Image of Telephone Banquet Telephone Banquet
Philanthropy, Telephone Banquet, 1916

Western Electric 329 Candlestick Telephone

c. 1904

MIT alumni often benefit from strong connections with classmates and fellow alumni long after they leave the Institute. On June 14, 1916, the network of MIT alumni was more than metaphorical: 34 alumni clubs around the country were connected by telephone in what Technology Review reported as “the most elaborate trans-continental telephone stunt ever staged.” Groups from Duluth to San Francisco could hear speeches in Boston by Alexander Graham Bell, Orville Wright, and other dignitaries, and all the clubs joined in a final chorus of the “Star Spangled Banner.” More than $3 million was raised that evening (about $61 million in 2011 dollars), an important reminder of the vital contributions made by alumni throughout MIT’s history. Alumni today demonstrate the same drive to connect with one another through social media, and use online video streaming and other current technologies to participate in the life of the Institute around the globe.

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