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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