Illustration: Senior Dinner, 1891

Illustration: Senior Dinner, 1891
Courtesy MIT Museum

Student illustration in Technique yearbook, 1891.

The above illustration depicts Senior Dinner in Cotillion Hall. A black cook stirs a cauldron (labelled '89) over a flame blown by a white jester. The ribbon below them quotes Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens": "We are not thieves, but men who [sic] much do want."

The earliest graphic evidence of a black presence at the Institute is found in illustrations of MIT service staff--cooks, waiters, janitorial staff, and the porter service attached to residence halls. Caricatures in student publications (yearbook, newspapers, and "humor" magazines) echo tropes also prevalent in the national media of the time. By 1891, the only black student on record at MIT is Robert R. Taylor, who would graduate a year later.


Timeline: 1890s
Object: Document
Collection: Illustrations, Roots and Exponents 1875-1920, Students, Technique Yearbook