Archives and Special Collections
92 Snell Library
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

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Collection Overview
Title:Lowell Institute School records
Location Code:28/3, 35/3
Reference Code:A26
Extent:12.40 cubic ft. (16 boxes)
Scope and Content Abstract:The records of the Lowell Institute School document the school's curricula and students from 1903 to 1996. Annual reports provide a comprehensive overview of the school's curricula and student body. Curricular materials include laboratory notebooks, lecture notes, bulletins, catalogs, course evaluations and progress reports, drawings, examinations, handouts, homework assignments, posters, publications, readings, and syllabi. Also included is documentation of the schools' relationship to General Electric Corporation, which sent many of its employees to the school as part of their apprenticeship training. Graduation files include programs, invitations, and correspondence, introductory and commencement speeches, ceremony agendas, biographies on keynote speakers, newspaper clippings, lists of graduates and degrees, faculty, and guests, photographs, and sample diplomas. Yearbooks exist for 1909-1931 and 1948, and student records for 1905-1969. The collection also contains significant historical information on the Lowell family and its role in the genesis and development of the Lowell Institute School. In Series 3 Box 16 Folder 2, there is a CD for Fall 2003 Schedule Guide.
Historical Abstract:The Lowell Institute School was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1903 as the School for Industrial Foremen. It provided low-cost, continuing education to industrial foremen seeking to enhance their professional skills. The school offered two tuition-free evening programs: the Mechanical Course and the Electrical Course. Over time, the school's admission standards became more rigorous and its curriculum expanded, but it continued to offer two-year programs in mechanical and electrical engineering well into the 1960s. In addition, courses in structural and civil engineering, high-speed strobe photography, machine tool fundamentals, scientific glass blowing, house building, technical writing, and microprocessor systems were offered. Courses in computer technology were added in the 1960s and became an integral component of the school's curriculum. In the fall of 1996, the school was transferred to Northeastern University (NU), becoming a division of NU's School of Engineering Technology.
System of Arrangement:Organized into 6 series: 1. Annual Reports; 2. Course Offerings; 3. Subject Files; 4. Graduation Files; 5. Yearbooks; and 6. Student Files.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Foster, F. Leroy.
  • Lowell, Abbott Lawrence.
  • Lowell, Augustus.
  • Lowell, John Jr.
  • Lowell, Ralph.
  • Park, Charles Francis.
  • Townsend, Arthur Lawrence.
  • Wedlock, Bruce D.

  • Lowell Institute School.
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). Lowell Institute School.
  • Northeastern University--School of Engineering Technology.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology--School for Industrial Foremen.

  • Adult education--Massachusetts.
  • Continuing education--Massachusetts.
  • Engineering--Study and teaching.
  • Evening and continuation schools--Massachusetts.
  • Lowell family.
  • Manual training--Massachusetts.
  • Occupational training--Massachusetts.
  • Technical education--Massachusetts.
  • Vocational training--Massachusetts.

Conditions Governing Access:Records are closed for 25 years from the date of their creation, unless researchers have written permission from the creating office. Student records (boxes 9-11) are closed for 75 years from their date of creation.
Finding Aids:Lowell Institute Alumni Association records, 1905-1996 (M30)
Processor:Finding aid prepared by Karen Adler Abramson, Migyeong Geum, October 1998, October 2012

Historical Note

The Lowell Institute School traces its roots to an 1836 bequest by John Lowell, Jr., a scion of the prominent New England family that introduced production machinery to the manufacture of cotton goods. Lowell was the son of Francis Cabot Lowell, for whom the city of Lowell is named. In his will, John Lowell, Jr. left one-half of his fortune ($250,000) toward the development of public lectures for Boston residents on the topics of philosophy, natural history, and the arts and sciences. John Amory Lowell, the founder's cousin, was appointed sole trustee of the new Lowell Institute and organized the first lecture series in 1839. As set forth in the will, tuition for lectures was equivalent to the "value of two bushels of wheat."

Augustus Lowell, son of John Amory Lowell and second trustee of the Lowell Institute, persuaded President Rogers of the newly-founded Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] to establish a series of evening public lectures on practical subjects in 1868. Conducted by MIT professors, these lectures were of an "erudite or special nature" and were offered to the public for over 30 years.

