This Week in Princeton History for May 22-28

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, protesters are arrested at Nassau Hall, a professor urges Princetonians to buy Liberty Loan bonds, and more.

May 22, 1949—Nassau Hall’s flag flies at half mast as a tribute to James V. Forrestal, a member of the Class of 1915 and the nation’s first Secretary of Defense, who died after jumping out a window on the sixteenth floor of Bethesda Naval Hospital on this date.

James Forrestal, ca. 1940s. Official U.S. Navy Photo. James V. Forrestal Papers (MC051), Box 188.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for April 10-16

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Chaim Potok kicks off Jewish Heritage Week, a sit in ends, and more.

April 10, 1994—McCosh 50 and two overflow auditoriums fill to hear Chaim Potok’s address to kick off Princeton’s celebration of Jewish Heritage Week.

Chaim Potok, ca. 1994. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 225.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for February 27-March 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Colonial Club’s financial pressures force its closure, women march on Washington, and more.

February 28, 1946—Princeton University announces that women will live in student housing on campus for the first time, opening Brown Hall to married veterans after providing only single-gender accommodations at the institution for 200 years.

Couples arriving at Brown Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP166, Image No. 6055.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for January 30-February 5

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.

January 30, 1805—The faculty of the College of New Jersey meet “to make inquiry concerning a mask & sword with which a person has been seen several times in the entries of the College.”

February 1, 1884—The Princetonian quotes 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.”

February 2, 1933—Cold and snow stop the Nassau Hall bell tower clock with the hands frozen at 10:44AM, but exams proceed on schedule because the bells are rung manually.

Nassau Hall, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8576.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for November 28-December 4

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, residents flee Nassau Hall, Theodore Roosevelt goes to a football game, and more.

November 29, 1776—John Witherspoon calls all the students of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) together in the Prayer Hall in Nassau Hall to dismiss them to safety. Taking what they can carry with them and leaving the rest to become spoils of war for the rapidly approaching British soldiers, the students say good-bye to one another and take flight from campus.

1760_New_American_Magazine_AC177_Box_1

Nassau Hall, 1760. Nassau Hall Iconography Collection (AC177), Box 1.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for May 23-29

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a firecracker explodes in Nassau Hall, an athlete pitches the first no-hitter ever recorded in baseball history, and more.

May 24, 1916—Princeton professor Alfred Noyes gives a public reading of his poetry, including his best-known “The Highwayman,” at a benefit event for the local Red Cross chapter.

Noyes,_Alfred_15_Feb_1915_AC107_Box_381

Alfred Noyes at Princeton University, February 15, 1915. Faculty and Professional Staff Files (AC107), Box 381.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for April 18-24

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the campus mourns Abraham Lincoln, Fidel Castro pays a visit, and more.

April 19, 1865—Someone etches “We Mourn Our Loss” into a window on the third floor of Nassau Hall in reference to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. (More on campus reaction to Lincoln’s death here.)

Scrapbook ribbon

Ribbon found in the college scrapbook of Edward Wilder Haines, Class of 1866. Scrapbook Collection (AC026), Box 16.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for March 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Nassau Hall is almost totally destroyed, undergraduates rescue stranded train passengers, and more.

March 9, 1770—The Providence Gazette reports that James Caldwell (Class of 1759) is on his way back to Princeton from Charleston, South Carolina with ₤700 he has raised for the College of New Jersey.

Caldwell_Board_of_Trustees_26_Sep_1770

The Board of Trustees acknowledged Caldwell’s efforts at their next meeting on September 26, 1770. By then he had reportedly raised over ₤1,000. Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey/Princeton University, Vol. 1, Board of Trustees Records (AC102).

Continue reading

Who Founded Princeton University?

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

Who founded Princeton University? 

A. The founding of Princeton University is nearly as complex as the courses that have been and continue to be taught within its hallowed lecture halls. The College of New Jersey (as Princeton University was known until 1896) was a child of the Great Awakening, an institution born in opposition to the religious tenets that had ruled the colonial era.

The principles on which Princeton University was founded may be traced to the Log College in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, founded by William Tennent in 1726. Tennent was a Presbyterian minister who, along with fellow evangelists Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, and George Whitefield of England, preached and taught an approach to religion and life that was the very essence of the Great Awakening period. The seven founders of the College of New Jersey were all Presbyterians. Ebenezer Pemberton, a minister and a graduate of Harvard, was the only one of the seven who did not graduate from Yale. The remaining six were Jonathan Dickinson, Aaron Burr Sr., and John Pierson, who were ministers; William Smith, a lawyer; Peter Van Brugh Livingston, a merchant; and William Peartree Smith.

Log_college_location_1914_AC111_Box_MP062_Image_2402

Original location of Pennsylvania’s Log College (photo taken in 1914). Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP62, Image No. 2402.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for August 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate secures her spot on the Supreme Court, multiple fights break out in Nassau Hall at the same time, and more.

August 4, 1979—The University retires its IBM 370-158 and IBM 360-91 in favor of a new IBM 3033, a much faster processor with 4 MB of memory and a price tag of $3.45 million (approximately $11.35 million in 2015 currency). It is predicted to save operating costs in the long term.

August 6, 2009—The U.S. Senate confirms the appointment of Princeton alum Sonia Sotomayor ’76, making her the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sonia_Sotomayor_'76

Sonia Sotomayor ’76’s Nassau Herald (senior yearbook) photo.

August 7, 1805—What the faculty refer to as a “considerable disturbance” occurs in Nassau Hall. A later investigation will find, among other things, that a sophomore “had insulted one of his fellow students, without any provocation, by giving him some drink which he afterward told him contained some nastiness,” and “this was the beginning of the noise.” In a seemingly unrelated incident, another fight breaks out simultaneously when a sophomore begins kicking a large jug down the hallways.

August 8, 1843—The start of the first term is changed from November to August and opens with about 50 students.

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.