Letter, William B. Rogers to Henry D. Rogers, 1846
MIT founder William Barton Rogers, the second of four brothers, collaborated with his younger brother Henry Darwin Rogers on the original proposal for MIT.
Everyone in the Rogers family was an enthusiast of education. Patrick Rogers and his three sons were all teachers and founders of various 19th century educational ventures. It is not surprising therefore, that Henry Darwin Rogers would be excited by an 1846 conversation with Boston industrialist John Lowell about Lowell’s concept for a new model of higher education. Immediately, Henry urged his 41 year-old brother William Barton Rogers, professor of natural history at the University of Virginia, to put his plan for a “school of practical science” on paper. Boston, it seemed to Henry, might be just the place for his brother William to realize his dream. This letter describes what is considered the original plan for MIT.
...such a nucleus-school would, with the growth of this active and knowledge-seeking community...soon overtop the universities of the land....
The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.