Upon the death of Augustus Lowell in 1900, his son A. Lawrence Lowell, a member of the Corporation of MIT and future President of Harvard University, became the third trustee of the Lowell Institute. A. Lawrence Lowell believed that the lectures on popular subjects, while of high quality, did not reach the people who needed them most, namely industrial foremen who had few, if any, scholastic avenues for improving their industrial skills. Lowell recommended to MIT President Henry S. Pritchett a plan for training able working men already in foremen's positions to enhance their professional skills. Pritchett appointed Professor Charles F. Park (MIT class of 1892) to draw up a plan for the training program. Park's report resulted in the establishment of the evening School for Industrial Foremen at MIT in 1903, of which Park was appointed Director.

The School for Industrial Foremen offered two evening programs known as the Mechanical and Electrical Courses. These two-year programs were offered tuition-free to workers seeking to expand their employment opportunities through further industrial training. Program candidates were required to pass examinations in high school mathematics and drawing, and later on, trigonometry. Courses were taught by members of the MIT faculty and included lectures, recitations, drafting exercises, and laboratory work on industrial topics. Students received certificates upon completion of the two-year course of study. The school held its first graduation in 1905.

Over time, the school's curriculum expanded and admission standards became more rigorous. In 1913 a Builders' Course was added to the curriculum, eventually renamed the Structural Course. In 1923 the school began offering supplementary or advanced courses that provided specialized training to men working in particular industrial trades. During the same year, the school was renamed the Lowell Institute School Under the Auspices of MIT in the recognition that the school no longer catered exclusively to foremen. By 1928 the school was thriving and registered up to 600 students including those trained at institutions such as Northeastern University, the General Electric Engineering School, MIT, and Harvard. Before World War II, the school's annual enrollment exceeded 1,000.

A. Lawrence Lowell died in 1943, leaving his son Ralph Lowell to become the school's fourth trustee. Ralph Lowell was instrumental in establishing the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council (1946) which pioneered the use of radio as a vehicle for adult education programming. In 1944 the school's long-standing director, Charles Park, died. Park was succeeded by Arthur Lawrence Townsend, a long-time professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and the Lowell Institute School. Townsend remained director until his death in 1959, at which point F. Leroy Foster assumed the post. Foster retired in 1973 and was replaced by Bruce D. Wedlock who directed the school until it left MIT in 1996.

The Lowell Institute School continued to offer two-year programs in mechanical and electrical engineering well into the 1960s. Courses in structural and civil engineering were also offered periodically according to student demand. Under the directorship of Bruce Wedlock, the curriculum expanded to include courses such as: high speed strobe photography, machine tool fundamentals, scientific glassblowing, housebuilding, technical writing, and microprocessor systems. Courses in computer technology also burgeoned in the 1960s-1970s and became an integral component of the school's curriculum.

In the Fall of 1996, the Lowell Institute School was transferred to Northeastern University, becoming a division of the university's 70-year-old School of Engineering Technology. With continued support from the Lowell Foundation, the school offers students an education in engineering technology with an emphasis on applications and problem solving. The school still provides non-degree technical education to Boston-area residents and offers degree programs in computer technology, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. John Lowell, the son of Ralph Lowell, holds the post of fifth trustee.

1903-1944Charles F. Park
1944-1959Arthur L. Townsend
1959-1973F. Leroy Foster
1973-1996Bruce D. Wedlock

"1996 Graduation Talk," 1996. (Box 8, Folder 388)

"Appendix: History of the Lowell Institute School," n.d. (Box 6, Folder 292)

Guide to the Administrative Records of the Lowell Institute Broadcasting Council and WGBH Educational Foundation 1945-1994 (1951-1991), 1995.

