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Welcome to Archives and Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections serves as the institutional memory of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and curates the university's collection of manuscripts, rare books, art, and objects.  Our staff is committed to the preservation of the historical and cultural resources produced by WPI faculty, students, and staff while also providing support for primary source education and research.  We also partner with campus units to enrich events with WPI history, curate exhibits, and foster community engagement.  Access to our collections is available via the Fellman Dickens Reading Room or through Digital WPI, our online institutional repository.

Thank you for visiting and please let us know if we can be of any service,

Arthur L. Carlson
Assistant Director for Archives and Special Collections


Naudin Oswell, WPI's first black graduate, Class of 1930

The Odyssey of Naudin Oswell

WPI Archivist Arthur Carlson has made notable discoveries about Naudin Oswell ’30, WPI’s first black graduate. Despite facing racial discrimination, Oswell rose to hold significant positions in public housing and finance. “This isn’t just about celebrating Naudin Oswell’s achievements,” says Carlson. “It’s about understanding the struggles that led to those achievements.” Read more in this remarkable story.

Early photograph of Boynton Hall alt
Boynton Hall
Washburn Shops interior alt
Washburn Shops
John Boynton portrait alt
John Boynton portrait
Ichabod Washburn portrait alt
Ichabod Washburn portrait

WPI History

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is one of the nation's earliest technological universities.  Founded in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1865, the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science (later Worcester Polytechnic Institute) developed an innovative approach to the education and training of a new class of professional engineers and scientists through a combination of hands-on practice and classroom instruction. 

Archives & Special Collections has many historical resources from university records, published and unpublished histories, yearbooks, course catalogs, student publications and images which chronicle the history of WPI from its founding in 1865 through the present.  Collections available digitally can be found in Digital WPI .  Information on the yearlong sesquicentennial celebration can be found at 150 Years : Imagine More .