This Week in Princeton History for September 15-21

For last week’s installment in our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its students and alumni, click here.

For the week of September 15-21:

Woodrow Wilson makes a move into politics, a new Pablo Picasso sculpture is under construction, and more.

September 15, 1910—The New Jersey Democratic Convention nominates Princeton University President Woodrow Wilson as its candidate for governor.

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Woodrow Wilson with his family, Woodrow Wilson Collection, MC168, Box 41.

September 17, 1787—The U.S. Constitution, largely written by James Madison of the Princeton Class of 1771, is signed in Philadelphia’s Constitution Hall.

September 18, 1971—Pablo Picasso’s “Head of a Woman” is under construction at the art museum.

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Pablo Picasso’s “Head of a Woman” being installed (1971), Historical Photographs Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series, AC111, Box MP81, Item #3305.

September 20, 1964—University President Robert F. Goheen formally announces the abolishment of the “Chapel Rule,” which had made chapel attendance mandatory for freshmen, during the University’s opening exercises.

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

WWI European Pamphlet Collection Now Available Online

Written by Elizabeth Bennett

1914: War Breaks Out in Europe!

We are pleased to announce the availability of a large digital collection of pamphlets documenting World War I in Europe. These pamphlets were collected by the Princeton University Library starting from the outbreak of the war, as part of a larger European War Collection, and later renamed the Western European Theater Political Pamphlet Collection. They cover a broad range of topics including the economy, the press, the military, arms, territorial disputes, and others. The collection also includes speeches, sermons, bulletins, calendars, and songbooks. It is a multi-lingual collection with material in English, German, French, Italian, Russian, and other languages and reflects the views of people on all sides of the war.
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Access to the online digitized pamphlets is through the finding aid for the collection. For additional information, please contact History Librarian Elizabeth Bennett or the Mudd Library.

This Week in Princeton History for September 8-14

For last week’s installment in our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its students and alumni, click here.

For the week of September 8-14:

The College goes coed, a NASCAR champion talks with engineering students, the first African American joins the faculty, and more.

September 8, 1969—The College goes coed, as 171 women join the undergraduate classes of ’70, ’71, ’72, and ’73. (The Graduate School had begun admitting women in 1961.)

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Photo of female student from 1970 Bric-a-Brac.

September 10, 1981—An ongoing rash of Oriental rug thefts on campus baffles proctors and local police.

September 12, 1996—NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon is the first racecar driver to speak at Princeton University, giving a talk on “the human side of engineering” in the parking lot between the Engineering Quad and Bowen Hall.

Jeff Gordon speaks at E-Quad 1996

Photo from The Daily Princetonian.

September 14, 1955—When classes begin on this date, Princeton’s newly appointed first African American professor, Dr. Charles T. Davis, is among the faculty teaching them.

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Faculty of the Department of English from 1956 Bric-a-Brac. Charles T. Davis is pictured on the second row, third from left.

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

University Archives Launches Digital Repository of Senior Theses

 Written by Lynn Durgin

Through a joint project of the University Archives, the Office of the Dean of the College, and the Office of Information Technology, senior theses for the Classes of 2013, 2014, and all future classes will be collected and made accessible to the campus community via Princeton University’s digital repository, DataSpace.

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The University Archives made the transition from collecting paper theses to theses in digital format (PDFs) to broaden accessibility of senior theses within the Princeton community. The Senior Thesis Collection is the most frequently used collection at the University Archives and, as such, are consulted by Princeton students at a rate of about 1,000 per year to explore topics, gather ideas for possible faculty advisers, find sources, gain familiarity with disciplinary writing styles, develop research methodologies for their own theses, and to generally understand what makes a good thesis. The DataSpace repository also has the capability to capture and deliver multiple file formats including text, video, audio, and image files.

“The senior thesis has a long history at Princeton,” said University Archivist Dan Linke. “This is just the next chapter for this important aspect of a Princeton education.”

While most theses will be available in full-text on all Princeton-networked computers, a small number will only be available at computer terminals in the Mudd Manuscript Library, and none will be directly accessible to the general public. Senior theses submitted in 2012 and before will continue to be available in paper format at the Mudd Manuscript Library.

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A direct link to the Senior Thesis Collection in DataSpace is available here: http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/handle/88435/dsp019c67wm88m.

For more information on the Senior Thesis Collection, contact mudd@princeton.edu.

This Week in Princeton History for September 1-7

For last week’s installment in our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its students and alumni, click here.

For the week of September 1-7:

The Princeton Bulletin marvels at the novelty of getting Labor Day off, a student competes in the Miss America pageant, and more.