"Introduction," 1955. (Box 7, Folder 347)

"The James H. McGraw Award in Technical Institute Education," 1957. (Box 6, Folder 329)

"LIS@NU," 1998. (Box 3, Folder 187)

"The Lowell Institute School," n.d. (Box 6, Folder 292)

"Lowell Institute School: Graduation 1952," 1952. (Box 7, Folder 344)

"Lowell Institute Speech," 1979. (Box 7, Folder 371)

"Memorandum on the Lowell Institute School," 1958. (Box 6, Folder 292)

"Park Medal," 1982. (Box 7, Folder 374)

"A Summary of the Proposed Structure of the Lowell School," 1969.(Box 6, Folder 284)

Townsend, Arthur L. "The Lowell Institute School: The Remarkable Will of a 37-Year Old Bostonian Has Had a Profound Influence on New England Adult Education for More Than a Century," Technology Review, 1951. (Box 6, Folder 292)

Weeks, Edward. The Lowells and Their Institute. Boston: Little Brown, 1966. [CALL NUMBER: LC6301.L8W4]

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1. Annual Reports, 1903-2000
Volume:0.50 cubic ft.
Summary: The annual reports provide a comprehensive overview of the school's curriculum and student body over time and documents the following: program and course offerings, demographics on incoming and graduating students (e.g., course of study, age, professional occupation), student enrollment and attendance rates, faculty, school calendars, and program costs.
1, 15Annual Reports (71 folders)1903-1973, 1996-2000
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2. Course Offerings, n.d., 1883-2007 (bulk 1920-1996)
Volume:6.0 cubic ft.
Arrangement:Alphabetical, then chronological.
Summary:This series provides a longitudinal view of the course curriculum and contains in-depth material from courses in math, physics, statistics, machine design and mechanisms, ordnance and textile engineering, thermodynamics, electronics, computer technology and applications, among others. Course progress reports written by school faculty (1969-1971) document topics covered in the two-year Computer Technology Course (Box 2, Folder 90). Of special interest are laboratory notebooks from the 1880s-1890s (Boxes 12-13, Folders 414-417), student reports (1939-1942) on topics ranging from corrosion problems in the packing industry to dynamic gear loads in railway engineering (Box 5, Folders 245-50), and course-related blueprints and drawings.
1Advanced Machine Design1927
1Applications of Electricity in Industry1933
Automatic Machinery
14Blueprints and Drawings1921-1922
1Basic Electrical Engineering Experimentsn.d., 1960-1961
14Blueprints: International Engineering Works, Framingham, MAn.d., 1917, 1925
2Boiler and Machine Designn.d., 1915-1925
2Complex Numbers and Determinants: Notesn.d.
Computer Courses
2Advanced Programming1968-1969
2Cobol Programming I1971-1972
2Fortran IV1968-1973
2Introduction to Computers and Programming1969-1970
2Little Man Computer1969
2Programming I (4 folders)1967-1972
2Programming II (2 folders)1968-1972
2Project Laboratory I and II1970-1973
2System Programming I and II1971-1973
14Computer Printout1968
Computer Technology Course
2Course Progress Reports1969-1971
2-3, 15-16Course Offerings (105 folders)ca. 1903-2007
3Course Syllabi (A-Z) (4 folders)n.d., 1967-1968, 1981-1996
3Electromagnetic Energy Transmission1962-1963
3Elements of Accounting and Management1970-1973
