Interview with Dean Ernest Gordon and tour of University Chapel, 1977

Today’s post is written by Rev. Frederick Borsch ’57, former Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel 1981-1988.

“A sermon in stone” is a familiar description of the Princeton University Chapel, and it is used to introduce this 1977 film tour of the Chapel’s architecture and windows through an interview with its then Dean Ernest Gordon. Although an effort was made to give the program a semblance of informality, it comes across now as rather rehearsed. First telecast (Nov. 27, 1977) as a 10 minute segment in a Sunday morning NBC-TV series, “The First Estate: Religion in Review,” the film is also, however, not without attractive and educational features. Since the Chapel remains essentially the same, the information is not dated, and there is much to appreciate in watching it. For considerable further information about the Chapel, one can go to the University’s Office of Religious Life’s site about the History of the Chapel to find links to a self-guided tour and an extensive audio-tour. There is also Richard Stilwell’s splendid The Chapel of Princeton University (Princeton University Press, 1971). Next one could go to the Chapel.
“Bring binoculars,” was the advice I was given, as that is the only way to take in much of the detail. The film seems to have been made in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the 1928 dedication of the Chapel. I first entered the building as a freshman in 1953 when it was 25 years old. We undergrads, of course, had other names for the building–not least because attendance at religious services was then required of freshmen and sophomores on every other weekend. One of my roommates, though not himself Jewish, usually went to their Friday evening services in order to get his chit signed and have the rest of the week-end free. Other of my friends might go to a denominational service, but often enough on Sunday mornings we went to the ecumenical (though rather Presbyterian) “God Box” or “Firestone South,” so labeled because the Chapel was neighbor to our more frequent destination–the Firestone Library just across the plaza.

Or, since lore had it that alumnus and plutocrat Harvey Firestone had donated a goodly part of the over two million dollars for building the Chapel, it was also “Firestone’s Folly.” We heard that this sobriquet had been given by earlier critics who would have preferred that the money be used for laboratories, libraries and faculty salaries. At the time, however, President Hibben had acclaimed the Chapel as Princeton’s two million dollar witness against materialism!

Yet it was hard not to stand–literally stand–in awe of the building and all it represented. I stood there. I worshipped in the Ralph Adams Cram Anglo-collegiate Gothic tribute to the unity of faith and knowledge. The visage of the philosopher-skeptic David Hume could even be glimpsed in one of the windows. I listened to the Aeolian-Skinner organ while admiring what has been called the “finest assemblage of stained glass in all the western hemisphere.” (Recently the windows were completely refurbished and restored to the tune of something like ten million dollars. The building and its fabric have over the years been very well endowed!) As an English major, I liked to sense the whole building as a paean to Christian humanism and to pick out Chaucer, Shakespeare, George Herbert, Donne, Milton, Blake, Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot. In the only apparent attempt at humor in the 1977 film (other than a reference of Donne’s “unholy” sonnets), Dean Gordon notes the tiger on which William Blake seems to sit. “Tiger, tiger, burning bring / In the forests of the night,” runs through one’s mind, followed by “tiger, tiger, tiger; sis, sis, sis; boom, boom, boom; ah.”

Ernest Gordon became the Chapel’s Dean in 1955. He was “earnest” all right (a little joke of ours), but what a change he brought to the worship with his Scot’s burr, his energetic faith and dramatic story of conversion to Christianity during his four years in a miserable Japanese concentration camp. A handsome man with a certain winsomeness about him (still seen in the film), he invited Billy Graham to campus for what was in affect a mission to undergraduates.

Later Gordon would twice invite (over a number of protests) Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Chapel’s pulpit and preside over the Chapel during the civil rights movement, then a memorial service for Dr. King, turmoil and protests over the Vietnam War–some of these gatherings taking place in the Chapel. As part of all that, a measure of interest in religion grew, but not necessarily in formal church-going. By 1964 all Chapel requirements had finally been dropped as the University became still more secular in outlook and at the same time more diverse in terms of religions. I had to wonder if Dean Gordon did not wince to himself when, at the end of the film, he commented on how important the Chapel was for undergraduates although far fewer were coming to his Sunday morning services than in earlier years.

