This Week in Princeton History for July 20-26

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a beloved staff member dies, the opening of a new recreational center for military personnel on campus is announced, and more.

July 20, 1899—The Peary Relief Expedition arrives in the port of North Sydney, Nova Scotia with several Princeton professors on board. Their boat, the Diana, carries supplies for Robert Peary, who is exploring Greenland in his quest to reach the North Pole. The professors take the opportunity to conduct scientific research in the Arctic along the way.

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The Diana in port, July 20, 1899. Princeton Scientific Expeditions Collection (AC012), Box 9.

July 22, 1902—James Johnson, an escaped slave who became known as the “students’ friend” during his long sojourn working at Princeton, dies at the age of 87.

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James Johnson in the 1894 Bric-a-Brac.

July 23, 1797—In a letter to his ward and stepgrandson, George Washington Parke Custis, College of New Jersey (Princeton) Class of 1799, George Washington observes that “no college has turned out better scholars or more estimable characters than Nassau.”

July 26, 1943—In cooperation with the USO, the University announces the opening of a new recreation center in Murray-Dodge Hall for military personnel assigned to Princeton.

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Soldiers walking by Murray-Dodge Hall, ca. 1943. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP208, Image No. 5495.

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 13-19

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first African American head coach in the Ivy League is hired, a professor climbs a mountain, and more.

July 13, 1770—Students are outraged by a “Letter from the Merchants in New York to the Committee of Merchants in Philadelphia,” which they have somehow intercepted. The letter outlines the intent of the New York merchants to abandon a nonimportation agreement within the colonies. In response, the students process in front of Nassau Hall and burn the letter “with hearty Wishes, that the Names of all Promoters of such a daring Breach of Faith, may be blasted in the Eyes of every Lover of Liberty, and their Names handed down to Posterity, as Betrayers of their Country.”

July 14, 1970—Larry Ellis is named head coach of track and cross country at Princeton University, becoming the first African American head coach in the Ivy League. He will later coach at the 1984 Olympic Games.

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Larry Ellis (far left, middle row) with the 1981 Princeton University cross country team. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 168.

July 16, 1799—Three students are brought before the faculty on charges of “a violation of those Laws of the College which forbid the carrying of firearms.” They write a letter of apology and are permitted to continue their studies.

July 17, 1877—Princeton professor William Libbey makes the first recorded ascent of Mount Princeton near Nathrop, Colorado.

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Mount Princeton, undated. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 27.

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.

When Did the College of New Jersey Change to Princeton University?

Q: Dear Mr. Mudd,

When and why did the College of  New Jersey change its name to Princeton University?

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Sesquicentennial Archway, Princeton, New Jersey, October 1896. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box LP19, Image No. 1387.

A: The College of New Jersey, founded in 1746, changed its name to Princeton University during the culmination of the institution’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1896. Historically, the University was often referred to as “Nassau,” “Nassau Hall,” “Princeton College,” or “Old North.” Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for July 6-12

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the rowing crew makes it to the top, a senior makes a major fossil discovery, and more.

July 8, 1956—Princeton’s Crew beats England’s Royal Air Force in the final round of the international Thames Cup race, earning Princeton the designation of the best lightweight rowing crew in the world.

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Princeton competes in the Thames Cup race, July 1956. Princeton University Rowing Collection (AC223), Box 1.

July 9, 1776—The Declaration of Independence is read in Nassau Hall.

July 11, 1992—Princeton staffer Robert Lafond of Computing and Information Technology (now the Office of Information Technology/OIT) begins his seventh eight-day bike ride of 500 miles across five states to raise money for a shelter for abused children.

July 12, 1979—Princeton senior Fran A. Tannenbaum ’80 discovers fossilized dinosaur eggs on a paleontology expedition in Montana. They are the first nest of whole dinosaur eggs ever found in North America.

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John R. “Jack” Horner, a geology department research assistant who led Princeton’s 1979 paleontology expedition in Montana, shows off the dinosaur eggs Fran A. Tannenbaum ’80 discovered. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 145.

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.

The Origins of the “Ivy League”

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

Where did the term “Ivy League” come from, and what schools are in it?

A. The eight universities belonging to the Ivy League are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. The idea dates back to October 1933 when Stanley Woodward, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune, used the phrase “ivy colleges” to describe these schools, which had common athletic programs. In 1936, the student newspapers of these colleges printed an editorial calling for the formal establishment of an athletic league for the “ivy colleges.”

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Clipping from New York Herald Tribune, October 16, 1933.

