Accessing Early University History through Publications

 

Written by  Rossy Mendez

It can often be a daunting task to find University-related publications from the nineteenth century. Fortunately, a number are available in Princeton’s collections and online. You can search for these publications directly through the main library catalog or by using the finding aids site to search across the university’s special collections. You can limit your results by entering keywords such as “The College of New Jersey” and using date ranges.

Student Publications
The Princeton University Publications Collection (which dates from 1748-2012) contains a variety of publications written by students, from the informal social newsletter the Nassau Rake to the well-established Nassau Literary Magazine. The Princeton Tiger humor magazine, which started in the 1880s, is a significant part of the collection as some of its writers went on to literary careers. Lastly, this collection also contains articles and publications related to the university such as The Influence of Princeton on Higher Education in the South.

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The Tattler, Vol. 1, No. 16, February 26, 1840, Princeton University Publications Collection (AC364), Box 52.

Athletics
The university has a rich athletic tradition and the documentation of this history can be found in several collections at Mudd. The Athletic Programs Collection contains a number of programs from Princeton’s early athletic history including the famous Princeton-Yale football games near the turn of the century. The C. Bernard Shea Collection on Princeton University Athletics contains clippings and statistics of sports events starting in 1869. In addition to this collection, the Bric-a-Brac yearbooks available in Mudd’s reading room also provide insight into sports events.

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Princeton vs. Cornell football souvenir program, October 31, 1896, Athletic Programs Collection (AC042), Box 1, Folder 4.

Visual and Performing Arts
The arts have always played a major role in Princeton’s history. The Music Performance at Princeton Collection (1875-2007) includes programs and advertisements from musical clubs within the university as well as visiting performers. In addition, the General Princeton Theater Collection and the Triangle Club Records have a number of programs and playbills from early performances at the university, while the University Broadsheets Collection has advertisements of important events on campus.

Student Speeches
Clippings and programs of the student orations related to Princeton’s commencement ceremonies can be found in the University Commencement Records and some in the College of New Jersey Pamphlets book, which has a selection of materials from the 1800s. These records provide information about the university’s traditions and practices and are a good way to learn more about the university involvement of a particular individual.

University Registries and Catalogs
A number of registries, yearbooks and catalog publications are available in our reference room. The Nassau Herald yearbook, which was first issued in 1864, contains biographical and academic information including names, field of study and place of residence. In addition to directory information it also provides information about the graduating class (photographs are also included after 1915). The Bric a Brac, an informal yearbook publication produced by the Junior class, documents the social aspects of the university including activities of various clubs and sports teams. Class reunion books include an up to date class directory, eulogies, quotes and other pieces of writing that allow insight into the post-graduation activities of alumni.

University catalogs dating from the early 1800s contain information about statistics, fees, coursework and other policies. Some of these catalogs can be accessed in our reading and reference rooms but some can also be found online (see below). There are a number of specialized catalogs like that of the Whig Society that record club activities and alumni.

Digital Resources
In addition to the abundance of information available at Mudd, there are several of online resources that are worth mentioning. If you are a student or faculty member at Princeton you have access to digital versions of some of these publications through the databases available through the main library catalog. The Nassau Monthly, for example can be accessed through ProQuest and EBSCO databases. In addition to these, ProQuest Historical NewspapersGale News Vault and the Newspaper Archive contain a number of other 19th century publications. If you cannot access Princeton’s digital resources, there are a number of other online resources. The entire archive of the student newspaper The Daily Princetonian, is freely available online and covers events, student issues and local news. The archive contains newspaper clippings that date to as early as 1875. Users can conduct keyword searches as well as limit results using various parameters.

Google Books contains a number of publications that have been digitized by Princeton and other universities. Some examples include catalogs such as the Princeton College Bulletin from 1895 and class reunion books such as the Decennial record of the class of 1874. You can also conduct general searches online to determine if the material you need has been digitized. Here are some examples of available items: an essay written for the student publication, The Tattler; an 1897 essay in Scribner’s magazine written about undergraduate life at Princeton; and a speech given by Charles Fenton Mercer at the University Chapel in 1826.

The Internet Archive has also made available several early images of Princeton’s history through the photo sharing site, Flickr. These images derive from publications and the link to the entire publication is available at the Open Library.

