Booker T. Washington

All Categories Booker T. Washington Typed Letter Signed to MIT President Henry Pritchett

Booker T. Washington

Typed Letter Signed to MIT President Henry Pritchett - 1900

Typed Letter Signed on the letterhead of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute , Tuskegee, Alabama. Dated December 23, 1900, to noted astronomer Henry Smith Pritchett, then President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, thanking Pritchett for a $60 contribution for the Tuskegee Institute collected by MIT students following a talk Washington had given to MIT students some time before:

Crawford House, Boston, Mass.
Dec. 23, 1900

President Henry S. Pritchett,
Institute of Technology, Boston
My dear President Pritchett:

Your check for $60 for the benefit of our institution from your students is a very pleasant surprise to me I assure you. I had no idea of receiving a cent as the result of my little talk. Please thank all who had a part in making up this gift and let them know how very grateful I am and how much good it will help accomplish at Tuskegee.

Yours truly,

/signed/ Booker T. Washington

Being over 100 years old this letter is in extremely good condition, with minor foxing on the upper corners, and a few mounting stains that originate mainly on the reverse side but show through weakly to the front. Previously folded six times, presumably to fit an envelope, the document has evidently been laid flat for most of its life, accounting for its fine condition.

Also permanently attached to this letter in the lower right corner is a receipt from MIT’s Treasury Department, fully in the hand of Henry Pritchett, stating:

Received for Christmas purse for Tuskegee Institute—$60.00

/signed/ Henry S. Pritchett
Dec. 22, 1900

It’s worth noting that in 1900, $60 was a significant amount of money—equivalent to about $1,500 today.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was an American educator, author and leader of the African American community. He was freed from slavery as a child, gained an education, and as a young man was appointed to lead a teachers’ college for blacks. From this position of leadership he rose into a nationally prominent role as spokesman for African Americans.In addition to his achievements in astronomy and his leadership at MIT, Henry Pritchett had a long and illustrious career, including involvement with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace , and served as a trustee for Carnegie Institute of Washington . Pritchett Lounge, on the second floor of Walker Memorial at MIT is named in his honor.

The clipped image at left shows the provenance of this wonderful letter as it appeared in the January 10, 1901 edition of The Tech, MIT’s oldest and largest newspaper, and the oldest newspaper published on the Web (viewable online at MIT’s The Tech Archives).

As this is currently unframed, also included is a beautiful photograph of Booker T. Washington, pensively seated with a magazine in his lap, dated 1903—about the same time he wrote this letter—from the archives of the Library of Congress. Measuring approximately 5×7, this fine image has been exquisitely reproduced on Hahnemühle Smooth Fine Art paper using specialty pigment inks designed to resist fading up to 200 years, and would make an excellent enhancement to an archivally framed presentation.


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