William Barton Rogers, conceptual founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pursued two interrelated careers in nineteenth-century America: one centered on his activities in science and the other on his higher educational reform efforts. His scientific peers knew him as a geologist and natural philosopher, director of the first geological survey of Virginia, author of over one hundred publications in science, and promoter of professionalization. His colleagues in higher education, meanwhile, thought of him as the reform-minded professor at the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia, who later left the South and established one of America's first technological institutes. Comparatively little has been written about either of these areas of Rogers's life and career. We know much more about the scientific and educational thought of such figures as Louis Agassiz at Harvard, Benjamin Silliman at Yale, Joseph Henry at Princeton, and Alexander Dallas Bache at the helm of the Coast Survey. The literature on Rogers, by comparison, has offered little insight into his life and even less about his relationship to broader developments in nineteenth-century science and higher learning.
Article analysis by Brittany Hunt
Angulo, A. J. “William Barton Rogers and the Southern Sieve: Revisiting Science, Slavery, and Higher Learning in the Old South.” History of Education Quarterly, vol. 45, no. 1, 2005, pp. 18–37.