously accepted. As secretary, Webb immediately took over responsibility for recording the minutes of the “Government” whose members were organizing the School of Industrial Science, as well as the meetings of the general membership (later specifically known as the Society of Arts). By the time Webb presided as secretary at the fourth meeting of the Government on September 23, 1862, he had issued 500 copies of a 12-page printed publication outlining the basic organization of the Institute including the by-laws. Thomas Webb served as Secretary of the Institute until his death in 1866.

The by-laws outlined in detail the responsibilities of the Secretary, who was designated as an officer of the Institute:

"It shall be the duty of the Secretary to give notice of, and attend, all meetings of the Institute and of the Government; to keep a record of the business and orders of each meeting, and read the same at the next meeting; to conduct the correspondence of the Institute, when not otherwise ordered; to keep a list of the members of the Institute; to collect the assessments and other dues, and pay them over to the Treasurer; to notify officers and members...

In 1870 when the functions of the different memberships and components of the Institute were clarified and the by-laws were revised, the name of the governing body of MIT was changed from Government to Corporation and the secretary was no longer called the Secretary of the Institute but referred to as the Secretary of the Corporation.

On October 1, 1963, a little over a century after the Institute began, an “Office of the Secretary” was set up to better support the administrative functions of the Chair, President, and Secretary of the Corporation.

Currently the Office of the Secretary of the Corporation is responsible for providing support to MIT’s Corporation (governing board) and for the Corporation Visiting Committees that review the status of academic departments and other major activities at the Institute. The Secretary of the Corporation serves as the secretary to the Corporation Membership Committee, Visiting Committees, and the Executive Committee.

Staff serving as Secretary of the Corporation have also had concurrent executive Institute-wide responsibilities and therefore have held titles of Secretary of the Corporation and Vice President..

1859 - 2010

Please note:
Materials in this collection may be under copyright. Please consult the collection finding aid or catalog record and the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for more information.

Please cite the source item title (dc.title), collection title and identifier, and repository.

Example: Cash Book Number 1, 1862 - 1872. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Corporation, records of the Secretary (AC-0131). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections.

Repository details:
Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository https://libraries.mit.edu/distinctive-collections

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