Protecting country and Indians: The records of Junius Wilson MacMurray (1843-1898)

How likely is it to find Civil War letters and diaries among the papers of politicians, journalists, and diplomats that are kept at Mudd Library? Or Colum­bia Plateau Indian pictographs? Meet Junius Wilson MacMurray, whose records are kept among the papers of his son John Van Antwerp MacMurray, a diplomat most of our blog readers will know from his films of China (1925-1929) which have been discussed extensively in our audiovisual blog The Reel Mudd. As few people know about his father Junius Wilson MacMurray’s papers, we will be sharing some particularly interesting records below.

photo of Junius Wilson MacMurray, October 1862

J.W. MacMurray, 1st Lieutenant at the 1st Missouri Light Artillery, October 1862

Junius Wilson MacMurray was born in Missouri on May 1, 1843, the son of Irish immigrant and blacksmith John Dennison MacMurray and Eliza Wilson. According to a detailed handwritten and typescript description of his military career, which includes a list of all battles in which he participated during the Civil War (find it here) he trained as an engineer and volunteered for Engineer Battalion “B” of the National Guard of Missouri from October to December 1860. When the Civil War broke out, two weeks before his 18th birthday, he did not join the Confederates like most young men he knew, but started recruiting volunteers for the Union army instead. His battery was sworn in with the 1st Missouri Volunteers and reorganized into the 1st Missouri Light Artillery.

Junius Wilson MacMurray’s papers consist of his personal and business correspondence, as well as his army correspondence and papers, his  account papers and ledgers,  and his diaries and notebooks, and writings. For researchers in Civil War or Native American history MacMurray’s army correspondence and papers are the most interesting. They document his career as a volunteer in the Army of the Republic during the Civil War, and subsequent service in the regular army from 1866 until his death in 1898. The records include copies and drafts of his reports concerning the Vicksburg campaign (1863) and the Powder River Indian expedition (June-November, 1865), as well as his investigation into land disputes of the Lower Columbia River Indians (1884), when he met their leader and prophet Smohalla (c. 1815-1895).

Image of the back of letter from MacMurray to his mother, November 6, 1863

Back of the letter from Junius Wilson MacMurray to his mother, November 6, 1861

Of additional interest is MacMurray’s personal correspondence, which includes two letters to his mother, written on November 6, 1961 and July 14, 1863. The letters contrast sharply. In the first, written in Springfield, Missouri in barely legible pencil, he reassures his mother that he is very well fed: “Live on butter, biscuit, Turkey. Fresh beef, honey-chickens, potatoes, &c.&c., so you see I’m not starving but on the contrary am getting fat and will some of these days make a fine mess for the buzzards of Wilsons Creek,” he wrote (view first page). Despite the chilling reference to the battlefield where Union General Nathaniel Lyon had been killed only three months earlier, he added on the back: “Now for Lords sake don’t write me a sorrowful letter as I don’t think of anything sorrowful since Freemont [John Charles Frémont] has been superceeded–and there is a possibility of a fight in view. Send me papers!”

Junius Wilson MacMurray to his mother Elisa Wilson MacMurray, July 14, 1863 (view full page)

The second letter, however, has a very different tone. It was written on July 14, 1863 in a camp near Jacinto, Mississippi, one day before the end of the Siege of Jackson.

The nights are cold (not cool) sometimes, there are no mosquitoes, but any amount of snakes and bugs. The timber is mostly yellow pine, the soil poor and [word missing] the most miserable and downtrodden people I ever saw. Nothing scarcely to eat, dirt and filth predominate although the wealthy (cotton dealers, judges, and civil officers) have good clean houses.  Early Spring chicken 50 cts, late (smaller than your fist) ones 25 & 30. Milk 25 cts per quart (very poor) eggs–they laugh at you–In fact, Southwest Missouri after all [Sterling] Price did to it is a paradise to this dessert. (view second page)

MacMurray’s papers include two diaries kept in 1863, of which only one appears to be MacMurray’s. The diary contains daily entries in ink or pencil with occasional mechanical drawings of what look like transportation devices, and includes descriptions of the battle of Vicksburg. Shown below are the pages for the last two days of the Vicksburg Campaign, with a transcription of the entry for July 4, the day of the final victory.