Whether it is using our collections at the Mudd Library or conducting research online, finding information from the 19th century need not be a difficult task. You can visit our website to find more helpful tips on using our collections or contact us via email.

This Week in Princeton History for October 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 College starts wearing orange, students protest the Vietnam War, and more.

For the week of October 13-19:

October 13, 1868—The faculty pass a resolution permitting students to adopt and wear orange ribbons imprinted with the word “PRINCETON.” The color honors England’s Prince William III of Orange, for whom Nassau Hall is named. In 1874, William Libbey, Jr. (Class of 1877) will obtain 1,000 yards of orange and black ribbon for freshmen to wear, and call them “Princeton’s colors.” They will be officially adopted as Princeton’s colors when the College of New Jersey takes the name “Princeton University” in 1896.

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19th century “Princeton” ribbon. Memorabilia Collection (AC053), Box E10.

October 14, 1887—The Daily Princetonian runs an editorial asking students to be considerate of others when playing pianos in their dorm rooms.

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Piano playing at a party in a Princeton dorm room, ca. 1896. Historical Photographs Collection (AC112), Box SP14, Item No. 3444.

October 15, 1969—Students join a nationwide Moratorium to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War with a variety of activities. 1200 people assemble on the lawn in front of Nassau Hall in the afternoon. To learn more about the Vietnam War and its impact on Princeton, be sure to stop by Mudd to take a look at our current exhibit.

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Anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside Nassau Hall, circa 1967. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 26.

October 16, 1924—800 students attack the Ku Klux Klan as their convoy of cars attempts to make it up Nassau Street, ripping off hoods until local police stop them.

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.

1957 Epidemics at Princeton

The most characteristic sound around the Princeton campus last week was not the familiar and rhythmic tolling of Nassau Hall’s bell, nor even the sleep-shattering bedlam of the steam-shovels on the new U-Store site. The sound around campus was everywhere: if you went to the heights of Blair Tower, behold, it was there, and even C Floor of the Libe, normally a haven for silence seekers, echoed and re-echoed the irritating noise. Everywhere you went, people were coughing. … The cough was almost always a good, lusty, chesty type which sort of set one apart as the bearer of a badge of courage and defiance—no infirmary was going to get his hands on him. No sir!

                                        –Princeton Alumni Weekly, November 1, 1957

 

This week’s FluFest is one of the ways the University works to keep students in good health for their studies, but keeping Princetonians healthy has sometimes proven to be a significant challenge. The Bric-a-Brac for 1958 reported on hundreds of students “plagued by a rash of…sickness” (118) “bedded down at home or in the campus infirmary,” including in the Student Center, which “was converted into an emergency annex.” It doesn’t sound like students had as much fun that year, with many social events canceled by Dean of the College Jeremiah S. Finch. One morose senior complained,  “I mean it, it’s tragic—this [epidemic] … is ruining my senior year! Now I’ve got nothing at all to do but work on my thesis.” (Princeton Alumni Weekly, October 25, 1957)

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Data taken from Report of the Committee on Health and Athletics for October 17, 1958 (found in the Board of Trustees Records).

There were typically about 100 infirmary admissions per month, but this jumped to over 600 in October 1957. The primary reason was a new kind of influenza sweeping across the globe. Nobody is certain where the new strain of “Asiatic Flu” (H2N2) originated, but the first reports of people falling ill from it came in Hong Kong in April 1957, with huge numbers of people succumbing to it wherever it was found. Concerned about the implications for the United States, government officials requested samples of the virus, and the Centers for Disease Control urged America’s six manufacturers of vaccines to get to work on a vaccine for it as soon as possible. By September, the vaccine was ready, but there was not enough supply to meet demand. Once school started, the virus began spreading dramatically. About 3-6 weeks after school began (the incubation period of the illness), absenteeism reached its highest levels. The Prince noted that at one point, 71% of Philadelphia’s students, including those at the University of Pennsylvania, were out with the flu. Indeed, this particular flu seemed to infect the young more than the old. A 1959 study later estimated that approximately 60% of America’s students had, at some point, been absent due to the flu in 1957.

