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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When did people start referring to the College of New Jersey as Princeton?

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q: From your FAQ website: “In 1896, when expanded program offerings brought the College university status, the College of New Jersey was officially renamed Princeton University in honor of its host community of Princeton.”

I am currently editing a novel that includes both Nassau Hall and Princeton; would the use of “Princeton” be anachronistic in 1818? Or was “Princeton” used informally, much as “Augusta” in reference to that city’s Masters Tournament?

Princeton College

A: While the college was informally called Princeton before its official name change in 1896, the earliest reference in that form that we have here in the University Archives dates from 1853 (within a publication entitled “College As It Is”). Our sources before 1853 are scanty, due to a paucity of things created (no student newspaper yet, no yearbooks, etc.). However, your question piqued my interest and so I did a search of the America’s Historical Newspapers database and found frequent references to “Princeton College” or “Princeton college” starting in 1772. For fun, I have attached a photo (above) of that first article from a Philadelphia newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet [page 1, issue 43, Publication Date: August 17, 1772].

Update, May 29, 2014: Additional research into this revealed that an October 18, 1756 newspaper ad used the phrase “Prince-town college.” This is notable not only for its earlier date, but also that this was about five weeks before the college actually started operations in Princeton (November 28, 1756). According to Princeton, 1746-1896, by Thomas J. Wertenbaker, it was during fall break that the college moved from Newark to Princeton, “although carpenters and plasterers were still working in Nassau Hall when the session began” (p.40). So it can be safely said that the institution was known as Princeton from the very start of its time in the town of Princeton.

New-York Mercury, page 4, iss. 219; October 18, 1756

New-York Mercury, page 4, issue 219; October 18, 1756

Keen New Addition: Photo Album Purchase Contains Rare Images of Woodrow Wilson

by Dan Linke

img_016With more than 600 books on Woodrow Wilson, including Scott Berg’s recent autobiography, is there anything new about Woodrow Wilson? With the acquisition of the photo album of Paul Edward Keen *15, the answer is yes.

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His photo album contains a dozen images of Wilson’s 1913 inauguration and his 1915 return to campus to vote, as well as many more campus and local scenes that he took while studying at the Princeton Theological Seminary (1912-16) and Princeton University (MA1915).

About half the album contains photographs that Keen took elsewhere such as Philadelphia and Antietam, but the latter half is filled with images of the town of Princeton and the campuses of the University and Seminary.  In one 1915 photograph Wilson’s black mourning armband is visible on his upper left arm; Edith, his wife of 29 years, died in August 1914.

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Born in Yorkana, Pennsylvania in 1888, after graduation from the Seminary, Keen was ordained in the United Evangelical Church and led the congregation in Wrightsville, PA, before becoming a Bible professor at Allbright College (his undergraduate alma mater) in 1924.  Starting in 1928, he taught at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Napersville, Illinois, until his death in 1958.

Here are just 14 images found within the album:

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The album was purchased, in part, with funds provided by the Goreff/Neuwirth Charitable Trust in honor of Danielle van Jaarsveld, Class of 1995.

 

Allen Dulles and the Warren Commission

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death on Friday, November 22, has brought renewed attention to the Warren Commission and its conclusions on the assassination.  Then-retired CIA Director Allen Dulles served on the commission and the Mudd Manuscript

Warren Commission; F.B.I Investigation Report: Visual Aids, circa 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01586

Warren Commission; F.B.I Investigation Report: Visual Aids, circa 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01586

Library recently digitized five boxes of Dulles’ personal files documenting his work on the commission as part of our NHPRC funded large-scale digitization project.  Images and downloadable PDFs of every folder related to Dulles’ Warren Commission work are available by clicking on any of the folder titles from the Warren Commission section of our finding aid for the Allen Dulles Papers.

 

The Warren Commission material includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, preliminary drafts of the final Commission report, clippings, articles and interviews relating to Dulles’ service on the Warren Commission. The correspondence includes incoming and outgoing notes and letters, articles and clippings. Correspondents range from members of the Commission to citizens offering their own analysis of the assassination.

The administrative material documents the official activities of the Commission. Included are minutes, agendas, financial information and memoranda, which demonstrate how the Commission was organized and its guidelines for procedures. Also included are intra-Commission memoranda as well as memoranda with other governmental organizations, including the F.B.I. and Secret Service. The findings of these two agencies, plus the Dallas police, were submitted to the Commission, and much of this material documents the life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

First page of Psychiatric Report on L.H. Oswald, 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01581

First page of Psychiatric Report on L.H. Oswald, 1964: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/MC019/c01581

Over 64 boxes, and 96,900 pages of documents, from the Dulles Papers were digitized as part the NHPRC project.  In addition to the Warren Commission files, Dulles’ correspondence is now available online.  The correspondence includes letters to and from Kennedy and his brothers Robert and Edward as well as material related to Kennedy created after the assassination.

Kennan on Kennedy: “Dismal Foreboding for the Future of this Country”

George Kennan, like so many others, remembered exactly where he was and what he did upon hearing the news of John F. Kennedy’s death:

“I had been at a luncheon when I heard he had been shot, but on returning to the office shortly afterward I received confirmation of his death.  My reaction, in addition to the obvious shock, was one of the most dismal foreboding for the future of this country.  The first person I went to, to talk about it, was Robert Oppenheimer, and we both had the impression that this event marked in many ways a deterioration of the entire situation in this country.”

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George Kennan on Kennedy Assassination, November 1968

 

Kennan, most noted for his influence on U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and advocacy of a policy of containment, served as Kennedy’s ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1961 to July 1963.  Kennan’s correspondence with Kennedy dates from 1959 and includes an 8 page letter of foreign policy advice written to during the 1960 presidential campaign.

On October 22, 1963, exactly one month before Kennedy’s death, Kennan sent a handwritten note of encouragement to Kennedy, writing “I don’t think we have seen a better standard of statesmanship in White House in the present century.” Kennan also wrote that he hoped Kennedy would be discouraged “neither by the appalling pressures of your office nor by the obtuseness and obstruction you encounter in another branch of government,” and expressed gratitude to Kennedy “for the courage and patience and perception for which you carry on.”

 

Typescript of George Kennan's handwritten note to John F. Kennedy, October 22, 1963

Typescript of George Kennan’s handwritten note to John F. Kennedy, October 22, 1963

Kennedy responded a few days later, on October 28th saying he would keep the letter nearby “for reference and reinforcement on hard days.”  Kennedy died in Dallas only 26 days later.

John F. Kennedy letter to George Kennan, October 28, 1963

John F. Kennedy letter to George Kennan, October 28, 1963

The Kennedy-Kennan correspondence consists of 79 pages, a small percentage of the  72,545 pages of Kennan’s papers digitized as part of our NHPRC-funded digitization grant.  All of the digitized documents, including Kennan’s permanent correspondence files and unpublished writings can be accessed by clicking on the folder titles listed in the finding aid.

John F. Kennedy’s Princeton University undergraduate alumni file

Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  The Mudd Manuscript Library celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s election in 2010 with an exhibition and more than 30 Public Policy collections contain material related to Kennedy.

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Within the University Archives, his undergraduate alumni file contains his application to the University, details his brief time on campus and reasons for his departure, and some later correspondence with and about him.

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The first page of JFK’s Princeton Application

The file contains his application essay that is very similar to his Harvard essay, which was released in 2011. This digitized file is part of the Mudd Library’s ongoing digitization efforts.

by: Dan Linke