Rowing in fashion: the 150lb crew team, 1948-1950

During the Class of 1950′s 60th reunion weekend, Ed Lawrence ’50 donated a DVD to the University Archives that he had made for his former rowing crew teammates from old 8mm movie footage. He gave us permission to put it on Princeton’s YouTube channel, although he doubted that anybody other than his friends would be interested. Within two months, however, the film (initially posted with accompanying music) had been watched over 3000 times. It even almost ended up on CBS’ The Early Show. Why all this interest? Apparently the rowers looked very fashionable!

“Great chinos and sweaters in action at 2:28. Jackets and ties for a trip to Cornell at 4:28. White bucks and grey flannels at 5:51,” wrote a blogger about Ivy style dress. By the time it was picked up by another blog about “preppy” clothes we had reposted the film on YouTube without the music that Ed Lawrence had used to accompany the footage. Although it contained only fragments from an old Glenn Miller piano recording (which gave the film a bit of a slapstick feel), Sony had immediately claimed the copyright to the music, so the film had to return to what it originally had been: a silent movie. Later, when CBS contacted us about using the footage, we discovered why there was this sudden interest: the “preppy look” is back in fashion this fall!  We directed them to ask Mr. Lawrence for permission, but unfortunately, he did not return from vacation in time, so CBS used less historic footage.

For the University archives, the film is of interest for other reasons. We have very few audiovisual recordings that capture students’ extracurricular activities and social life on and around campus. This 20-minute film shows the 150lb crew not only at Carnegie Lake and the Boathouse, but also during trips and matches, including a trip to Cornell (5:03), Watkins Glenn State Park (6:09), Columbia University (8:34), the Eastern Intercollegiate Championship Race in Boston (9:54), and the University of Pennsylvania (10:46).
If you have films or videos of your Princeton years and are willing to part with them, we would be happy to incorporate them into the University Archives’ Audiovisual Collection. If you have converted the footage into a DVD and would want us to share it online, we would very much like to do so too. As long as it does not contain music under copyright!
This DVD of silent 8mm films, a gift from Ed Lawrence ’50, is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 2021)

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