September 1, 2010—The Carl A. Fields Papers are made available to researchers at Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Fields was the first African American to hold a high-ranking position at an Ivy League school.

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Carl A. Fields (1938-2009)

September 4, 1944—The Princeton Bulletin refers to the suspension of classes on this date for Labor Day as “one of those rare occurrences like Halley’s Comet, or the 17-year locusts or a total eclipse of the sun.”

September 5, 1843—The U.S.S. Princeton is launched in Philadelphia.

U.S.S. Princeton

Photo from Daily Princetonian.

September 6, 1999—Princeton junior Victoria Paige ’01 competes in the Miss America pageant, earning a spot in the top 10.

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Victoria A. Paige’s Nassau Herald photo (2001).

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

This Week in Princeton History for August 25-31

Here at the Princeton University Archives we love to bring the history of the school, students and alumni to life by sharing what happened “This Week in Princeton History,” which will be an ongoing series here on our blog.

For the week of August 25-31:

Nassau Hall hosts the first legislature of New Jersey, an alumnus sets a new record, Princeton undergraduates keep the Pennsylvania Railroad running, and more.

August 27, 1776—The first legislature of New Jersey meets in the College library in Nassau Hall.

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Nassau Hall Iconography Collection, AC177, Box 2, Folder 5.

August 28, 1982—Preparatory school headmaster Ashby “Brud” Harper ’39, winner of the 9 varsity P’s, becomes the oldest person to swim the English Channel at 65 years old.

August 28-29, 1943—100 Princeton undergraduates are excused from classes to volunteer handling freight at the Olden Avenue Yards of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Trenton.

August 29, 1804—For promotion of science, Noah Webster deeds to Nassau Hall royalties from some of his publications: American Spelling Book, American Selections, and Elements of Useful Knowledge.

August 31, 1952—Town Topics names then-Assistant Dean of the College Jeremiah Stanton Finch their “man of the week,” noting his commitment to making a Princeton education “as close as possible to the ideal.”

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Photo from 1958 Bric-a-Brac.

Fact Check: We aim for accuracy, but, if you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us!

Princeton University Records Management Launches New Website

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Princeton University Records Management has a new look (and a new online address)! The new records management website replaces the records management guidelines website created in 2007. Those who visit the original website will be redirected to the new website, which includes new records management policies and retention schedules as well as information on a wide range of records management topics. The website is the place for University employees to start when they are determining how to manage the records in their custody.

Some features of the records management website include:

  • Policies and procedures
  • A records management manual
  • A new record retention schedule for University financial records (coming Summer 2014)
  • The records retention guidelines that were introduced in 2007, which will continue to provide guidance until formal retention schedules are created in these areas
  • A menu of services and training provided by Princeton University Records Management
  • An integrated blog

Please browse through the website and send feedback. Our goal is to help you integrate records management into your workflow as seamlessly as possible.

Meet Mudd’s Jarrett M. Drake

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Name/Title: Jarrett M. Drake, Digital Archivist

Responsibilities: As the digital archivist at Mudd, I’m responsible for the development, implementation, and execution of processes that facilitate the effective acquisition, description, preservation, and access of born-digital archival collections acquired by the University Archives. The emphasis on ‘born-digital’ is to distinguish my work from that of digitization, which is a process that converts analog material into digital formats. Born-digital records are those that originated as microscopic inscriptions of 0’s and 1’s on a piece of magnetic media.

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“Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM) of a Magnetic Hard Disk,” taken from MIT

Preserving and providing access to those 0’s and 1’s, or bits, is too challenging a problem for any single person to solve, so many of my duties require me to collaborate with others in the University Archives and across campus. This often involves me meeting with our University Archivist, the Assistant University Archivist for Technical Services (to whom I report), and the University Records Manager. As exciting as it is to dive into the past by hacking away at old and new media—and trust me, doing this is really exciting—the most important element of my success is laying the infrastructure for our Digital Curation Program, which we initiated two months ago. Infrastructure is invisible to most of us but critical for all of us. More on that in future posts.

Lest I lead you to believe that I work exclusively in the digital realm, I also do things that archivists have always done: processing paper records and performing reference services in person, on the phone, and over email.

Ongoing projects: Because our Digital Curation Program is rather nascent, I spend a majority of my time drafting policy documents for the program as well as revising workflows for how we process born-digital records. Outside of that, I contribute to several Library-wide working groups and task forces. When I’m not doing one of those two things, you can probably find me working with a new digital preservation tool or strengthening my command of various operating systems.