Truth in blogging: in 1981 I succeeded Ernest Gordon as Dean, and one can read something more about his ministry, the Chapel and the times in my forthcoming Keeping Faith at Princeton: A Brief History of Religious Pluralism at Princeton and Other Universities (Princeton University Press, 2011).

–Frederick Borsch ‘57

This 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1974)

Princeton traditions, old and new: the Class of 1986’s “video yearbook”

The Class of 1986 was a ‘historic’ class, so the freshmen were told: they were the first to begin their Princeton years in the new social system of the residential colleges. According to their Class History in the Nassau Herald, however, the students carried on as the generations before them. “We worked hard and we partied hard. This blend of continuity and change, of tradition and transition, would characterize our four year stay at Old Nassau.” The ‘video yearbook’ featured here, in itself a reminder of the “class films” of the 1920s and 1930s, is an expression of that experience. A fast-paced arrangement of videotaped snippets capturing campus events and student life, the 26 minute film is a celebration of both old and new.

The video yearbook, produced by “Ground Floor Video,” a group of students under the direction of Glenn Picher ’86, was filmed during the class’ junior and senior year. Meant as a complement to the print yearbook, according to the Prince, the film contains selections from some thirty to forty hours of videotape, accompanied by original music composed by Peter Curtiss ’86 (other music credits can be found at 25:55). The film is divided into seven chapters: Student Life (1:03), Academics (5:33), Sports (7:08), Holidays (10:39), Campus issues (15:09), Spring (17:15), and Graduation weekend (20:50).

The sports and spring scenes, along with the Graduation weekend events were already traditional elements in the class films of the 1920s. Incoming freshmen were introduced to other Princeton traditions in the Special Class of 1986 issue of the Daily Princetonian. Some of those traditions are captured in the “video yearbook” featured here. They include the bonfire on Cannon Green after a major sports victory–in this case the football team’s “Big Three Title,” the first since 1967 (9:44, compare with the bonfire of the Class of 1923); House Parties (19:29; compare with the class film of the Class of 1939); and “Arch Sing” (12:48), reminiscent of the tradition of “Senior Singing” as seen in the Class of 1928 footage. The footage in the  “Graduation Weekend” (20:50), capturing the P-rade, the breaking of the pipes on Cannon Green, and the commencement ceremonies is very similar to the films from six decades previous depicting the graduation of the Classes of 1921 and 1928.

Additionally, more recent traditions featured here include the “Nude Olympics (12:00), and the party activities of “blow pong” (3:35 and 4:47), and what is assumed to be the “Trees and Trolls,” the annual rumble between the over 6 ft tall and the shorter members of the then still all-male eating club, the Tiger Inn (4:23). Both activities were accompanied by copious amounts of beer. During 1986’s freshmen year the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21, making senior year the first year that most students could legally drink alcohol.

Of particular interest for the topic of “traditions” is the address of Sally Frank ’80 at the Woodrow Wilson School on November 20, 1985 (16:28). Earlier that year, Sally Frank had won her lawsuit against the all-male eating clubs of Cottage, Ivy, and Tiger Inn, which she had filed in 1979 after they refused her a chance to bicker due to her gender. Additional issues addressed in the section ‘Campus protests’ include the blockade of the entrance to Nassau Hall on May 23, 1985 to protest Princeton’s  investments policies with respect to South Africa (15:09) and the Women’s Center sit-in of May 1, 1986 (16:52).

Within the video a few other faces have been identified as the following.

  • English professor John Fleming is shown lecturing (5:39)
  • The late art historian John R. Martin (5:56)
  • President Bill Bowen (6:32, appears again 19:05).
  • The late art professor Jerry Buchanan critiques a student’s work (5:42).
  • Harold Medina ’09 is seen riding in a golf cart (21:20)
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer makes a brief appearance (22:41)

This VHS tape is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1324).

