From the Archives: MIT: Progressions from 1969

by Jay London on August 22, 2017 · 0 comments

in Alumni Life, Campus, Campus Culture, Remember When..., Video

A search for archived B-roll footage of Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky led recent graduate Kenneth Friedman’s to an even more interesting find: a previously lost 24-minute mini documentary about MIT from 1969 titled MIT: Progressions.

The video features faculty and students discussing MIT at a time when political activism was high, and mixes in scenic shots of student life and MIT campus. In particular, professors Walter A. Rosenblith HM ’76 and Alar Toomre ’57 are interviewed throughout the film.

Friedman chronicled the discovery on his personal website, where an internal misnaming of the film in the MIT Museum’s archives (MIT: Expressions) inadvertently hid the video from public view.

The Hunt for MIT Progressions,”

“While watching Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, I spotted something interesting: a brief flash of a young Noam Chomsky speaking on the steps of the MIT Student Center. It was just B-roll footage for the documentary, but I figured there must be a longer version…

A quick Google search of the title of the original, MIT: Progressions, comically returned a single result…Good news: the MIT Museum had a digital copy, and the video contained more than just Chomsky leading a protest: it contained an entire recruitment video for MIT in 1969.”

According to the video’s credits, Progressions was directed and edited by David Espar ’67. The video touches on different issues of MIT life throughout the film.

0:56: Stereotypes about MIT
2:10: Student life at MIT
4:20: MIT Student government
5:25: Professor Chomsky leading an anti-war protest outside the Stratton Student Center
7:00: The formation of MIT’s Black Student Union
11:45: Recent changes at the Institute
12:50: A classroom lecture featuring Professor Toomre
16:12: The future of classroom education
22:35: A hack in Lobby 7 (“It’s the grooviest thing, just watching it.”)

Visit Friedman’s website for the full story then watch the entire video.

Special thank you to the Admission Office’s Chris Peterson SM ’13, who originally highlighted Friedman’s discovery, and Bonny Kellermann ’72 of MIT Resource Development, who is interviewed in the video and identified many of the featured speakers.

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