Image of MIT-Harvard Merger Petitions MIT-Harvard Merger Petitions
MIT-Harvard Merger petitions, 1904-1905

MIT-Harvard Merger

1904–1905

Petition, 1904

Letter, 1905

MIT-Harvard mergers were proposed several times between 1863 and 1917. The most significant attempt came in 1904 when MIT President Henry S. Pritchett and Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot attempted to negotiate a merger between their respective institutions, despite rampant resistance from MIT alumni and faculty. MIT would have retained its name and charter, but would have moved to Allston to become, in effect, Harvard’s engineering school. An opposing circular letter sent to more than 3,700 former MIT students in 1904 enclosed a petition on a postcard to be signed and returned.  Not all alumni were content to sign their names without commentary. While the postcards were overwhelmingly negative, trustees from both institutions approved the scheme. The merger nonetheless failed in 1905 when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that MIT could not sell its original Back Bay lands to raise the funds needed to rebuild at Harvard.

Blank Petition, 1904/05 and Letter from Edward Bolton opposing merger with Harvard College, 1905.  From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President records, 1897-1931.

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