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’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.

From the Archives: Princeton and the Supreme Court

Journalists and pundits are noting that Elena Kagan’s

confirmation to the Supreme Court last week marks the first time three women have served concurrently on

the high court. However, Kagan’s confirmation marks another historic

occasion — the first time in 168 years that three Princetonians have shared

the bench.

While 2010’s trio consists of Samuel Alito ‘ 72, Sonia

Sotomayor ’76, and Elena Kagan ’81, the 1842 trio consisted of Smith Thompson

‘1788, Peter V. Daniel ‘1805, and James Moore Wayne ‘1808.


Justices Thompson

‘1788 (Undergraduate Alumni Records), Daniel ‘1805 (Dickinson University’s House Divided Project), and Wayne ‘1808 (Library of Congress).

Continue reading