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Historic Resources Committee: Awe-Inspiring Women

Sophia Bennett at MIT in 1888

Sophia Bennett at MIT in 1888

MIT Museum

  • COST

    Free and open to the public.

  • TYPE

    Professional Development



Awe-inspiring Women Who Studied Architecture at MIT in the Early Days: Pioneers and Innovators

For our June meeting, longtime HRC member Susan Schur Hon. AIA regales for us the inspiring stories of a number of women who studied architecture at “Tech” from the 1800s to 1910. One hundred fifty years ago, MIT became the first collegiate institution in the United States to offer an architecture course of study and, almost from the start, women were enrolled in this program.

These female trailblazers were responsible for an impressive record of accomplishments widely recognized throughout the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries, but less and less acknowledged, if not completely ignored, in more recent times. Nonetheless, their achievements included winning international architectural and urban design competitions, establishing successful women-owned architecture firms, designing college and residential landscapes, initiating and participating in local AIA chapters, undertaking entrepreneurial activities in various fields of endeavor, and much more.

Susan E. Schur, Hon. AIA, FAPT, is President of The Technology Organization, Inc. and was the founder and publisher-editor of "Technology & Conservation," an undertaking which now organizes and presents biennial conferences focusing on architectural materials. She served two terms as President of the Association of MIT Alumnae (AMITA) and one term as Vice-President of the Association of MIT Alumni. Susan's research into the lives and attainments of early MIT women came about through her initiating, organizing and chairing the year-long 1973 centennial celebration of 100 years of women graduates from MIT. This interest in documenting accomplishments in what many considered non-traditional fields for females began even earlier with her work editing (for ten years) the national publication of the Society of Women Engineers and her involvement in the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists.

To learn more about the Historic Resources Committee, visit