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History of the League

As MIT's first First Lady, Emma Rogers was quick to realize the importance of gathering campus women together in a social setting for the benefit of friendship and sisterhood. She was a tireless supporter of the Institute (founded by her husband William Barton Rogers in 1861) and never hesitated to offer her home, her heart, and her resources, to make a burgeoning technical school into a more friendly and congenial place for all.

Later, Alice Maclaurin, wife of President Richard C. Maclaurin, saw the need to formalize the network in support of women and the Institute. During her husband's tenure (1909 to 1920), a constitution was written, bylaws adopted, and a name established in 1913 as The Emma Rogers Organization of Technology Matrons (abbreviated one month later to Technology Matrons).

In 1922, the organization expanded its scope even further by inviting the wives of students into its midst under the name of the Technology Dames (after Matron Eleanor Jack, wife of Professor James R. Jack expressed her concern for student wives). This move strengthened Mrs. Rogers' commitment "to promote sociability among families of the administration and instructing staffs of MIT."

Operating under the moniker of the MIT Women's League since 1975, the organization has evolved with the times, re-evaluating and reinventing itself over a 100-year history, to cater to an increasingly diverse and multicultural membership. The League is open to all women who are part of MIT's community through their work, their matriculation as students, or their role as spouses and partners of students, staff, or faculty.

Social interaction that fosters friendship among women at MIT remains a hallmark of the organization, as does dedication to public service and good works that benefit both MIT and the greater Boston and Cambridge communities. Membership remains free and open to all.

Noteworthy milestones

  • Over the past 50 years, the Furniture Exchange, accessible now to students from MIT and neighboring schools, continues to benefit the MIT Women's League Scholarship Fund with ever increasing sales and profits.
  • A clothing service program to aid international undergraduates in need of winter and interview attire has been running now for 16 years
  • Complementing the ever-popular English conversation classes-serving up to 95 international women per term-are ESL classes for MIT service employees taught during work shifts.
  • Now incorporated into MIT's International Students Office, the Hosts to International Students Program has found hosts for international students for nearly 30 years.
  • Off campus explorations include League-sponsored walking tours in Boston and Cambridge as well as tours of the MIT art collections, the Newbury Street galleries, and local museums.
  • The Catherine N. Stratton Lecture Fund underwrites annual lectures and seminars on timely social and political issues as well as health topics, open to all in the MIT community.
  • A relationship with Transition House, Cambridge's shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence, was established as a way to give back to the community beyond MIT.

For a detailed history on the League or membership information, email wleague@mit.edu.

 

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