The first thing that usually comes to mind with reference to the history of Princeton University’s Triangle Club is probably a kick line of men in dresses. Until 1969, admission to Princeton was for men only, so putting on student plays meant men often took women’s roles, and performances usually poked fun at this fact. Triangle was a launching pad for several prominent students. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Stewart, and Jose Ferrer are among its notable members, all of whom seem to have taken the experiences the Club gave them as the foundation for their later careers, just to name a few examples.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Blair Tower clock gets a sophomore makeover, students give Grover Cleveland a birthday present, and more.
March 23, 1899—Poet John Whitcomb Riley, whose best known work, “Little Orphant [sic] Annie,” has continued to inspire numerous other artists, gives a poetry reading in Alexander Hall.
March 24, 1985—A group of sophomores decorate the Blair Tower clock’s face with Mickey Mouse.
It’s no secret that Princetonians love parades; thousands descend upon our small town for each annual celebration of Reunions, the capstone of which is the “P-Rade.” Each class wears its own specially-designed orange and black jacket for this parade. As the Alumni Association notes, this tradition has roots in other, older traditions. It began officially in 1896, when a parade to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the newly-renamed Princeton University (formerly the College of New Jersey) brought thousands of alumni back for a mile-long walk around town, many in costume. Yet a much less well-known and rather short-lived tradition from the early twentieth century was also called the “P-Rade” and treated locals to many unusual sights and sounds on St. Patrick’s Day each year. The St. Patrick’s Day P-Rade had its origins in the parade of students and alumni in 1896, too. This St. Patrick’s Day marks the 100-year anniversary of the last such P-Rade.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the women’s swimming team sets three national records, Jimmy Carter surprises students with an early morning walk on campus, and more.
March 16, 1967—David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, speaks informally with students and invited guests at the Woodrow Wilson School.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, undergrads form the Veterans of Future Wars, a civil rights protest turns violent, and more.
March 11, 1936—About 200 Princeton undergraduates form the Veterans of Future Wars, a cynical club that satirically petitions the U.S. government for a “bonus” similar to that of World War I veterans. The organization will achieve tremendous success, with chapters at many other colleges, as well as an auxiliary organization, the Future Gold Star Mothers, at Vassar. During World War II, nearly all members will join the military.
In 2013, 26,642 people applied to the Princeton University Class of 2018. Princeton made offers of admission to 1,983 of these applicants, an acceptance rate of 7.4%. Though many find this competitiveness discouraging, clearly a significant number choose to try their odds anyway. Yet how many applications can one imagine Princeton would get if the school announced that they might end up rejecting all of those who applied? This was the dilemma faced by female students in the winter of 1969: whether to apply to a university unsure if it would admit a single woman.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, juniors take up roller skating when cars are banned, a fire forces the school to start over almost from scratch, and more.
March 2, 1927—In order to protest the new “car rule,” which bans student use of automobiles on campus, Princeton juniors take to roller skating. The New York Times reports on their activities, noting the posters the skaters pinned to their shirts, with various comic slogans, including “And Mama said I could.” Five of the skaters will be photographed for the March 13, 1927 issue of the New York Herald Tribune. Although their efforts capture national attention, ultimately the car rule will remain in effect for decades.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Jewish students get their own space, the campus reels from discovering the true identity of a student, and more.
February 23, 1883—The Princetonian calls for coeducation in an editorial that asserts, “The time has now come … when the onward march of learning demands for woman the same attention as is bestowed upon men.” An added plus, the editorial says, will be an improvement in the morals of the male students. In order to ensure this, it proposes that female students be required to sign the following pledge: “We, the undersigned, solemnly promise, while connected with this institution, to receive no attention from any gentlemen who use tobacco or intoxicating liquors.” Princeton will actually become coeducational 86 years later, without requiring such a pledge from any student.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, James Brown performs, Jimmy Stewart ’32 reflects on his college days, and more.
February 16, 1996—James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” performs in Dillon Gymnasium.
By Dan Linke
Since tomorrow is Presidents Day, we wanted to take the opportunity to share some of Princeton University’s many connections to the presidents of the United States. We note that of the 43 men who have served as America’s presidents, we have confirmed that at least 25 and possibly as many as 29 have visited Princeton at some point, with eight gracing campus while serving as the nation’s chief executive.