When initiated by administrators in the eight schools in September 1946, the “Ivy Group” was concerned about growing interest in college athletics as a form of national entertainment, especially football. The advent of televised college football games only intensified the colleges’ resolve to develop rules governing the sport. The Ivies were to be places where athletes were primarily students who participated in sports as a part of an overall educational program, not professionals who were recruited for their physical abilities nor students who were exploited for the material gain of their institutions. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for June 29-July 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, head cheerleader Jimmy Stewart ’32 dies, students find themselves paying for a good deed, and more.

June 29, 1914—Construction begins on Palmer Stadium.

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Palmer Stadium under construction, August 3, 1914. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP72, No. 2869.

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Dear Mr. Mudd: Who Are You?

By Spencer Shen ’16

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q: Who are you?

A: Actually, I’m Dr. Mudd. I was a practicing cardiologist before joining the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. Later, I became a professor, a member of the Board of Trustees, and the Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. I also served as a trustee of Pomona College, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, and the Carnegie Institute of Washington.

MrMudd

As you can see, I was keenly interested in promoting higher education, and I contributed more than $10 million to private colleges and universities during my lifetime. In my will, I established the $44 million Seeley G. Mudd Fund of Los Angeles to support educational excellence through grants for the construction of buildings for teaching, learning, and research.

The fund stipulated that an institution requesting funds would pay at least half the cost of a new building. For the Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University, the fund’s trustees made a grant of $1,125,000 to Princeton toward the $2,500,000 needed to build it. The balance was contributed by other donors, many of whom were alumni or their relatives.

Princeton was not the only university to apply for a grant from the Mudd Fund. You can go to Yale University, Duke University, Lawrence University (Appleton, WI), and Pomona College (Claremont, CA) and visit a Mudd Library there. There is a large medical complex named for me at the University of Southern California, and Howard University also has a Mudd Medical Building in its College of Medicine. You can also visit Mudd science buildings at the University of Denver, Colby College (Waterville, ME), and Lehigh University. There is even a Seeley G. Mudd Chapel at Whitworth College (Spokane, WA). These are only a few of the buildings financed by the Mudd Fund.

I am often asked whether I am a relative of Samuel A. Mudd, the Maryland doctor imprisoned for aiding John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. We are only very distantly related, as fifth cousins thrice removed. I am the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Henry “Harry” Mudd (1685-1736), and Samuel A. Mudd is the great-great-great-grandson of Henry Mudd’s older brother Thomas Mudd, Jr. (1679 or 1680-1739). Henry and Thomas Jr. were two of Thomas Mudd’s (1647-1697) children. He had three wives, but both Thomas Jr. and Henry were born to Sarah (Boarman) Matthews. Thomas Mudd immigrated to America from Austria circa 1665. He is believed to be the first Mudd to have arrived in America, though it is possible that he also came with two of his brothers.

Mudd tree

Dr. Mudd can no longer do his own writing, so we confess that we answer his mail on his behalf.This post was originally written by Nancy M. Shader (2003) and Christopher Shannon (2007) for our old website. It has been revised and illustrated here by Spencer Shen ’16 as part of our launch of our new website

This Week in Princeton History for June 22-28

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a math professor receives worldwide acclaim, the school colors appear for the first time, and more.

June 23, 1994—Professor Andrew Wiles draws international attention with his announcement that he has found a proof for Fermat’s Last Theorem, a problem whose solution has eluded mathematicians for 350 years.

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Andrew Wiles. Photo from Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

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A Brief History of the Architecture of Nassau Hall

Nassau Hall first opened its doors on November 28, 1756. The College of New Jersey (Princeton) at that time consisted of its president, Aaron Burr, 70 students, and three tutors. Robert Smith, the carpenter-architect who would later construct Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia, designed Nassau Hall with the assistance of Dr. William Shippen of Philadelphia and William Worth, a local stonemason. Construction began on July 29, 1754 on part of the 4.5 acres donated by Nathaniel and Rebeckah FitzRandolph. Smith designed the building to withstand the variable climate of New Jersey in the Georgian-Colonial style popular at the time, choosing locally quarried sandstone as building material for the 26-inch thick walls. The building has three floors and a basement, measuring 176 feet by 54 feet, with a two-story central prayer hall in the rear of the structure, measuring 32 by 40 feet. Originally, there were five entrances to the building, three in the front and two in the rear. The rooftop cupola provided an elegant final touch to a modestly constructed building. When finished in 1756, Nassau Hall was the largest stone structure in North America.

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First known image of Nassau Hall, New American Magazine, 1760. Nassau Hall Iconography Collection (AC177), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 15-21

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first woman receives an honorary degree, a senior is arrested during civil rights activism, and more.

June 15, 1978—Elizabeth “Lisa” Najeeb Halaby ’73 marries King Hussein and becomes Queen of Jordan, taking the name Noor Al-Hussein.

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Elizabeth Halaby, future Queen Noor of Jordan, at a Princeton football game in 1969. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 223.

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