This Week in Princeton History for July 17-23

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a magazine runs an unsettling story about a professor, a graduate tells a federal prosecutor he has been pressured to commit perjury, and more.

July 17, 1989—New York Magazine runs a 7-page article on Thomas McFarland, an English professor at Princeton University accused of sexually assaulting a male graduate student. McFarland explains, “I’ve never liked anybody who wasn’t heterosexual. Most of the people I’ve liked tend to be of an age when they would be students. All the great loves of my life have been students.”

The Thomas McFarland matter and its aftermath had far-reaching implications for Princeton, as is detailed in several of the University’s publications for the late 1980s and early 1990s. In this April 19, 1990 issue of the Nassau Weekly, the graduate student involved took an administrator to task for his response to the article that appeared in New York Magazine. Click to enlarge this image.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 10-16

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a sword fight breaks out between dorm residents, rumors about Paul Volcker ’49 circulate, and more.

July 10, 1804—William Robinson is suspended from the College of New Jersey following a fight that escalated to him attacking another student with a sword: “Upon asking them the cause of the disturbance, Mr. Robinson said that while he was conversing with his roommate, Mr. B came to his door and ordered him to make less noise, which he took as an insult, and went to his room to ask what he meant by it. …Mr. Barrat related the circumstances as just stated, with this addition, that Mr. R when he first came into his room, struck at him several times with the sword, but that he did not receive any wound except a very slight one on his arm. Mr. Robinson acknowledged the whole, but pled that he did not intend to strike Mr. B with the sword.”

July 11, 1861—Samuel P. Carter of the Class of 1839 receives orders to report to the Secretary of War for duty. Carter will organize an infantry brigade of other Tennessee residents loyal to the Union and adopt the code name “Powhatan.”

July 13, 1987—An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal today speculates that Paul Volcker ’49, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, will soon join the Princeton faculty, but the University declines to comment. (The Journal‘s reporting is accurate.)

Paul Volcker ’49, ca. 1991. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 121.

July 14, 1949—Over 60 Princeton alumni celebrate Bastille Day by holding a reunion at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The unusual crowd in orange and black ties draws local press coverage.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

This Week in Princeton History for July 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a court ruling forces two eating clubs to accept women, a Yugoslavian king is on campus, and more.

July 3, 1990—The New Jersey Supreme Court rules in Frank v. Ivy Club that the last two male-only eating clubs at Princeton must admit women. Sally Frank ’80 initially filed her suit in 1979. The Princeton University Archives holds two collections documenting this case: those of Frank’s co-counsel and a general collection of materials related to the case.

Photo from 1990 Bric-a-Brac. At the time of the Bric-a-Brac‘s publication, Frank’s legal battles were ongoing.

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Tracing Princeton’s Connections to Slavery through Intentional Serendipity

The Princeton and Slavery Symposium, a presentation of several years of “scholarly investigation of Princeton University’s historical engagement with the institution of slavery,” is scheduled for November 17-18, 2017. As we lead up to that date, we will be blogging about Mudd’s involvement in this larger project.

Last November, the University of Houston-Downtown Archives wrote about their staff’s annoyance at headlines about items “Found Buried in the Archives!” Articles like these often rub staff in archives the wrong way, because they render their ongoing efforts (necessary for scholars to uncover such material) invisible. Working day-to-day in the archives of a university, we often know a lot more about our institutions than we’re ever able to share in writing, leaving it to the researchers who visit us to record most of the stories that the materials we show them reveal. It is sometimes our jobs to tell the stories of our schools, but not always; even when it is, there will never be enough time for us to write them all down. My multi-page list of blogs-in-progress attests to this.

Even so, there are still discoveries made on a daily basis, “buried” materials or not. Not everything is easily found. My work at Mudd often highlights our collections from new angles and/or reveals forgotten stories about Princeton’s past. In order to do this, I keep records of what I discover in the course of my workday. Themes sometimes emerge and eventually become social media posts, blogs, or exhibit fodder as I transform the messy notes in my legal pads and Word documents and the connections in my head into more coherent pieces for public consumption. I also recruit my student assistants to help in this endeavor. Just as I do, they sometimes intentionally set out to tell a specific story, but we also write the stories that find us rather than vice versa. Our discoveries about Princeton’s connections to slavery reflect this kind of intentional serendipity (not quite the oxymoron it seems). The work of Mudd’s Public Services is both visible and invisible to the patrons who use our library. In today’s blog, I will reveal some of the invisible work that we do to support Princeton’s educational mission.