3Engineering Laboratory: Report Folders and Assignments (2 folders)1939
3Engineering Metalsn.d., 1938
3Examinations (4 folders)1920-1937, 1959-1969
3Handbook for Instructors and Teaching Assistants1970
3Illustrations of Cotton Machinery1913
12Laboratory Notesca. 1883-1889
12-13Laboratory Records (3 folders)ca. 1885-1901
Machine Design
14Blueprints and Drawings1928
3Problems and Notes1927-1928
4Problems, Notes, and Examinations (2 folders)n.d., 1919-1938
4Problems and Solutions1965
4Machine Drawing Details1915
4Machine Drawings Niles-Bement-Pond Companyn.d.
4Machine Lab: Notebook1959-1960
4Machine Tools for Producing Straight and Spiral Bevel and Hypoid Gears1933
4I and II (2 folders)1969-1972
4Homework Solutions1971-1972
4Mechanical Designn.d., 1944-1955
4Mechanism and Valve Gear Problems (2 folders)1919-1927
Mechanism of Machines
4Assignment and Class Schedules1930-1935
14Blueprints (3 folders)1914-1923
4Examinations (3 folders)n.d., 1914-1933
4Notes and Blueprints (2 folders)1922-1923, 1930s
4Problems (3 folders)1914-1921
4-5Problems and Notes (4 folders)1921-1934
5Mechanism Problems1920-1921
5Modern Electronic Components and Applications1970
5Modifications to Basic1970
5Notes for Use in Standardizing Laboratory, by F.A. Laws1914
5Notes on Calculus for the Use of Students of the Lowell Institute School for Industrial Foremen, by Harrison W. Hayward1915
5Notes on Elementary Thermodynamics, by Theodore H. Taft1926
5Notes on Mathematics, by W.A. Johnston1916
5Notes on Mechanical Engineering, Drawing, and the Blue Processn.d., 1893, 1896
5Notes on Textile Engineering, by George B. Haven1920
5Ordnance Engineering1924-1925
5Physics: Experiments, Laboratory Assignments, and Examinationsn.d., 1936-1937, 1967-1968
13, 14Posters1974-1996
Problems in Industrial Plants
13Drawingca. 1920
5Notes and Problems1920, 1922
5Problems in Machine Design1927
5Statistics Course1972
Student Reports
5A Brief on the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances1940
5Dynamic Gear Loads in Railway Engineering1941
5Food Engineering (3 folders)1939-1942
5A Report on the Union Pacific Locomotive1940
5Textile Engineering: Notes and Problems1924
5Thermodynamic Properties of Steam, by Joseph Keenan and Frederick Keyes1936
5Thermodynamicsn.d., 1901-1908
Townsend, Arthur L.
5Blueprints and Notes (2 folders)1920-1921
5Valve Gear and Mechanism Problems (3 folders)1913-1918
5Welding Engineeringn.d.
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3. Subject Files, n.d., 1903-1998
Volume:0.90 cubic ft.
Summary:The subject files contain a wide range of materials that offer rich historical information on the Lowell family and their role in the genesis and development of the Lowell Institute School. Photographs of A. Lawrence Lowell and Ralph Lowell (trustees) are included (Box 6, Folders 298, 310); of special note is one of Ralph Lowell taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1957) for Life magazine (Box 6, Folder 310). Also included are photographs of the school's first two directors, Charles Park and Arthur Townsend (Box 6, Folders 276, 316, 329), and early faculty members (Box 6, Folders 276-277). Of particular interest is John Lowell, Jr.'s will and testament from 1835, which called for the development of the Lowell Institute (Box 6, Folder 309).