MacMurray’s diary opened for July 4, 1963, the last day of the Vicksburg campaign (full view)

Today, usually a glorious one–was more so than any of its predecessors. Vicksburg surrendered and our army marched in at 10 AM. Men & officers appeared in their best. I went in and met Sam Carlisle, Charlie Hitchcock, Larry Hutchinson John Sadd & John Newmann, old friends. I also met Booren (?) at dinner at dinner–visited the river and saw the river fleet all decked out with the flags of all nations. The transports came down and filled the levee (?) for some distance. Everything went merry as a marriage ball. For  few [illegible] will ever forget this day who were in Vicksburg.

Although MacMurray took obvious pride in his army career, he also had ambitions to teach and be a scholar. He served on detail as professor of military science and tactics at the University of Missouri (1872-1873) and  at Cornell University (1873-1875). His last post of service on detail was at Union College at Schenectady, New York, where he was in charge of sanitary and landscape engineering and taught photography (1879-1883). That he ended up in Schenectady was not accidental: in 1873, he had married Henrietta Wiswall Van Antwerp, daughter of the banker John H. Van Antwerp of Albany. Their son John Van Antwerp MacMurray was born there in 1881, the third child, after two daughters. In Schenectady MacMurray edited  A History of the Schenectady Patent by J. Pierson at al. (Albany, 1883). He tried to use his connections to stay longer, but in vain. He was sent to Vancouver Barracks, WA to serve under Nelson A. Miles (1839-1925). It was Miles who ordered him to investigate land disputes of the Lower Columbia River Indians in 1884.

J.W. MacMurray, circa 1890

One of our researchers, Richard Scheuerman from Seattle Pacific University, the author of Finding Chief Kamiakin: The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot (WSU Press, 2008), worked with several of the region’s Indian tribes. According to him MacMurray was a remarkably enlightened thinker among military officials for his time.  “I have found that he was significantly responsible for arranging applications for title to many properties along the Columbia and Snake rivers under the terms of the Indian Homestead Act,” he wrote us in 2009. “This work did not endear him to many of his contemporaries, but thanks to his selfless service much of this land remains today under Indian ownership and surely would have been lost to them otherwise.” After spending considerable time with their leader and prophet Smohalla. MacMurray shared his observations about the “Dreamers” of the Columbia River Valley in a lecture to the Albany Institute, which was published in 1887.

Page with Native American writing, folded into MacMurray’s notebook (view full page)

Among MacMurray’s diaries and notebook is one he labeled “Col(umbi)a Indians 1884,” which he kept during his investigations. According to Scheuerman, who transcribed the notebook, it provides significant information on Columbia Plateau religion beliefs. Folded inside the notebook is an intriguing piece of paper (shown right). When we asked Scheuerman if he could tell us something about it, he turned out to have wondered about it himself. About two-thirds of the images seem to be Columbia Plateau Indian pictographs, while the other third may be Indian horse brands. “Plateau Indians widely used branding in the 19th century as they maintained enormous horse herds along the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake rivers, all places we know that J.W. MacMurray visited at that time,” according to Scheuerman. If there is anybody out there who is able to enlighten us further, we would love to hear from you!

MacMurray stayed in touch with Nelson Miles, with whom he appears to have been quite friendly. His personal correspondence includes several original letters that he wrote after Miles was promoted to general in 1890, including two letters about Smohalla (the correspondence can be viewed here). The correspondence does not include replies, and it is not sure if the letters ever reached Miles, or whether he possibly returned them to MacMurray or to his widow at a later stage. The correspondence does contain copies of letters of recommendation, however. Miles recommended MacMurray for a promotion to major on June 15, 1892. Sadly, MacMurray received this only in 1897, only two months before he died of yellow fever, which he contracted when in command of the Post of Fort Barrancas, Florida during an outbreak in 1897. When Junius Wilson MacMurray died, his son John Van Antwerp MacMurray was a freshman at Princeton University. That is why his papers, hence those of his father, have ended up at Mudd Manuscript Library.

(With thanks to Richard Scheuerman).


“She Flourishes:” Chapters in the History of Princeton Women.