“The Year of the Tiger:” the 1964-1965 Basketball Season at Princeton

The 1964-1965 basketball season was an unprecedented season of success for the Princeton men’s team as it played some of the finest basketball in the country, led by All-American and captain Bill Bradley ’65. During that magical season, the Tigers won the Ivy League title and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. By season’s end they had bested teams from Navy, Syracuse, Rutgers, Cornell, and Providence. Bradley, arguably one of the best athletes ever to play at Princeton, led a talented group of juniors and up-and-coming sophomores as they demonstrated that an Ivy League team, devoid of scholarship players, could hold their own, and indeed, compete with basketball powerhouses such as Michigan and North Carolina State.

Princeton’s season opened on December 2nd with an 83-74 victory over Lafayette College. Crowds filled Dillon Gymnasium to watch the team, and as the end of December approached, Princeton was 6-2. Then at New York City’s Madison Square Garden (2:34), where the annual Holiday Festival tournament was played, Princeton opened with a victory over Syracuse. But the match-up everyone was anxious to watch pitted Princeton against the University of Michigan — then the number one ranked team in the country. Michigan’s star player was Cazzie Russell, a versatile 6’ 6” all court player.

The first half was a fairly evenly matched contest, with Princeton securing a 39-37 half time edge. During the second half, Princeton opened up a significant lead. With four and a half minutes to go, the Tigers lead by 12 (4:52). But, the game quickly turned when Bradley was called for his fifth and final personal foul — a costly error that sent him to the bench for the remainder of the game. Without their floor generaBradley2x.jpgl, Princeton struggled to find its rhythm, but managed to keep things close. With less than a minute to play, they still led by two points. In the waning seconds (6:08), Michigan put the ball in Russell’s hands, and he did not disappoint, nailing the winning shot which gave Michigan an 80-78 victory. It was not the last time that these two teams would meet during the season. Nor would it be the last time that Bradley and Russell would compete together. Both played on New York Knicks teams in the late 1960s. (The Daily Princetonian, January 5, 1965)

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Moving Corwin Hall 100 feet, May 20, 1963

Robertson Hall, the building that currently houses the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (WWSPIA) has been featured in two newsreels: the “Princeton newsreel” of 1961, announcing the, at the time anonymous, $35 million gift of Charles S. Robertson ’26 and his wife, Marie; and the 1966 newsreel about President Lyndon Johnson’s visit to dedicate the building. This post features the building that originally housed the Woodrow Wilson School: Corwin Hall, erected in 1951 and originally known as “Wilson Hall,” which had to be moved 100 feet to make way for the new WWSPIA facility.

The spectacular move of the building to its present site between Wallace and Robertson Hall was recorded via time lapse filming on an 8mm camera by Lawrence l. Rauch *49, who donated the footage to the Princeton University Archives. The engineering feat was accomplished by the New York firm of Spencer, White, and Prentiss, using hydraulic jacks to push the building along twelve steel tracks. The actual moving took only twelve hours but two months were needed to prepare for it and another three months to secure the building to its new foundation.

When Robertson Hall was completed in 1965, Wilson Hall was re-assigned to one of WWSPIA’s chief allies, the Department of Politics, and to the Center of International Studies. Its name was changed to Corwin Hall, in honor of Edward S. Corwin, the first chairman of the Department of Politics and the long-time holder of the McCormick Professorship of Jurisprudence, the professorship originally held by Woodrow Wilson.

This 8mm film, a gift from Lawrence L. Rauch *49, is part of the Princeton University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1980). Adapted from the post by John DeLooper in Mudd Manuscript Library’s Blog with excerpts from Alexander Leitch A Princeton Companion (Princeton University Press, 1978).  