The first such item I want to highlight is one I uncovered in the course of collecting items for the weekly blog feature, “This Week in Princeton History.” The notice of a slave sale held on the Princeton campus in 1766 was worth including in this weekly roundup of events in mid-August 2015 in part because I had talked with students in the “Princeton and Slavery” course about their research and knew it was of interest to the public we serve. The professor for the course, Martha A. Sandweiss, referred to the slave sale in an article about her class that appeared in The Nation a few months later.

Clip from the Philadelphia Journal, August 14, 1766.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 26-July 2

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Board of Trustees expresses concern about vices on campus, a trek up Denali raises money for AIDS research, and more.

June 26, 1790—Having just returned from an evening at David Hamilton’s Tavern, four students put a calf in the pulpit of Nassau Hall as a prank, then flip the outhouse over.

June 28, 1848—The Board of Trustees, noting that “the vice of intemperance has prevailed among the students to an alarming degree,” directs the faculty to expel any student “who is ascertained to be in the habit of commonly using intoxicating drinks, or of frequenting taverns.”

Sketch by unknown author depicting students drinking at Princeton, “It’s a Way We Have at Old Nassau,” ca. 1863. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), MP159, Image No. 4395.

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Latinx Student Poetry at Princeton

By Courtney Perales ’17 with April C. Armstrong *14 and Mario Garcia ’18

Students have often used the arts and poetry to express themselves and enhance their identities on campus. Two Latinx poems I found in student publications in the archives this spring were particularly striking to me: “Lloro Por Mi Puerto Rico Perdido” in La Mujer Latina, by Maribel Garcia ’84, and “We Hunger” in The Vigil, by Michele Parris ’90. I also ran across a reprint of “Our Tongue was Nauhuatl” by noted Mexican-American poet Ana Castillo in Sol Del Este East Coast Chicanx Student Forum Newsletter. One thing that stood out among these three different Latinx poems were that they delved into topics around identity, sense of belonging, and racial insensitivity and microaggressions students were experiencing. In another Latinx student publication, Amanecer, there were many more poems with similar themes. The poems depicted how these students were part of and yet pushed against the idea of a “Latinx monolith.” Wrestling with topics like borders, immigration, and independence, each piece pulled from deep emotional reserves and evoked the pain, confusion, and frustrations that came with being a student of color at Princeton.

La Mujer Latina, Spring 1982. Historical Subject Files (AC109) Box 297, Folder 8.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 19-25

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a scientific expedition begins, the institution declines to pay for extra policing, and more.

June 21, 1877—A group of twenty sets off on Princeton’s first scientific expedition to the North American west, during which they will collect paleontological and geological information in Colorado.

Princeton’s first scientific expedition camping in Fairplay, Colorado, 1877. Princeton Scientific Expeditions Collection (AC012), Box 3, Folder 2.

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Meet Mudd’s Valencia Johnson

Name: Valencia Johnson

Position: John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellow

Educational Background: I recently graduated from Baylor University with a master’s in Museum Studies. My focus was archives and special collections. I earned my bachelor’s degree in History and American Studies from the University of Kansas.

Previous experience: In my two years at Baylor, I processed several collections that included Baylor’s presidential papers. In addition to processing, I worked at the reference desks for the University’s archives and the special collection library, Armstrong Browning. I also curated exhibits for Baylor’s main library and for the Mayborn Museum Complex.

Why I like archives: I think it is amazing that archives enable people, notable and ordinary, to have an impact on others and the collective human knowledge long after they’re gone. You’re able to understand the private working of an institution or the intimate thoughts of an individual. I love that the field is able to help researchers through digital access.

Other interests: It may come as no surprise that I love museums. I enjoy exploring places, so NYC and Philadelphia are on my list to visit this summer. All recommendations for places to see are welcomed. I also like coffee, comics (books and movies), and cooking.

Projects this summer: I am pleased to work on enhancing the description of the Communications Records photograph series, being a part of the exhibit team, and working with my fellow fellows on the born-digital research project. I’m excited to learn EAD and about the challenges of handling digital-born materials.

This Week in Princeton History for June 12-18

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Liberty Bell is in town, the first woman earns a Princeton degree, and more.

June 13, 1878—A member of the Class of 1878 writes that he is disappointed by the College of New Jersey (Princeton)’s invitation to U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes to speak at Commencement, saying his appearance would dishonor the graduates and Commencement would be “made subservient to outsiders.” It is ultimately a moot point; Hayes declines the invitation.

College of New Jersey (Princeton) Commencement Program, 1878. Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 2, Folder 18.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Commencement is held without predicted problems, a senior praises William Howard Taft, and more.

June 5, 1978—Princeton University’s Board of Trustees votes to include coverage for abortion under the student health insurance plan.

This article by an anonymous female Princeton University student details her experiences with health care prior to the decision to cover abortion under the student health plan (Princeton Forerunner, November 30, 1976).

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