Mudd Manuscript Library’s new exhibition features women at Princeton, from the days of Evelyn College (1887-1897), mainly attended by daughters of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary professors, to the appointment of Shirley Tilghman as the first woman president of Princeton University in 2001. For the first time our exhibit is accompanied by historical film footage from the archives. This compilation of segments from films and videos, most of which was featured previously in The Reel Mudd, is shown here.

The footage covers forty years of history of Princeton women, from the admission of Sabra Meservey as the first woman at the Graduate School in 1961 to Shirley Tilghman’s presidency. Subjects covered include the introduction of coeduation, student activism and Sally Frank, and activities of the Women’s Center and SHARE (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, and Education).

The compilation opens with footage of the Class of 1939’s junior prom in 1938 (taken from its Class film), which was attended by 606 women (all listed by name in the Daily Prince). Women only entered academic life at Princeton in 1961, when Sabra Meservey was admitted at to the Graduate School. The footage at 0:37 shows Meservey’s humorous account of her initial conversation with President Robert Goheen, who ultimately oversaw the introduction of undergraduate coeducation in 1969, and wanted to use Meservey as a “test case” at the Graduate School. (For the full story, see the the blog about the Celebration of Coeducation at the Graduate School.)

The only filmed recollections about the early years of coeducation were found on the documentary Looking Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni (1:32), created on the occasion of Princeton’s 250th anniversary in 1996. The changes on campus did not please everybody. In 1974 Princeton icon Frederick Fox ’39 reached out to disgruntled alumni in the film A Walk in the Springtime, pointing out, perhaps tongue in cheek, that Nassau Hall’s two bronze tigers were male and female (3:19). In the following fragment, taken from the short Academy award winning film Princeton, A Search For Answers (1973), women feature prominently (3:55).

The last fragments feature woman activism and the gains of the women’s movement of the 1970s and the 1980s. Two fragments were taken from the Class of 1986’s Video Yearbook: a speech from Sally Frank ’80, who sued the last three all-male eating clubs (4:18), and a Women’s Center sit-in in May 1, 1986 (4:45). The last two fragments have not been featured yet in The Reel Mudd but will be shortly. The first is a sketch from “Sex on a Saturday Night,” a theater performance for freshmen about sexual harassment, presented by SHARE (5:11), The film ends with the inauguration of Shirley Tilghman (5:11) in 2001, taken from the documentary “Robert F. Goheen ’40, *48; Reflections of a President” (2006).

The exhibit “She Flourishes:” Chapters in the History of Princeton Women may be visited during Mudd Library’s opening hours on weekdays between 9.00 am and 4.45 pm. from now until the end of August 2012.

Johnny Sylvester ’37 and Babe Ruth

Baseball in October is often marked by premier teams, clutch plays, and memorable moments. One such moment came during Game Four of the 1926 World Series. In that game on Wednesday, October 6th, the St. Louis Cardinals hosted the New York Yankees and their great player Babe Ruth. Ruth would shine for the Yankees, hitting three home runs in a 10-5 victory. These home runs would be significant in the baseball world, but for one little boy, they appeared to be life-saving.
In 1926 Johnny Sylvester was an 11 year-old die hard Yankee fan living in Essex Fells, New Jersey. During the summer he was involved in a horseback riding accident in which he fell off his horse. The horse then kicked him in the head, leaving Sylvester with a bad infection that began to spread rapidly. Doctors feared he would not survive. While it is true that Sylvester was sick, there is some disagreement in the historical record as to how critically ill he actually was. Some think he had blood poisoning or a sinus condition or a back problem.
Soon telegrams reached the Yankees in St. Louis, notifying them of young Sylvester’s condition. There is some discrepancy in who initiated the contact—Sylvester himself or his father or uncle—but the end result was positive. Ruth responded by sending back two autographed balls (one from the Yankees, and one from the Cardinals). He also included a note to Johnny: “I’ll knock a homer for you on Wednesday.”
On Wednesday, October 6th, Ruth hit three home runs, ensuring a Yankee victory. Remarkably, Sylvester’s condition improved greatly after the game. He eventually made a complete turnaround, graduated from Princeton in 1937, served in the Navy during World War II, and was a successful businessman in Long Island City, New York.
While memorable and inspiring for Sylvester, when a year later Ruth was asked about the event, he reportedly said, “Who the hell is Johnny Sylvester?” The special home run message was not Sylvester’s last contact with Ruth. Sylvester visited Ruth at the opening game of the 1929 season at Yankee Stadium. And, while Ruth was in his declining years, Sylvester visited him at Ruth’s New York apartment.
A possibly apocryphal story about the Sylvester-Ruth connection revolves around the tradition of older classes carrying signs at P-rade. Though there is no proof of it extant in the Archives, Sylvester allegedly once carried a sign that read “Who the hell is Babe Ruth?” paying homage to the great slugger’s forgetful remark and Sylvester’s memorable connection to him.