Commencement and reunions in 1928, and Princeton’s penultimate flour picture

In a recent blog we shared our oldest film depicting President Hibben’s inauguration in 1912 and some unexpected footage of Woodrow Wilson. In today’s post we show you more surprise footage from that reel: commencement activities and P-rade scenes, most of which we had already found in a puzzling “film mosaic” on another reel. We now have identified the mystery footage as scenes from the class films of the Class of 1928. The footage from both reels is featured here, along with two reunion films that helped date the materials. Together the four films capture the commencement and reunion weekend of 1928, which included a particularly spectacular P-rade, when many classes were, according to the Prince, “decked in gaudy and grotesque costumes.”

As a bonus there is footage of the Class of 1928’s freshmen ‘flour picture’ from 1924–the first in many years in which only water and flour were used, which apparently made this hazing tradition too tame to survive–it was abolished in 1926.

According to the list of class films in the records of the Graduate Council, the Class of 1928 had three  film reels capturing their commencement, with some of the footage similar to the graduation film of the Class of 1921. The footage featured here contains only a few scenes, without the titles that originally accompanied them. The film, which is not in chronological order, opens at the end of the class exercises on Monday, June 18 with the breaking of the pipes on Cannon Green, which symbolized the breaking of ties with undergraduate life. The footage is followed at 0:22 by the commencement exercises on Tuesday, June 19, ending with the singing of “Old Nassau” (0:44).

1928gradsx.jpgThe film continues on Saturday, June 16 in front of Nassau Hall (0:54), where all alumni were waiting for the Class of 1928 to lead the P-rade. After the arrival of the 466 graduating seniors, carrying white umbrellas (1:04, left), the other classes would join in, beginning with the youngest. The footage at 1:16 shows various classes coming through the Arch at Prospect Avenue, from where the procession proceeded to University field.

FoxHunt2x.jpgFrom 1:30 the procession is seen marching around the baseball field, prior to the traditional game against Yale. The cameraman zoomed in on classes with particularly interesting costumes. These include what is thought to be the Class of 1918 with feather hats (1:39), and an unknown class (possibly the Class of 1912) acting out a fox hunt (1:59, right). The film ends with footage of presumably the Class of 1928’s last Senior Singing on the steps of Nassau Hall (2:19), with the seniors traditionally dressed in white.

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Princeton’s Polo Team and ROTC Field Artillery Brigade in Action! (circa 1928)

The film featured here, shot around 1928, contains three distinct sections. The first contains images of the Princeton Polo Team playing on W. B. Devereux Jr. ’04 Field (0:00-5:52). The second section opens with a woman and a small boy after the polo tournament (5:53-5:58), followed by scenes of Prospect Avenue and the various eating clubs located on this street (5:59-6:45). The third section documents the annual inspection of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Field Artillery Unit, performed by representatives of the United States War Department. The origins of the film, which does not appear on the list of films that were kept by the Graduate Council in 1931, are unclear.

Polo at Princeton

Although polo has been around for millennia, the first documented games on Princeton’s campus occurred in 1902, when Walter Bourchier Devereux Jr. ’04 and a few classmates organized a group of polo matches. The popularity of the sport grew quickly among the students, and by the spring of 1903, Princeton was the first college to officially adopt polo as a collegiate sport. Harvard and Yale soon followed suit. As rapidly as the sport emerged on campus, it soon diminished, due to a number of factors including the cost to secure and maintain horses and lack of interest from later classes.

poloridersx.jpgIt was not until 1919, with the creation of the ROTC Field Artillery Battalion, that polo would once again be played at Princeton under the leadership of Major J. E. McMahon, 1st Commandant of the Princeton Unit. He introduced the sport to the unit in order for its members to develop fundamental combat skills. Most of the polo players were members of the ROTC unit and were provided auxiliary horses and equipment by the Unites States War Department; those players, however, who were not members of the unit had to provide their own horses.