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The Daily Princetonian is digitized and keyword searchable

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The Princeton University Archives, working in conjunction with the Princeton University Library Digital Initiatives, has nearly completed a monumental project that will change the way researchers investigate University history. The student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, has been digitized from its inception in 1876 through 2002. The site has been available in beta for almost two years, but all issues will be loaded as of June 30, 2012. At the suggestion of The Daily Princetonian alumni board who have been among the prime backers of this project, the site is named in honor of the newspaper’s long-serving production manager Larry Dupraz, and researchers are able to perform sophisticated keyword searches that can unlock the vast richness of the daily newspaper that documents so much of the University’s history. (For the years 2002- present, users may search online via the Daily Prince site.)

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“I wrote my final paper for my Freshman Writing Seminar about how the presence of veterans on Princeton’s campus following World War II affected Princeton’s academic environment and social atmosphere,” said Jennifer Klingman ’13. “My research heavily relied on The Daily Princetonian archives, and I had to spend a lot of time and energy searching for relevant articles in Firestone’s microform versions of the newspaper. It was difficult to comb through the articles, and as a result my research was limited in scope. This spring, I wrote my history department junior paper on academic and social changes taking place at Princeton during the late 1940s and 1950s. The online Daily Princetonian archives proved to be invaluable. I was able to access the archives anywhere and at any time, and use the archives’ search function to find a number of extremely useful articles. My independent work has definitely benefited from the existence of the online archives.”

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Freelance journalist W. Barksdale Maynard ’88 states “I am able to write about the social history of Princeton in an entirely new way and have restructured my research to take full advantage of this exciting new resource. For my Princeton Alumni Weekly article on the early history of automobiles at Princeton, the Dupraz Digital Archives allowed me to identify every reference to cars as early as 1901, to pinpoint who owned them and what kinds. I would never have attempted this article without The Dupraz Digital Archives.”

Maynard’s PAW colleague, Gregg Lange ’70, regularly uses the site for his column, “Rally Round the Cannon,” which examines and appraises University history. “You can piece together the story of Princeton football or Woodrow Wilson in a dozen ways. But the unique accessibility of a daily publication allows more subtle topics to arise and recede, and for cross-generational tales to emerge. Be it Ella Fitzgerald singing at a Princeton dance at age 19, then receiving an honorary degree 54 years later; or student revolts against the clubs’ Bicker selection system in 1917 and 1940 presaging its loss of monopoly in 1968, the combination of detail and long view is indispensable in understanding the ethos of the institution over time, and essentially inaccessible without the DuPraz technology and precision. And existentially, if I never see another microfiche in my life I will die a happy man.”

Maynard added, “My regular column in PAW, “From Princeton’s Vault,” has benefited enormously. Recently I was able to identify the earliest references to Princetonians as “tigers,” which had been guesswork previously. It turns out we were wrong by a decade.

This has been an international project, with the newspapers sent from Princeton to Brechin Imaging in Canada, where TIFF images are generated using high end German cameras. The files are then sent via a hard drive to Cambodia, where Digital Divide Data analyzes the structure of each page and uses an optical character recognition (OCR) program to derive machine-readable text, which allows for keyword searching. The hard drive is then shipped to Austin, Texas, where the US office of New Zealand company DL Consulting loads the data into a content-management system called Veridian, which supports searching and browsing, online reading, article extraction and printing, and other features.

Within the library, many hands have worked for this project’s success. At Mudd Library, project archivists Dan Brennan and then Adriane Hanson have overseen the day-to-day work of the project, managing the shipment of the newspapers to Brechin, as well as supervising students with the quality control phase. University Archivist Dan Linke raised the funds from various University and alumni sources and coordinated the project.

Within the greater Library system, Cliff Wulfman, the Library’s Digital Initiatives Coordinator, took the lead in writing the Request for Proposals and then selecting and coordinating the work with DDD, as well as providing technical assistance, support and vision. The Library System Office’s Antonio Barrera designed the front end web page with Phil Menos providing server support, and Deputy University Librarian and Systems Librarian Marvin Bielawski allocated the funds to acquire the Veridian software.

The project employs the METS/ALTO markup standard, the same used by the Library of Congress’s Newspaper Digitization Project, which means that as software changes and improves, we will be able to sustain this resource for many years to come.

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