–Kristen Turner

Meet Mudd’s Brandon Joseph


Name: Brandon Joseph ‘12

Major: History, with Certificates in African American Studies and American Studies
Title/Duties: Project Archivist Assistant. It is my responsibility to help the archivists at Mudd arrange and process collections. My duties include collecting details related to the contents of collections, rehousing and arranging collections, and creating folder lists for finding aids that guide researchers. Occasionally, I monitor the welcome desk, reading room, and page materials for patrons.
Recent projects: For the past year, I’ve been working with Adriane Hanson on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) records processing project. Before the ACLU project, I worked on the George S. McGovern Papers and the James V. Forrestal Papers.
Worked at Mudd since: January 2009, the beginning of the second semester of my freshman year.
Why I like my job/archives: Mudd is a relaxing place with a great staff. I enjoy coming into Mudd and engaging with the library’s collections in the middle of a hectic day of class. Also, as a history major and researcher, I am fascinated by some the materials that are unearthed as I help process a collection. At times, some of the materials that I come across at Mudd haven’t been seen or touched in decades. It’s fun to be a part of the recovery of lost information as I comb through the collections at Mudd.
Favorite item/collection: The collection of Historical Photographs, which provide a visual timeline to campus events of the past. It’s interesting to see how the buildings I live and work in on campus have developed over time. The Daily Princetonian Collection is another favorite of mine. I enjoy reading about how Princetonians from different eras digested and dealt with the social and administrative issues that arose on campus.

Student Question: What is the favorite part of the collections at Mudd? I love to check out the letters sent to the public officials and organizations that have collections at Mudd. I feel as if the letters from the general population in particular serve as a great way to measure public opinions related to a given topic. While processing the McGovern papers, for example, I found hundreds of letters from concerned citizens from across the nation. Some asked the presidential candidate to endorse a particular opinion, some praised McGovern for his work and wished him well during his campaign, while others blasted McGovern because of his policies. There were even tons of letters and drawings from school children organized by teachers from around the country. The letters in collections provide access to perspectives that may have been lost over time.

Meet Mudd’s Q Miceli

Thumbnail image for Q Miceli 001

Name: Q Miceli ’12

Major: Religion, with certificates in Creative Writing (Poetry) and Judaic Studies

Title/Duties: Technical Services Student Worker. My duties include sorting current University-generated publications as they arrive at Mudd in a process called “accessioning;” entering doctoral dissertations into a database (I used to pack dissertations on CDs to ship to ProQuest, before the University started accepting dissertations online); digitizing collections and running a macro to match scanned folders with physical barcodes; packing collections to send to offsite storage and scanning the box barcodes to discharge them; looking up duplicates in the library catalog; moving boxes; paging materials for patrons; and sometimes monitoring the front desk and reading room.

Recent projects: This past academic year, I made a folder list for part the James Hugh Keeley, Jr. Papers (MC 191) using Archivist’s Toolkit (and a mask and gloves, since these papers had been stored in a chicken coop and sustained severe rodent damage during that time). This summer, as with summer 2010, I cataloged over 1,000 senior theses, double-checking the information in the departmental databases with the physical copies of the theses, assigning each thesis a number, and shelving the boxes of theses. Most recently, I sorted the University-generated accessions by sponsoring department in the accessions drop box.

Q Miceli2

Worked at Mudd since: I started in May 2010 and worked full-time for most of the summer. Then I continued as a technical services student during the 2010-11 school year and for June 2011. After a ten-week internship with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, I returned to Mudd for the 2011-12 school year. It’s going to be difficult to leave Mudd when I graduate!