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Triangle’s “All in Favor”, 1948-1949

It is always difficult to watch silent films of early Triangle shows, which are as famous for their music and witty lyrics as for the all male kicklines (read our previous blog for an introduction). Even without sound, however, the films of All In Favor are still a visual treat. Footage of the performance, a dazzling display of virtuosity and color, is alternated with dressing rooms scenes, displaying the fun of stockings, wigs, and long flowing skirts.

All in Favor, is, in Triangle’s own words, a “fast-moving musical comedy satire on American politics, its methods and madness,” set in a little town in Indiana in the 1920s, where a mayor is running for reelection with the help of  his “non-too-honest” campaign manager. His opponent is the reform candidate widow Dawes, whose daughter dates a Princeton student  (a summary of the story, taken from the press release, can be found in the Daily Princetonian). The script was written by Triangle president Francis S. Hartley ’50 (pictured at 0:16), vice-president Thomas H. Middleton ’48, secretary Kennedy Williams ’48 and Edward H. Tuck ’49.

HenryFonda_JamesNeely.jpgThe first of the two films, which includes excerpts from Act I, opens with preparations prior to the show, including dressing room scenes and orchestra practice (0:18-2:10). Although some of the footage on the stage includes singing and acting, the two films merely capture the 16-man Triangle chorus, performing specialty dances and production numbers created by choreographer Morgan Lewis. In Act I this includes the Can-Can shown at 4:42. The photo at the right, which was found in the Triangle Club Records, shows film star Henry Fonda, adjusting the garter of chorus leader James C. Neely ’48. Although Fonda attended one of Triangle’s rehearsals, he is not included in the films featured here.

The film ends with the minstrel show at the mayor’s campaign rally (7:38), a particular novelty that received a lot of attention.

The second film, which captures Act II of the performance, opens with a member of the chorus (a “chorine”) pulling on stockings, which is followed by a prisoner escape (0:27) and chorines dancing the Charleston (1:24). A traditional ballet, preceded by another dress-up scene, is shown at 3:40. When the curtain falls, the casts sings the Princeton alma mater “Old Nassau” (7:17).

Existing photographs of the performance did not allow us to identify individual actors and chorus members. If anyone is able to add names to the faces on these films, please comment on this blog!

These 16mm films are part of the Triangle Club Records at the Princeton University Archives (box 177).  Mudd Library is thankful for the support that the Triangle Alumni Board provided for digitizing these films and unlocking their contents.

Princeton’s last class film: Freddie Fox’ Class of 1939

Although we have a fairly good idea about the class films of the 1920s, there is virtually no information about the class films of the 1930s. The exception is the film of the Class of 1939. That is probably not an accident: it was the class of previously featured Frederic Fox ’39, who was the first and only keeper of Princetoniana from 1976 until his untimely death in 1981. The 16mm film in the archives turned out not to be the two hour long film that was announced in the Daily Princetonian on May 1938, and it sadly also lacks the sound that was supposed to have been a major innovation. How much the ultimate film ‘shattered precedents’ by depicting ‘intimacies during campus years’ as the Prince announced in March 1938, we may never know. But one thing is clear: the Class of 1939 had a lot of fun that included women and beer.

 

The footage is in chronological order, starting with freshmen football practice during days, nights, and in the snow. After this, athletics (always emphasized in previous class films) get very little attention: only football and rowing are featured without any identifications, other than a Yale-Princeton game (6:49). The freshmen scenes continue with footage about the Veterans of Future Wars (VFW) (1:50), founded in March 1936 by members of the Class of 1936 and 1937, which became one of the most famous college pranks in the country. The footage is part of a newsreel of March of the Times, which can be viewed online (with sound!). The three “likely pieces of cannon fodder” (shown at 2:19 in the chairs), who came up with the idea, are  Lewis J. Gorin ’36, “National Commander” (middle), Urban Rushton ’36 (left), and probably Richard Waters ’36 (right). According to 1939’s class history in the Nassau Herald, it was the “main event” of the second term that year, and the movement received the freshmen’s “whole-hearted backing.” The records of the Veterans of Future Wars are kept in the University Archives.