Worked at Mudd since: I began at Mudd in November of 2013. Prior to Princeton, I served as University Library Associate at the Special Collections Library of the University of Michigan, a post I maintained for nearly two years while I completed my master’s degree in information science at the School of Information. Before Michigan, I had brief stints at the Maryland State Archives and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Why I like my job/archives: Contrary to general perception, archivists are concerned equally with the future as they are with the past. Yes, we manage records that document past activities, but we do so only for future use by researchers. In this way, I see my job as a digital archivist as one that preserves the past in order to promise the future. That promise is harder to ensure when it comes to digital records, but it’s a challenge that I find to be terrifyingly exciting and incredibly meaningful. Also, I learn something new each and every day, which is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work.

And though I put a lot of time and energy into curating bits, I joined the profession because I like people. I enjoy assisting them with their research questions and it gratifies me that I can contribute to the creation of new knowledge about the past. The roughest days I encounter are immediately turned around when a researchers says “I can’t thank you enough for your assistance” or “without you, I’m not sure I could have answered this question.” Those are my reminders that I chose the right profession.

Favorite item/collection: Recently I responded to a researcher who sought information about the first Japanese student to graduate from Princeton. I spent some time digging around our Historical Subject Files and our Alumni Undergraduate Records collection to learn that in 1876, Hikoichi Orita was the University’s first Japanese student to graduate.

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Authored by Walter Mead Rankin, 1884. Found in “Orita, Hikoichi,” Box 148, Undergraduate Alumni Records, Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

In addition to his alumni files, we have a copy of his student diary, which I told myself I would read slowly over my career. It’s in English, in case you’re interested in viewing it, too. This is a classic example where a researcher informs the interests of the archivist, instead of vice versa.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered letters donated to University Archives

by: Dan Linke

With the rise of email more than 20 years ago, many have lamented the decline of the handwritten letter, but with her new book, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Nina Sankovitch has done much more than that.  Drawing on letters from across the ages, she explains why putting pen to paper can communicate much more than the thoughts and ideas on the page.

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Inspired by a cache of letters written by a Princeton undergraduate to his parents that she uncovered in the tool shed of a dilapidated New York home she bought more than a decade ago, Sankovitch originally read the letters in small batches, as a break from the toils of mothering three young children.  Years later, with her oldest son readying himself for college, Sankovitch revisited the letters and began her mediation on the important  and wide range of human connections that letters make, using the Princeton student’s letters and their discovery as the basis for the book’s first chapter.

James B. Seligman

The letters were composed by James B. Seligman, Class of 1912. According to his Nassau Herald entry, “Jimmie” grew up in New York City, was a member of Clio, studied economics, and hoped to go into banking.  He was also Jewish (“Hebrew” in the parlance of the day), just one of five such students in a class of almost 300.  He became an independent stockbroker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange where he was a floor trader.  The February 22, 1941 New Yorker called him “one of the wittiest men on the Floor.”

That wit is reflected in his surviving letters.  Some excerpts that Sankovitch highlights in her book:

“I am getting a good college education, developing like a film, apologizing to the grass every time I step on it, scrambling like an egg, yelling like a bear, telling the upperclassmen to go to @#$ …”

 “I am once more sorry to say, with tears in my nose, and with shaking toes, etc that I didn’t pass French…Thanking you again for your kind applause, I will close as Le Student Francais.”

“Chapel was great. I never laughed so much in my life.”

And in answering what he called the “ponderous interrogations” sent by his mother: “my diet consists principally of food.  My health is fine.”

He also wrote of his classes – “Woodrow Wilson lectures to us in Jurisprudence – It is a treat to listen to him speak.”

Now Sankovitch has donated Seligman’s correspondence, consisting of about 100 letters and postcards, to the Princeton University Archives, and they will join those of other students in the Student Correspondence and Writings Collection (AC334). This collection, along with a number of others, contains the correspondence of about two dozen students ranging over three centuries, and collectively it provides insights into Princeton undergraduate life that can be found nowhere else.  The earliest letters date from 1768 and the most recent is a collection of printed emails from a member of the Class of 1997.

Records Management and University Archives: Perfect Together

The job of the Princeton University Archives is to keep in perpetuity the University records that should be kept, and the University Records Manager, Anne Marie Phillips, helps to identify them.  She also helps offices determine how long non-permanent records must be kept before they can be destroyed.

With the University’s first financial records retention schedule coming online, she identified almost 300 boxes of journal vouchers and check registers from the 1950s and 1960s held within the Archives that should have been destroyed long ago.

containersThese records filled 21 bins (see above photo) and weighed over 6,000 pounds.  Now that shelf space can be used for permanent records that the Archives will keep for as long as there is a Princeton.

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