The student protests against the Vietnam war discussed in last week’s post are documented in numerous photographs and records in the University Archives, but none were captured on film. The Historical Audiovisual Collection, however, contains live recordings of several protest assemblies that were broadcast by Princeton’s student-run radio station, WPRB. Featured here is part of a broadcast from Jadwin Gym on Monday, May 4, 1970, when nearly 4,000 students, faculty, and staff voted for a “Strike against the War,” four days after President Nixon announced the US invasion of Cambodia. Taken from a four-and-a-half hour meeting, this four-minute audio clip is accompanied by a selection of photos from the Historical Photograph Collection (presented in random order) that were shot during the event. Many photos were scanned from contact prints and have not been published before.
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).
Harvard offered its first degree to an African American student in 1870, with Yale following in 1874. At Princeton, however, the first two black students graduated only in 1947 and 1948, after arriving on campus as members of the Navy’s wartime V-12 program. Historically the “Ivy League school for Southern gentlemen,” Princeton was a little “tardy,” according to Cornel West (then director of the Center for African American Studies) in the documentary featured here (32:01). In the words of Shearwood McClelland ’69: “If you had a segregationist attitude or would like to cherish that attitude a little longer before real life hit you after you graduated, this was the place to come to.” (31:35).
The first two black graduates, John Howard ’47 and James Ward ’48, are among the 35 alumni who were interviewed for the documentary Looking Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni, which was written and directed by Melvin McCray ’74 and produced by McCray and Calvin Norman ’77 on the occasion of Princeton’s 250th anniversary in 1996. Most of the alumni interviewed are from the 1960s and 1970s, when the administration started to make diversification of the student body a priority. In the documentary Robert F. Goheen, president between 1957 and 1972, explains how the racial riots of 1963 in the South made him realize that Princeton, which counted only seven African American undergraduates in 1962, should provide more educational opportunities to qualified blacks (20:52). Goheen’s successors William G. Bowen (President 1972-1988) and Harold T. Shapiro (President 1988-2001) are also interviewed, as well as Carl Fields (Assistant Director of Student Aid 1964-68 and Assistant Dean of the College 1968-1972), and the aforementioned Franklin Moore.
The 75 minute documentary, in which alumni describe contrasting experiences and feelings, is divided into several chapters: “The early history” (2:59), “Inclusion” (20:46), “Diverse backgrounds” (25:59), “First impressions” (28:44), “A matter of race” (31:57), “Academics” (43:51), “Nassau Hall Protest” (detailing the protest of April 14, 1978 over Princeton’s investments in South Africa, 56:40), “Graduation” (1:01:35), “One Word” (1:04:20), and “Parting thoughts” (1:05:20). In the first chapter Woodrow Wilson’s racism is discussed (6:16). The introduction of coeducation in 1969 is discussed at 48:43.
In addition to the interviews, the producers use historical footage and photographs (including materials from Mudd Manuscript Library and private sources) and renderings of “Old Nassau and “Going Back” by the a capella group “The Persuasions.” The documentary was produced under the auspices of the Steering Committee for Princeton’s 250th Anniversary, in conjunction with the Association of Black Princeton Alumni (ABPA) and the Alumni Council. It won a Bronze Medal from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (1998).
This VHS video is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1361).
Update: Thanks to Martin Shell ’74 for letting us know about a quote that had been erroneously attributed.
In the fall of 1941, preceding the attack on Pearl Harbor, undergraduate enrollment stood at 2,432. By November 1943, however, only 655 of the 3,742 students in residence were civilian. The footage on the two silent films shown here was shot a few years before and after the United States entered the Second World War. The first film captures Princeton students at an ROTC summer training camp off campus. In contrast, the later footage features military students marching on Princeton’s grounds. The Princeton campus, like many others in the country, had turned into a military training facility.
Princeton had maintained an ROTC Field Artillery Unit since 1919, when the First World War had ended. The primary objective of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was to provide military training at civilian colleges and universities to quality them as Reserve Officers in the US military. As part of a four-year elective course in Military Science (leading to the rank of Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the Officers’ Reserve Corps) students attended a six-week summer training camp at the end of the junior year. The film, which was shot before 1942, captures activities at a summer camp at Madison Barracks, New York, including a medical checkup (1:01), mess (4:05), drills (5:29 and 14:58), artillery practice (7:48), and informal scenes. In 1942 the summer training camp was suspended and in the following year ROTC was integrated in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), which arrived on Princeton’s campus in April 1943. The footage from 17:27 shows various military training units that resided on campus during the war. More information is provided with the next clip, which contains similar footage.
To compensate for dwindling resources during the war, Princeton hosted several military training schools on campus. In addition to the ASTP (known as the A-12), Princeton accommodated the Army Post Exchange School, the Naval Officer Training School, the Naval College Training Program (V-12) for Navy candidates and Marines, and the Navy Pre-Radar School. Dormitories provided barracks for the service groups, and fourteen of the largest halls were occupied by Army and Navy trainees. The trainees marched to meals and classes, as can be seen on this footage of various unidentified training units. The ROTC returned to campus with the reestablishment of the Army Unit and the introduction of a Naval Unit in 1946 and an Air Force Unit in 1951.
These silent 16mm films are part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0106 and part of item no. 0092).
Since it was posted on Princeton’s Campus Life channel, “An Undergraduate View of Princeton University,” produced by the Orange Key Society in 1962, has received unexpected attention. In the film, which is staged as an instructional meeting for Orange Key guides, Charles W. Greenleaf ’63, vice-president of the Keycept Program, discusses what distinguishes Princeton from other universities, with emphasis on teacher-student relationships and opportunities for individual growth. Created several years before rebellion and reforms swept the campus, the well-scripted film is an interesting artifact.
The film includes extensive footage of faculty and campus. Subjects discussed are: faculty and the preceptorial system (with professors John Turkevich (chemistry) and Eric Goldman (history) 3:30); independent research projects (with Professor D.C. Hazen (aeronautical engineering) 6:52); research at Firestone Library (9:13); freshman advisers (11:29 and 13:44); the honor system (15:33); financial aid (17:23); dormitories (18:02); extracurricular activities and sports (19:30).
Documents within the University Archives reveal very little about the context in which the film was produced. We therefore are calling on alumni who participated. Can you tell us anything about the making of the film? Who wrote the script? What was the audience, and how long was the film in use? We look forward to your comments!
This 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0091).