Why I like my job/archives: “The world is quiet here.” -Lemony Snicket. The hum and energy of people working to make materials more accessible brings me a sense of peace and shows me that there can be order in the universe. I like how archival work mixes the physical (moving boxes) with the intellectual (creating intellectual order out of a collection of materials). I think the immediate goal of archives is to maintain a repository of well-ordered information that is accessible to patrons, and I like knowing that my work contributes to an ultimate goal of a well-informed public.

Favorite item/collection: It’s a toss-up between the Senior Thesis Collection (AC 102) and the Arthur J. Horton Collection on Coeducation (AC 039). While cataloging the Class of 2010 and the Class of 2011 senior theses, I read many a student’s independent work and saw how much students have learned (or not!) in their four years. I scanned part of the Arthur J. Horton Collection on Coeducation, and some of the ill-informed comments regarding the ultimate goals of females attending universities–i.e., women only go to college to get their “MRS” degree–made me laugh and feel thankful that the university’s attitude towards non-males has improved since then.

Student Question: Besides your senior independent work, what else from your time as a Princeton student would you like to keep in “Princeton’s Attic?”
I would donate my diaries and collages from my time at Princeton in order to make another primary source available to researchers who want to document the experience of undergraduates on campus. These materials would serve as a counterpoint to the critical part of my senior thesis. In the event of someone trying to extrapolate from my senior thesis my views of the world twenty years later, I would donate them posthumously, in neatly ordered boxes so as to save some student worker the trouble of deciphering my handwriting. I would also donate the original note cards for the recipes that I developed in the Witherspoon, Pyne, and Lockhart kitchens for use by future undergraduates hankering after dorm-friendly cake.

Bonus Question: Why “Q?” Short answer: I was one of five Stephanies in my high school graduating class, and since I went to school with the same people from first grade on up, we had different nicknames to distinguish us. Long answer: I began collecting plush cats when I was four. When I was five or six, I thought, instead of calling myself a pet owner–for I viewed my cat collection as my pets and playmates–I should call myself Ownie. Ownie is a either feminized or diminutive version of owner. Like the nickname Suzy Q, my mother (Joanne Naples ’85) began calling me Ownie Q. Then my brother shortened that to Q. I’ve been known as Q since high school, and that’s how I sign the Honor Code.

“Princeton: A Search for Answers,” 1973

During a morning session of the President’s Conference in the early 1970s, a member of the student panel told the assembled alumni that she had come to Princeton “not to find a way of making a living, but instead to find a way of making a life.” Filmmakers Julian Krainin and DeWitt Sage used this statement in their proposal in 1972 for a new recruitment film for Princeton University. “It seems that it should be the responsibility of a great university not so much to answer the question of how to “make a life,” but to present the student with at least the tools and courage with which he or she might discover the answer.”

The resulting film Princeton: A Search for Answers won an Oscar  in 1974 for Documentary Short Subject. Film producer and director Joshua Logan ’31, who had started his stage writing and directing career in Princeton’s Triangle Club, was one of the first to see it. “I not only believe that it is a moving, funny, and stimulating account of a University I once knew but had almost forgotten,”  he wrote to his fellow members of the Academy. “It tells about the gleam that flits across the human mind and gives us all something to hope for, to live for. It makes the human race quite a bit more respectable then (sic) we have recently thought it to be.” The film which has recently been remastered (2013) is featured here.

In order to write the film treatment and script, Dewitt Sage spent several months on campus, attending classes and seminars, and talking with students, faculty and staff. Once the film treatment was approved, Julian Krainin took over to supervise the actual camera work. During 1972 and early 1973 fourteen and a half hours of 16mm color footage was shot for the thirty minute film. The outtakes are kept in the University Archives. To accompany the film, the Office of Communications produced a handsome brochure with quotes and information about the faculty featured (see SearchForAnswers.pdf).

As already suggested by the title, the film’s main emphasis is on education, scholarship, and student-instructor relations. The film includes footage of tutorials and lectures by physics professor and Dean of the Faculty Aaron Lemonick (1:50, 9:11), and professors Edward Cone (Music, 3:01, 29:48), John Wheeler (Physics 7:05), Daniel Seltzer (English, 12:39), and Ann Douglas Wood (English, 25:02). Wheeler is filmed during a lecture about the implications of black holes (he is credited with coining the phrase in 1967), while Dan Seltzer teaches a Shakespeare acting class and lectures about Henry IV (Part 2). Additional footage features Princeton president William Bowen during a question and answer session with alumni and undergraduates (9:55, 26:11, 27:49) and the work of two graduate students: Niall O’Murchadha (Physics, 5:10, 26:51) and Maury Wolfe (Architecture, 16:11).

