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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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“I am inclined to believe that competent instructors may be produced in the school at Troy, who will be highly useful to the community in the diffusion of a very useful kind of knowledge, with its application to the business of living.”

— Stephen Van Rensselaer

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RPI History

The Rensselaer School was established in Troy, New York, in 1824 by Stephen Van Rensselaer “for the purpose of instructing persons ... in the application of science to the common purposes of life.”

It is “...the first school of science and school of civil engineering, which has had a continuous existence, to be established in any English-speaking country” according to Palmer C. Ricketts in his preface to the second edition of his History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1914).

In 1833 the school became the Rensselaer Institute, and in the 1850s its purpose was broadened to become a polytechnic institution.

The Institute’s name was changed in 1861 to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Rensselaer maintains an online archive of five rare books covering the Institute’s early history.

Published between 1855 and 1968, the books detail Rensselaer’s founding and development, and place the school in the context of scientific and technological education in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Visit the Book Archive

 
 
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