Honoring a colorful tradition
In 1876, the class of 1879 resolved that the MIT school colors would be red and gray. The precise shades of red and gray have spurred such controversy over the years that one MIT student devoted his chemistry thesis to determining the precise formula.
Over the years, MIT red has been described as the color of
- the New York cardinal flower
- a cardinal (bird)
- Cardinal O'Connell's undershirt
- the stripes on an American flag
Over the years, MIT gray has been described as the color of
- Douglas gray
- the New England sky throughout the school year
The MIT school colors were adopted in May of 1876.
"We examined and discussed many colors. We all desired cardinal red; it has stood for a thousand years on land and sea in England's emblem; it makes one-half of the stripes on America's flag; it has always stirred the heart and mind of man; it stands for 'red blood' and all that 'red blood' stands for in life. But we were not unanimous for the gray; some wanted blue, I recall. But it (the gray) seemed to me to stand for those quiet virtues of modesty and persistency and gentleness, which appealed to my mind as powerful; and I have come to believe, from observation and experience, to really be the most lasting influences in life and history....We recommended 'cardinal and steel gray.'"
— Alfred T. Waite, Chairman of School Color Committee, Class of 1879
"Blood and concrete...but what shade depends on the amount of iron you add to each."