Keeping the donor base informed: Princeton newsreels, 1960-1961

During the $53 Million Campaign (1959-1962) a 13 x 10 foot scale model of the Princeton campus  toured 19 major cities and displayed at meetings of the regional leaders of the fund drive. To keep Princeton alumni further informed about progress and developments on campus, the Alumni Council sponsored two “Princeton Newsreels” in 1960 and 1961. The two 30-minute films are interesting to watch, not only because they feature new facilities, achievements in sports and science, and notable events (from Hurricane Donna in 1960 to the donation of $35 million for the Woodrow Wilson School in 1961), but because they also document the University’s first attempts to reach out to its donor base through the medium of film.  Contrasting the two films, one cannot help but note that the second film is much smoother in its presentation than the first.

The first newsreel opens with an introduction by the 41 year-old president Robert F. Goheen ’40, and a freshmen lecture about the honor system by Walker Stevenson ’35, president of the National Alumni Association (1:30). The scale model of the campus, mentioned above, is featured at 6:41, when administrative vice-president Edgar M. Gemmell ’34 explains the expansions planned for the next three years. The footage following captures the Hibben and Magie faculty apartments under construction (6:41) as well as the five new dormitories of the New Quad (Class of 1937, Class of 1938, Class of 1939, Dodge-Osborn, and Gauss Halls), the first buildings to be finished since the start of the $53 Million Campaign (7:27).

aircar.jpg“Examples of Research” opens with a bird experiment on the roof of Guyot Hall (7:55), followed by the Princeton-Pennsylvania Proton Accelerator, a particle research facility on the Forrestal Campus since 1957 (8:59). In addition, the newsreel includes a demonstration of the thermoheliodon and the heliodon, developed by the Architectural Laboratory to determine the effects of sunlight, wind and radiation (10:19), and research at the Department of Aeronautical Engineering into problems that occur with low speed flight (11:29; footage includes “air car” shown above). In addition, the newsreel features faculty who won an award in 1960: the later Nobel Prize winner Eugene Wigner, Professor of Physics, who received the “Atoms for Peace Award” (15:02) and History Professor Robert Palmer, who won the Bancroft prize for his book Age of the Democratic Revolution (15:25).
The second half of the film features particular places and events, including alumni in the “Princeton Today” program who visited the new C-site at the “Matterhorn Project” (renamed the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 1961), a project for magnetic fusion research funded by the Atomic Energy Commission that had only been declassified in 1958 (15:47, with more about the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the second newsreel). This is followed by the appointment of three new trustees (17:15), the foreign language laboratory (18:57), achievements in sports (track, squash, and lacrosse at 20:06; football (with coach Dick Colman) at 25:04), and Reunions (20:54, with the Class of ’35). In addition, the film includes footage of Triangle chorines during a performance of Breakfast in Bedlam, which toured various military bases and hospitals in Europe during the summer (18:05). The newsreel also documents Hurricane Donna, the only hurricane on record to have struck every East Coast state between Florida and Maine, which hit the campus on September 12, 1960 (23:38).
The second newsreel that was produced during the $53 Million Campaign is more crisply presented, with a clear division into five chapters. The first chapter, “New Facilities,” shows new campus edifices: the Engineering Quadrangle (1:42), the John Foster Dulles Library of Diplomatic History (2:11), the Hibben and Magie apartments at Carnegie Lake (2:22), the new playing fields (2:37), and the dormitory quad with Wilcox Hall (2:48). It is followed by images of students moving into their dormitories (3:44), Class of 1965 freshmen, the new Dean of the College J. Merrill Knapp with Dean Ernest Gordon (4:36), and keycepts “in operation” (4:57).
“Sports” (6:26), the subject of the second chapter, features basketball (6:28), swimming (7:04), track (8:11), and football (8:24), with brief footage of important games and closeups of athletes. In the next chapter, “The Search for Knowledge” (11:32), the number of research project previously featured is reduced to two. The first concerns the new Model C Stellarator at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), the new name of “Project Matterhorn” discussed in the earlier newsreel. The large stellarator, for which facilities had been built in 1960, replaced previous models that had been used in the 1950s. As a second example of Princeton’s achievements in science the research of biology professor Arthur K. Parpart is discussed (14:21).
The fourth chapter, “Going Back” (15:43) includes footage of the Class of 1936’s 25th and the Class of 1911’s 50th reunion, with Joseph Cashman and Dr. William H. Hudnut from the Class of 1886 as members of the Old Guard. (Footage of President Robert Goheen ’40, Grant Sanger ’31, Harold Helm ’21, and Walker Stevenson ’35 is at 16:43). The “major Princeton event of 1961” is saved for last: “Princeton in International Affairs” (19:29) features the $35 million anonymous gift from a foundation (initially called the “X” Foundation, later known as the Robertson Foundation) to establish a professional school for public service at the Woodrow Wilson School. The newsreel ends with a statement by Gardner Patterson, who was the director of the Woodrow Wilson School and of the new program (20:35).
These 16mm films are part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0083 and 0079)

 

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