“The New Order”: How Japan’s Attack on Pearl Harbor (Briefly) Led to Women Enrolling in Classes at Princeton University

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan”: so began Franklin Delano Roosevelt on December 8, in a speech asking the United States Congress for a declaration of war. Princeton University didn’t wait until Roosevelt’s speech; instead, the Princeton Senate declared war on Japan immediately following the attack. The Daily Princetonian reported on this story and others under the banner headline, “PRINCETON PRESENTS UNITED FRONT AS UNITED STATES FACES TOTAL WAR.”

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Army Specialized Training Program, ca. 1942-1945, Princeton University, Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box SP18, Item No. 4431.

It would be difficult to overstate the transformations that World War II brought to the United States at large and to Princeton University in particular in a nearly immediate and all-consuming way in the wake of the Japanese strikes on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A stunned administration under the leadership of University President Harold Willis Dodds (Graduate Class of 1914), who had only six weeks before asserted that the threat of war “will call for minor adjustments in the curriculum” (“Some Thoughts on Universities and National Defense,” October 31, 1941), suddenly and drastically revised its approach. Rather than minor adjustments, Princeton instead embraced major upheavals to nearly all of its traditions.

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British military class, Princeton University, ca. 1943, Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP18, Item No. 4433.

On December 15, Dodds presented the rough outlines of a changed Princeton curriculum to a mass meeting of students in Alexander Hall. A Princeton A.B., typically a four-year degree, would have an accelerated option with year-round classes, so that it could be completed in three. Additional “emergency courses” would be added to teach skills deemed useful for war. Princeton would yield itself to the needs of the U.S. Army and Navy, whatever those needs happened to be. All of these anticipated changes quickly went into effect. Here, we highlight how the war effort brought one other dramatic change to the campus: for the first time, women enrolled in classes.

New_Order

“The New Order,” Princeton Tiger, December 1941.

Photogrammetry, or making maps from aerial photographs, was among many emergency courses added for the Summer 1942 term. Tuition was not charged for the class, taught by engineering professor Philip R. Kissam, but admission was competitive, as applications poured in from across the nation.

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Flyer advertising Princeton University Photogrammetry Course, 1942, Historical Subject Files Collection (AC109), Box 421, Folder 3.

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Unidentified female student with engineering professor Philip R. Kissam, Princeton’s Photogrammetry class, 1942, Historical Photographs Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP212, Item No. 5577.

The class of 45 ultimately included 23 women, most from the East Coast region between New London and Philadelphia, and one from Royal Oak, Michigan. The Prince marveled, “One of the few remaining strongholds of the male, the classrooms of Princeton University, have been opened by the war to women students for the first time in the 196 years of its existence.” This was a bit of an exaggeration, however, as only a few classrooms were actually open to women, and the photogrammetry class was the only one taken by American women. Three female members of the British military also attended classes here during the war (Princeton Alumni Weekly, December 10, 1943), but afterward, coeducation at Princeton became nothing more than a memory until the 1960s. For more on the history of women at the University, see our previous blog post.

For further reading on World War II’s impact on Princeton University, see our previous blog posts about the bronze memorial stars that adorn some dormitory windows and the wartime love letters of alumnus Peter Page ’41.

Sources:

Board of Trustees Records (AC120)

Daily Princetonian

Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112)

Historical Subject Files Collection (AC109)

Office of the Dean of the College Records (AC149)

Princeton Alumni Weekly

The Princeton Tiger

Root, Robert K. The Princeton Campus in World War II. Princeton: Self-published, 1978.

 

New Accession: Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles from Hiroshima University

The University Archives was recently given the honor and responsibility of providing a home for seven roof tiles that sustained damage in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.  The roof tiles were collected in a river bed near ground zero of the atomic bomb explosion.

3 of the 7 tiles.

3 of the 7 tiles.

Along with the roof tiles, the donation includes photographs of the location where the tiles were recovered; booklets and pamphlets on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and documents related to the artifacts.

