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Rensselaer History

The Rensselaer School was established in 1824 by Stephen Van Rensselaer "for the purpose of instructing persons ... in the application of science to the common purposes of life" (letter from Stephen Van Rensselaer to Samuel Blatchford, November 5, 1824). 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" (Ricketts, Palmer C. History of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 2nd ed.). In 1833 the school became the Rensselaer Institute, and in the 1850s its purpose was broadened to become a polytechnic institution. The name was changed to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1861.

Academic Heads

Alumni Hall of Fame

Building Histories

Commencement Speakers

Early Documents

Map of Rensselaerwick

Rensselaer United States Navy Admirals


Student Traditions

Timeline of RPI History

Weblog: RPI History Revealed

Online Rensselaer Publications

The documents in this section have been digitized from original materials held in Rensselaer's Institute Archives and Special Collections department. Each item has been converted to a size and format that allows for ease of use online. In many cases links, indexes, and other navigational tools have been added to increase access to the intellectual contents of the materials.

125 Years of Chemistry at RPI by Henry Van Klooster, 1949

Biographical Record of Officers and Graduates by Henry B. Nason, 1887

A Chapter in American Education by Ray Palmer Baker, 1924

Education for a Technological Society by Samuel Rezneck, 1968

History of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by Palmer C. Ricketts, 1934

Photographic Reproductions of Work of Graduates 1931

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by B.F. Greene, 1855

They Led the Way by Richard W. Schmelzer, 1980

Rensselaer: Where Imagination Achieves the Impossible
by Thomas Phelan, D. Michael Ross and Carl Westerdahl, 1995

The Centennial Celebration of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, October 3rd and 4th, 1924 ed. by Palmer C. Ricketts, 1925