In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor starts a controversial contraceptive hotline, the campus agrees on a method for resisting the British crown, and more.
February 13, 1967—Vassar’s debate team argues the merits of coeducation in Whig Hall. Vassar’s team, arguing that Princeton should educate women, wins by a vote of 36-11. Both single-gender schools will ultimately become fully coeducational in the same year (1969).
A member of the Vassar debate team makes her argument in Whig Hall, February 13, 1969. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.
As we have previously pointed out, Princeton’s first African American undergraduates were not purposefully admitted: they were instead brought as part of a Navy training program during World War II. In 1945, Trustee Laurence G. Payson wrote to fellow member of the Class of 1916 John McFerran Barr to explain the presence of black students in response to apparent objections. “When the personnel [for the Navy unit] arrived its members included, unbeknownst to us in advance, four negroes.” Meanwhile, a law requiring tax-exempt institutions not to discriminate on the basis of race had recently passed in New Jersey. “If Princeton were to stand against the negroes who were admitted under the Navy War-time ROTC the Trustees would be in a very difficult spot.” He explained that future African American applications for admission would be evaluated by administrators at Nassau Hall (i.e., the Office of the President) rather than by the Office of Admission, then headed by Dean Radcliffe Heermance. (Heermance had revoked one black student’s offer of admission in the 1930s when he showed up to register for classes and his race became apparent.) In spite of Princeton’s wariness of challenge to its traditions, one young local African American resident found the presence of black students at the prestigious university inspirational in its seeming promise of new possibilities.
James Everett Ward ’47 and Arthur Jewell Wilson ’47 outside Laughlin Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP215, Image No. 5644.
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 ever to enroll defends her dissertation, the town decides not to rely exclusively on students to fight fires, and more.
February 6, 1975—The Borough of Princeton installs a traffic light at the corner of Washington Road and Prospect Avenue, in front of 1879 Hall.
New traffic light at Washington Road and Prospect Avenue, February 1975. Photo from Daily Princetonian.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, an investigation of a masked swordsman begins, a graduate carries the Olympic torch, and more.
February 1, 1884—The Princetonianquotes Andrew Wilkins Wilson, Jr. of the Class of 1883 on the school’s decision to establish a rowing crew: “In my opinion (as well as in that of almost our entire class) it is a pure waste of time, money and muscle for Princeton to compete with other colleges on the water.”
Mudd Library’s University Administrative Fellow for the fall 2016-2017 semester curated an online HistoryPin exhibit to document the history of minority sexualities at Princeton University. In this post, she provides broader context for the materials she chose to highlight.
By Ariana Natalie Myers GS
For much of its history, Princeton University students who experienced attraction toward their own gender kept it secret. Some alumni were later outed as homosexuals, such as Alan Turing ’38 (GS), famed World War II cryptographer who was the victim of brutal punishment by the British government once his sexuality was uncovered. Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings ’39, onetime roommate of President John F. Kennedy at Princeton and close associate of the Kennedy family, was outed by friends after his death in 1981.
Princeton University opened its doors to female undergraduates in 1969, and the first 130 women moved in for the fall semester. The decision-making process and its aftermath was fraught with controversy, with concerns ranging from the presumed “unproductivity” of female alumni to the costs of campus expansion to the anticipated loss of Princeton’s “unique charisma” and “manly dedication.” Many of those opposed to coeducation coalesced into the organization Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP). Proponents of coeducation argued that the proximity of women would decrease homosexuality. This latter position was tacitly supported by Dr. Louis E. Reik ‘33, University Director of Mental Health, and his associate Dr. Willard Dalrymple, Director of University Health Services, in an interview with the Daily Princetonian in 1966 in which Reik stated that a “tendency which was latent before might well be strengthened here” (on a single-gender campus). In a subsequent interview with Dr. Reik in 1969, he contradicted his prior statements and argued that coeducation would not have a notable effect on homosexuality, since he considered that it developed before the age students typically attended college.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a drawing is held for room assignments in a new dorm, the basketball team plays its first game ever, and more.
January 23, 1767—Jonathan Baldwin secures an affidavit from Job Stockton to defend himself against accusations that he has defrauded the College of New Jersey of about 30 pounds of mutton. “Tho’ I have been employed ten years in buying and providing for the college, this is the first instance, in which I have been charged with this surprising facility, in being imposed upon in my bargains,” Baldwin writes.
January 24, 1898—Students participate in a drawing to secure lodging in the newly-built Blair Hall. Rents range from $200-$300 per year including meals.
Blair Hall, ca. 1897. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP04, Image No. 69.
Is it true that the University of Texas school song, “The Eyes of Texas,” has a Princeton University connection? Where did the song come from, and why don’t Princeton students sing it anymore?
A. “The Eyes of Texas” is set to a tune best known today as “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Both use a melody first published as “Levee Song” in the College of New Jersey (Princeton)’s songbook, Carmina Princetonia, in 1894. With the new lyrics as “The Eyes of Texas,” the song was first published in The University of Texas Community Songbook in 1918.
Carmina Princetonia, 1894. Princeton Music Collection (AC056), Box 2.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a riot paralyzes the campus, a senior performs for the U.S. president, and more.
January 18, 1893—The faculty approve a resolution ending supervision of exams, provided that students sign a pledge stating that they have “neither given nor received aid” during the test.
First exam given at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) under the Honor Code, January 26, 1893. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 5, Folder 20.
In the first post in this two-part series about a file of 72 “Chinese New Year cards” I found in the Princeton University Library Records (AC 123), I wrote about the Christmas and New Year’s greetings sent by sent by missionaries and non-profit organizations to Dr. Nancy Lee Swann (1881–1966), one of the first female scholars of Chinese history who served as the curator of Princeton’s East Asian Library between 1931 and 1948. In this post, I will examine how scholars who sent cards to Swann appealed to shared literacy in Chinese historical anecdotes between senders and recipients to strengthen ties among colleagues.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Dod Hall opens, Albert Einstein attends the first Jewish services on campus, and more.
January 9, 1891—The Daily Princetonian reports that Dod Hall has opened.
Dod Hall, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP38, Image No. 1103.