Produced only a few years after the introduction of co-education in 1969, at a time when diversification of the student body was a priority for Princeton, women and African American students feature prominently in campus scenes (9:40, 20:56, 24:36) and in the class rooms. There is little emphasis in the film on extracurricular activities. In addition to footage of the Glee Club singing Bach in Alexander Hall (directed by Professor of Music Walter Nollner, 17:47), sport scenes are limited to marathon running and rowing (23:25). Additional footage includes students sharing their views of Princeton in a pub (19:45, the legal drinking age was still eighteen!) Some historical photographs and footage is shown at 22:27, including a fragment of a chemistry lecture by the famous Hubert Alyea (previously featured) and the Triangle Club.

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Being Jewish at Princeton: from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s days to the Center of Jewish Life

“The Princeton of today is not the Princeton of Scott Fitzgerald. And by that I mean you can feel comfortable being Jewish, you can feel comfortable being Asian, you can feel comfortable being African American. And while this might not always have been true (…) it is definitely true today.” The speaker is Erik Ruben ’98 (1:46), one of the students featured in the promotional video below about the Center for Jewish Life, which opened in 1993. Today’s entry takes a brief look at the history of the admission of Jewish students at Princeton since the 1920s.

F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s 1920 debut novel, This Side of Paradise, was set at Princeton and reflected the atmosphere of the eating clubs and of the university itself, which (not to Princeton’s liking) he described as “the pleasantest country club in America.” Fitzgerald wrote his book at a time when some northeastern colleges and universities, particularly in urban areas where many Eastern European Jewish immigrants had settled, perceived they had a “Jewish problem” in that if they admitted too many Jewish students, Protestant middle and upper class students would be driven away. Columbia, which had the largest Jewish enrollment at 40%, was the first to impose a quota in 1921. Princeton, however, always claimed not to use quotas. As late as 1948 Radcliffe Heermance, Princeton’s first director of admissions from 1922 to 1950, vehemently denied a claim that Princeton used a quota to keep Jewish students under 4%. “We’ve never had a quota system, we don’t have a quota system, we will never have a quota system” he told the Daily Princetonian.

Hutchins121770.jpgA letter from former University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins, who visited Princeton President John Grier Hibben in the early 1930s, indicated otherwise. Hutchins wrote Princeton senior Steven L. Buenning ’71 In December 1970, as Buenning was seeking information for his senior thesis, a biography about Hibben. In the letter Hutchins recalls how he had asked Hibben about the number of Jewish students at Princeton. According to Hutchins, Hibben claimed that the number just happened, whereupon his wife exclaimed: “Jack Hibben, I don’t see how you can sit there and lie to this young man. You know very well that you and Dean Eisenhart get together every year and fix the quota.”
This anecdote has been quoted in several books, and in their footnotes the authors refer to Buenning’s thesis only, which includes quotes from the letter. Above we reproduce the original letter, which is found in Hibben’s presidential papers in the Office of the President Records (AC117, Series 14, Box 65, folder 6). The first paragraph, in which Hutchins recalls Hibben’s professed ignorance about the reasons why black students did not come to Princeton, is remarkable in itself. Unlike Yale and Harvard, Princeton did not admit African American students  until World War II (the first four African Americans were in the Navy V-12 program).  For more information about African American students at Princeton, see our previous blog.

Heermance limited Jewish enrollment by developing an admission policy that put an emphasis on “character,” which, however subjective, was still regarded as defensible in public. Criteria like “manhood,” “leadership” “participation in athletics” and “home environment and companions” were assessed by using interviews, letters of recommendation, and a social ranking system. A powerful disincentive to even apply was the anti-Semitic reputation of Princeton’s eating clubs, which considered most Jews “unclubbable.”

