The Beaver has been a member of MIT for one hundred years. But how did the Beaver come to the MIT community?
This excerpt was found in a dusty file cabinet, archived amongst the CAC files, as part of a plan to redesign the Beaver costume. It explains the beginnings of the mascot and why MIT chose the beaver as its symbol.
"The beaver was chosen as the mascot of Technology because of its remarkable engineering and mechanical skill and its habits of industry. The proposal that the beaver be adapted as the mascot of the Institute was made at the annual dinner of the Technology Club of New York on January 17, 1914. The late President Richard Maclaurin formally accepted the proposal, and at this dinner a group of beavers shown in natural surroundings was presented to the Institute."
The Technology Club of New York held its annual dinner at the Hotel Plaza on January 17, 1914 with President Maclaurin as the principal guest of the evening.
The first special feature was the presentation to President Maclaurin of a pair of handsomely mounted beavers and the suggestion on behalf of the New York club that this animal should be duly adopted as the mascot of the Institute. Later, D. Gardner made the presentation address and felicitously pointed out that while Princeton has her tiger, Yale her bulldog, and Wisconsin her Badger, Tech has no mascot and he then emphasized the peculiar appropriateness of the beaver, because of its unique industry and its modest and inconspicuous acquisitiveness, as a symbol of Technology in general and of Technology's President in particular. Doctor Maclaurin then gracefully accepted the gift and adopted the beaver as the formal mascot of the Institute.
In presenting the Beaver Group, Mr. Gardner said:
"On behalf of the Technology Club of New York, I have been asked to present you for your consideration as a mascot for Tech, these Beavers. It may interest you to know how the Beaver came to be chosen. But before proceeding, I, like every other good loyal Tech man, take off my Beaver hat to President Maclaurin.
Someone came to us at the club and asked us if Tech had a mascot. We replied 'Sure, President Maclaurin.' He told us that he didn't mean a revenue-producing animal, he wanted a sentimental mascot. We first thought of the kangaroo, which like Tech goes forward by leaps and bounds and like you comes from Australia. Then we considered the elephant. He is wise, patient, strong, hard working and like all men who graduate from Tech, has a good tough hide.
But neither of these were American animals. We turned to Mr. Hornaday's book on the Animals of North America and instantly chose the Beaver. As you will see the Beaver not only typifies the Tech man but his habits are peculiarly our own. Mr. Hornaday say, 'Of all the animals of the world, the beaver is noted for his engineering and mechanical skill and habits of industry. His habits are nocturnal, he does his best work in the dark.'"
—From "Image of the MIT Beaver: A Discussion on the Re-Design of the MIT Beaver Costume," 1998. Campus Activities Complex. W20-500