Hiroshima University was decimated in the atomic bomb attack— most of its students and faculty members perished and its buildings were demolished.  In the post-war period, Hiroshima University’s president Tatsuo Morito reached out to universities world-wide to help to renew the institution by sending books for its library and saplings to bring its grounds back to life.

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Princeton was among the schools that responded in 1951 by providing both a book for the library’s collection and a monetary donation for the purchase of a native tree for the campus; and now, in celebration of its 80th anniversary, Hiroshima University is reciprocating by donating these artifacts.

The roof tiles are distributed by Hiroshima University’s Association for Sending Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles in order to perpetuate awareness of the devastating effects of the atomic bombings in Japan, and to oppose the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.  In a letter that accompanies the donation, Toshimasa Asahara, President of Hiroshima University, explains:

The threat of nuclear weapons still exists in many areas of the world.  It is our earnest desire, however, that the pain and sadness experienced in Hiroshima not be re-created anywhere else in the world.

This wish is not only the wish of those of us living today but represents the silent voices of the 240,000 Hiroshima citizens who perished from the atomic bomb.  We believe it is also the will of others such as yourselves who will work together with us to build a peaceful future for the world.

See the Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles from Hiroshima University Finding Aid

 

 

 

 

 

Lobby Case Exhibition on Moe Berg

Update — Back by popular demand! The Moe Berg Lobby Case Exhibition can be once again viewed in the lobby of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library through August 31st, 2012.

Primarily known as a Major League catcher and coach, Morris “Moe” Berg was also a spy for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II, as well as a lawyer, linguist, and Princeton graduate. As a member of the class of 1923, Berg excelled scholastically and athletically by graduating with honors in Modern Languages (he studied Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Sanskrit), and playing first base and shortstop for the Princeton Tigers. While his batting average was low- Berg inspired a Major League scout to utter the phrase, “Good field, no hit”- he was known at Princeton for his strong arm and sound baseball instincts.

The exhibit highlights the varied roles of Berg in its presentation of Princeton memorabilia from the class of 1923, Berg baseball cards, and other material culled from Mudd’s two collections on Moe Berg: The Moe Berg Collection (1937-2007), and the newly acquired Dr. and Mrs. Arnold Breitbart Collection on Moe Berg (1934-1933). Also on display is a 1959 baseball signed by Berg and other Major League players, on loan from Arnold Breitbart. The Moe Berg exhibit can be located in the lobby of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, and was originally on display until August 31, 2011.


[i] Dawidoff, Nicholas. The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg. New York: Pantheon, 1994.

Bronze Memorial Stars

Dear Mr. Mudd:

What is the origin of the stars on Princeton University buildings? Is there any database listing the location of each star?

The bronze stars on window sills of Princeton University dormitories commemorate the University’s students and alumni who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and in the Vietnam War. An additional 13 bronze stars honoring those who died on September 11, 2001 are located in a memorial garden between East Pyne and Chancellor Green.

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Letter from the Society of the Claw to members seeking funding for the initial stars.

The original 140 stars, honoring students who lost their lives in World War I, were placed in 1920. These stars were donated by members of the Society of the Claw, an organization of members of the Class of 1894 who, as a sign-on condition, promised to either attend the next five reunions or every reunion throughout their lives. The Society also inducted honorary members who had done an “unusual service” or “brought exceptional honor” to Princeton, such as Woodrow Wilson ’1879. The Society of the Claw raised $431.65 for these stars, which were then placed on the window sill of each dorm room last occupied by a Princeton student who lost his life in the war.

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Princeton economics processing project completed

More than 1,100 feet of records providing insights into 20th-century economics history available

 

Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library has completed a two-year project to process all of its economics-related public policy collections to modern standards. These collections provide a rich resource about American economic thought and policies in the 20th century and the impact of American economic policy and the ideas of some of the leading economic thinkers on the emerging world economy, especially in developing nations.

Twenty-eight collections, totaling more than 1,100 linear feet, were processed through the support of the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund and a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Electronic finding aids for each collection are available on the library’s website for researchers.

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