The series further documents the school's relationship with the General Electric Corporation [GE] which sent many of its employees to the Lowell Institute School as part of their apprenticeship training. Programs and photographs from GE apprentice graduations are included, as are correspondence on the academic status of GE employees attending the Lowell Institute School (Box 6, Folders 286-288). Much of the correspondence and reports in this series details proposed changes to the Lowell Institute School, such as the Lowell Cooperative Program and the Community Fellows Program (both rejected). The proposals reflect the school's interest in redressing urban poverty during the late 1960s and early 1970s (Box 6, Folders 284-285). Finally, programs from the 20th and 25th annual banquets (1923, 1928) resemble yearbooks and trace student demographics from the school's founding (Box 6, Folder 261).
6Advisory Board Correspondence1970-1971
6Alumni Survey Form1935
6Annual Banquet1911-1928
6Applications for Admission1903
6Articles on Lowell Institute Schooln.d., 1905, 1957-1961
6Attendance Figuresn.d.
16Brochures and Pamphlets n.d.
6Catalog Proposal: Correspondence1903
6Closing of Lowell Institute School (1996)1994
6Committee on Lowell Courses of Evening Instruction: Reportca. 1903
6Conference on Governmental Agency Administration1944
6Cost of Evening Courses for Foremenn.d., 1903
6Course Credits to MIT1946
15 Course Number Conversion1982-1985
16Curriculum Transition MIT to Northeastern University1996
6Director's Report on Lowell Institute School1959-1971
6Electrical Engineering and Laboratory Work1903
6Examinations: Entrance1959-1967
6Generaln.d., 1933-1937
6Group Picturesn.d., 1910, 1924-1928
6Head Shotsn.d., 1922
6Resumesn.d., 1983-1996
6Films: Brochures and Correspondencen.d., 1944
6Financial Statements (3 folders)1903-1944
16Fliers 1994
6Foster, F. Leroy1959-1972
6Future Plans (2 folders)n.d., 1953, 1964-1972
General Electric
6Apprentice Graduation1952-1961
6Northeastern Draft Cooperative Plann.d.
6Status of Employees at Lowell Institute School1952-1960
6Headquarters Training Council Meeting1944
6The Early Days of the Lowell Institute and the Beginning of MITn.d.
6Early History of Drawing at MITn.d.
6Lowell Institute Schooln.d., 1941-1958
Honor Societies
16Journal of Tau Alpha Pi1991, 1994
16The Story of Pi Tau Sigma1994
6J.L. Hammett Company: Correspondence1940
6Key to Drawing Tablen.d.
6Killian, J.R., Jr.: William Barton Rogers Day Convocation Speech1957
6Laboratory Photographn.d.
6Lowell, Abbott Lawrencen.d., 1923-1943
6Lowell Cooperative Programn.d., 1968-1972
Lowell Institute
6Annual Reports1916-1917, 1922
6Bannerca. 1941
6Cooperative Broadcasting Counciln.d., 1948-1952
6History by Harriette Knight Smithn.d.
6Newspaper Articles1924, 1950
6, 16Programs (3 folders)1951-2008
6Lowell Institute School for Industrial Foremen: Reportsn.d., 1903-1907
6Lowell Institute School at Northeastern1996
16Lowell, John1998-2001
6Lowell, John Amory: Company Advertisementn.d.
6Lowell, John, Jr.1835, 1941, 1965
6Lowell, Ralphn.d., 1949-1957
16Lowell, William A.2001-2002
6The Lowells of Massachusetts1957
16Certificate Programs199?
16Course and Student Enrollments1983-1996
6Employee Graduates of Lowell Institute School1967
6School of Design: Course Descriptionsn.d.
6National Survey of Technical Institute Education1957
6Order Formsn.d.
6Park, Charles Francisn.d., 1904-1940
16Park Medal Materials2002
6Park, William R.: Obituaryn.d.
6Personal Calendarn.d.
6Photographsn.d., 1929
6Pritchett, Henry S.: Resignation as President of MIT1905
6Program Participants1969
6Provisional Admittance Form1949
6Remarks on Electric Light Wiringn.d.
14Seating Plann.d.
6School Calendar1947-1948
6, 14Student Demographics (2 folders)1927-1935
6Student Photographs1964
6Summer On-Job Training Task Force Structure1969
6Townsend, Arthur Lawrencen.d., 1938-1960
6War Service Record Formn.d.
6Wedlock, Bruce D.: Correspondence1972, 1989-1991
6Yearbook Graphicsn.d., 1927
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4. Graduation Files, n.d., 1905-1996 (bulk 1944-1996)
Volume:1.50 cubic ft.
Summary:In addition to programs, invitations, and correspondence, the series includes introductory and commencement speeches, ceremony agendas, short biographies on keynote speakers, newspaper notices, lists of graduates and degrees, faculty, and guests, dinner menus, recipients of the Park Silver Medal Award (for outstanding performance), photographs, and sample diplomas (Boxes 8, 14, Folders 389, 435). The majority of photographs document the 40th and 50th graduation ceremonies in 1944 and 1954, respectively (Boxes 6-7, Folders 336, 346). Of note are the 1954 photographs of Dorothy Carlsen Davisson, the first woman to graduate from the Lowell Institute School (Box 7, Folder 346), and those of 50th reunion alumni (Box 8, Folder 390). A graduation timeline lists commencement speakers and Lowell Institute School directors and trustees from 1905-1956 (Box 8, Folder 391).
6-8Graduation (55 folders)n.d., 1905-1996
8, 14Graduation Diplomas (2 folders)n.d., 1911-1973
8Graduation Photographsn.d.
8Graduation Time Line1905-1956
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5. Yearbooks, 1909-1931, 1948
Volume:0.50 cubic ft.
Summary:This series consists of yearbooks from the Lowell Institute School. The yearbooks provide photographs and narrative profiles of faculty and students; included is information on students' course of study, residence, prior education, occupation, committee memberships, and marital status (in early editions). Humorous graphics, quotes, and short essays are also included.
8Lowell Book (12 folders)1909-1931, 1948
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6. Student Files, 1905-1969
Volume:3.0 cubic ft.
Summary:This series contains student file cards from 1905-1969. The cards list students by: name, birth date, residence, employer and occupation, entrance and class scores, and date of graduation from the Lowell Institute School.
9-11Student Files1905-1969
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