Image of Cardinal & Gray Society Red Jacket Cardinal & Gray Society Red Jacket
First Cardinal & Gray Society Red Jacket, Classes of 1916 and 1966

Class of 1916 “Red Jacket”


At their 50th reunions, alumni don distinctive jackets and march at the head of the Commencement procession to mark their membership in the Cardinal & Gray Society. The tradition began in 1966 with jackets, including this one, for the Class of 1916. Alumni proudly wear their jackets when attending MIT events such as reunions and Tech Night at the Pops. In 1876, students from the Class of 1879 selected the colors of cardinal and gray: cardinal, for the American flag and for red blood, was a unanimous choice, but silver or steel gray took longer to select. Ultimately, they decided that gray represented the “quiet virtues of modesty and persistency and gentleness” which were “the most lasting influences in life and history.” The Alumni Council initiated a more scientific analysis in 1926 when it sent fabric samples to the U.S. Bureau of Standards for analysis. In 1930, Ernest Fell wrote his SB chemistry thesis on standardized cardinal and gray dyes, and today the MIT Publishing Services Bureau can provide the exact Pantone® color.

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