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A lesson for fundraisers: the solicitation process for “A Campaign for Princeton,” 1982

In a previous blog we discussed the three-year $53 Million Campaign, launched at the beginning of Robert’s Goheen’s presidency in 1959. On an even larger scale was the five-year fundraising campaign that was launched on February 19, 1982 during the presidency of Goheen’s successor William G. Bowen. The goal for “A Campaign for Princeton” was set at $275 million (raised to $330 million in January 1984). Three years into the campaign, the fund drive ran like a “well-oiled machine,” according to the Daily Princetonian, bringing in more than $1 million a week. Fifty-five professionals worked with a body of 2.500 alumni volunteers, spread over seventeen regions, who were trained to ask fellow alumni to give at their maximum capacity. Featured here is “You Ask For It: An Introduction to Campaign Solicitation,” an instructional film that, however much a product of the 1980s, may still be of interest for today’s fundraisers.

The campaign goals were summarized in a Campaign Primer, published at the launch of the campaign. A full list and description of the goals, which included academic programs, facilities, student aid, and residential colleges, can be found at  CampaignPrimer.pdf.

Alumni solicitors prepared to “make an ask” to prospective donors with the help of a written solicitation plan, provided by Princeton’s campaign staff. The solicitation plan, according to the Volunteer Handbook, contained particular information about the “prospect” as well as specific guidelines on how to work with the person to “help ensure maximum giving.”  For the first time in Princeton’s fundraising history, alumni with capital gift potential were asked to make one single commitment to the campaign that included both Annual Giving (AG) and a capital gift (this was known as a “joint ask”). As the campaign was spread over five years, it allowed for all alumni to be addressed with their class’ major reunion goals in mind.

Solicitors were not meant  to be bashful about their “ask.” Outright gifts of cash or assets (generally securities) were first priority, according to the Volunteer Handbook, but if that was a problem, other charitable tax planning techniques were encouraged. “If you are persuaded that a donor simply cannot meet the requested level through an outright gift, you should then introduce Planned Giving to the negotiation.” Since these techniques were rather sophisticated, further negotiations were referred to Princeton’s Planned Giving staff.

The above VHS video features two alumni ‘novices’ to the soliciting process, who ask an experienced alumnus named Jim, a regional chairman in charge of Major Gifts, in a staged interview for advice. The woman in the film is in charge of “Special Gifts” for her Class’ 10th Reunion, and the male novice alumnus is asked to solicit money for a large capital gift from a man who never donated more than $2.500 for Annual Giving. The film lets Jim go back in history, showing one failed soliciting attempt at the beginning of his career, because he was not well enough prepared (1:05). This is followed by his account of one recent successful attempt, in which an alumnus ended up giving much more than he initially thought he could manage, partially through Planned Giving (5:03).

Although the University Archives contain a lot of information about the campaign itself, information about the VHS film featured here is lacking. In the lists of Regional Chairmen Major Gifts, provided in the Volunteer Handbook, there is no James or Jim, hence the people in the staged interview may not be actual alumni. If you can provide more information about the making of the film, please let us know!

For more information on the campaign itself, see The Story of A Campaign for Princeton, 1981-1986 by William McCleery.

This VHS video is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (Item no. 1422)

Post-War Princeton: The building of Firestone Library, the Dillon Gym, and Bicentennial celebrations, 1945-1949

From the start of the Depression until the end of World War II, construction activity at Princeton, like at other universities, was at a near standstill. The first buildings to be erected here as part of the post-war building boom on American campuses were the Dillon Gym and the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library. The four silent films discussed on this post, which are all in color, capture the beginning of the construction of Firestone Library, the dedication of the Dillon Gym in June 1947, and other activities at the close of the bicentennial celebrations of 1946-1947 and the immediate years thereafter.

The origin of the 16mm film that is featured here is unknown. Although it seems excruciatingly slow at times, the 14 minute long time lapse footage spans almost one and a half years, during which the excavation work for Firestone Library was undertaken, the structure of the three underground floors almost completed, and the steel structure of the upper part of the library erected.

Firestone ground.jpgAs can be seen on this campus map, the space between Washington Road and the then library (what is now Chancellor Green and Pyne Hall) was quite open. During most of the film the camera is facing the Engineering Building on Washington Road (now Burr and Green Hall), and moves between the Joseph Henry House, home of the Dean of the College (the white house seen on the left) and the ’77 Laboratory (the square brick building with the crescent shaped windows on the right). This biology laboratory, donated by the Class of 1877 at its tenth reunion, was demolished in the summer of 1946, which is captured starting at 9:15. The ’77 Lab appears as a pile of rubble at 9:21, when the Bracket Dynamo Laboratory behind it becomes visible. This second lab is gradually broken down in the footage that follows.

The Joseph Henry House, however, was not destroyed but moved instead, for the third time since it was built in 1837. Although the camera focused on the excavation work, preparations for the move to its present location, which according to the Prince started in April 1946, can be followed from 8:40 at the top of the screen. The actual move took place at the end of May, and the house can be seen to have moved a few yards between 9:45 and 9:48. Most of the footage concerns the digging and excavation work prior to the construction work, which had started on Christmas Eve 1945, and was subcontracted to George M. Brewster and Sons (Turner Construction Company was the contractor). The work of Brewster’s “blasting crew,” which according to the Prince in March consisted of a “blast expert,” a “powder monkey” and twelve drillers, can be followed from 3:28, with two explosions visible at 4:35 and 6:48.

Only the last few minutes of the film (10:39-14.15), capture the beginning of the construction of the Firestone Library itself, starting with the lowest floor. The snow at 11.31, surrounding the concrete columns, indicates that a year has passed since the time lapse filming began. On January 15, 1947 the Prince wrote that most of the underground structure had been completed. The footage at 11.53, which includes a view on Nassau Street, must have been filmed during or shortly after February 1947, when the library, according to the Prince had risen above the ground. The film ends with footage of the building of the steel structure of the library’s three floors (13:11), the last shots of which indicating that it is springtime now (13:32).

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Princeton’s Bicentennial: Charter Day, October 19, 1946

In the 1946-1947 academic year, Princeton celebrated its 200th anniversary with a series of convocations and events, ending with a concluding ceremony, captured in a newsreel, which included a convocation address by US President Harry Truman. Today’s blog features another newsreel about the University’s bicentennial year that focuses on “Charter Day,” October 19, 1946. In addition to Princeton’s almost 200-year old charter and the “largest procession in Princeton history” at the time (which included 23 honorary degrees recipients), the newsreel addresses the beginning of intercollegiate football, depicting a re-enactment of the first football game between Princeton and Rutgers from November 6, 1869 during halftime of the 1946 Princeton-Rutgers game.

Princeton’s charter, granted to the University on October 22, 1746 (then still known as the “College of New Jersey”) is shown fleetingly in the newsreel (0:38). Readers of our regular blog already know that the charter, on intermittent display during the celebration of Mudd Manuscript Library’s 50th anniversary, is actually not the original (which was lost) but the second charter, drawn up in 1748. (An explanation can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions.) The famous early picture of Nassau Hall that follows at 0:48 is the copper engraving by Philadelphia artist Henry Dawkins (copied from a drawing by Princeton student William Tennent, Class of 1758), which was printed in Samuel Blair’s Account of the College of New Jersey (1764). For more information about the engraver, who was also a counterfeiter of paper money, see Julie Mellby’s Graphic Arts blog.

Over 500 people comprised the academic procession that opened and closed the morning’s convocation, according to the Prince, including faculty, trustees, representatives of all alumni classes and members of the Undergraduate Council. The procession included an official delegation from the United Nations, headed by Secretary General Trygve Lie, and members from the State Bicentennial Commission, including Walter E. Edge, Governor of New Jersey. Lie (1:42) and Edge (2:11) were among the 23 honorary degree recipients, as were the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, the Spanish writer Salvador De Madariaga, and the French philosopher Jacques Maritain (2:21–not all recipients are clearly visible).

The last eight minutes of the newsreel are occupied by the 38th Rutgers-Princeton football game in the afternoon (2:47), with a humorous reenactment of the first Rutgers-Princeton game of November 6, 1869 (5:51), considered the ‘birth’ of intercollegiate football. A description of the football game and the reenactment by Theatre Intime and members of the Rutgers soccer team can be found in the Prince. A copy of the program notes about the 1869 football game, with an explanation of the rules, may be downloaded at Twenty-four Stalwart Men.pdf. A second article from the program, summarizing the history of the Princeton-Rutgers football rivalry, can be viewed at  77 Years Princeton-Rutgers.pdf. More information about early football can be found in Football: the Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession by Mark Bernstein ’83, who wrote our previous blog entry.

The footage on this 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (part of item no. 0092).