FoxHayesx.jpgThe Triangle Club gets quite some attention in the class film, which is understandable: Fred Fox ’39, Mark Hayes ’39 and Sanders (“Sandy”) Maxwell ’39 were involved in three productions, the first two as actors (Hayes played Mandy Magnum in previously featured Take it Away) while Maxwell contributed music. The footage shows scenes from Fol-de-Rol, Triangle’s production for 1937-1938, including chorines dancing (7:20) and Mark Hayes singing with Fred Fox, who had a leading roll as King Charles II (8:33). It is not possible to determine if the party scene with whiskey and bear that follows is related (8:43). Triangle’s 50th anniversary production Once Over Lightly, in which Hayes and Fox both played leading roles (Sandy Maxwell, Triangle’s director, contributed most of the music), is featured at 16:18. It is not known who the man and woman are who are presented with a gift by Fred Fox at 16:32.
The footage following the first Triangle show is thought to capture the Junior Prom on March 18; 1938, with music by the swing band of trumpeter Larry Clinton (11:14). The prom was attended by 606 girls (all listed by name in the Daily Prince). promcrasherx.jpgFunnily enough, the one junior student who is shown alone among the dancing couples is Fred Fox (at 10:49 with bow tie and glasses), who was voted ‘most likely bachelor’ in his senior year. In an article in the Prince 35 years later, Fox explains that he probably got the vote because he never had a date until his senior year, when he shared one with his roommate. More scenes with girls are shown at 5:37 (presumably watching a rowing regatta), as well as at 11:52 and  at the senior house parties (21:51).
Remaining footage shown must have been shot at the ROTC training camp at Madison Barracks, NY, in the summer of 1938, at the end of the Junior year (13:10). SandyMaxwellx.jpgSimilar footage is featured in our previous blog, which may even have been shot on the same occasion. The footage at 11:59 shows J.C. Hurdman ’39 at the microphone and Sandy Maxwell at the piano during a WTNJ radio broadcast of “Princeton On The Air,” featured in the Prince. The film ends with brief footage of the Commencement.

It is not known why the class film ended up in the University Archives without sound. The original idea to have a two-hour film with sound seems to have been too ambitious: on June 7, 1939 the Prince announced that the senior class film was delayed by audio editing. The final result, to be premiered at the Class’ first reunion, would only be 1000 feet long, due to the extensive costs of the sound track. The Prince‘s description of the final film, which would also include some added campus scenes in color, is very different than the footage that is featured here. What happened? Did the sound track get lost? Or could this be the footage that was excluded from in the final film? If anybody could explain the mystery, we would love to hear it!

This 16mm silent film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0199)

“The Class of 1923–its deeds and its antics,” 1922-1923

Among the earliest silent films that were shot on the Princeton campus are those produced and financed by the classes of 1921 to 1939 (see our previous blog). The first true ‘class film’ was titled “The Class of 1923–its deeds and its antics.” A compilation of footage from this film and of the film “Champions 1922,” with football highlights of the fall of 1922, survive in the archives. Be ready to watch the “football team that wouldn’t be beaten,” the building of a championship bonfire, a dirty flour fight, Triangle chorines and more Princeton lore.

The two 16mm film reels on which this footage was found contain almost all scenes (though in different order) of the original nitrate base films that were kept by the Graduate Council. According to the Graduate Council’s lists of captions or “titles” of the films, the original “Champions 1922,” which was rented out to alumni groups, took up one reel, and the film with the class’ “deeds and antics” took up six. Portions of six of the seven original reels were used, with only the class’ commencement scenes omitted.

Princeton’s three football victories that clinched the championship in the fall of 1922 are found at separate places: the Yale game (November 18) at 0:00, the Harvard game (November 11) at 3:18, and the Chicago match (October 28, 1922) at 11.42. 1923tigerx.jpgThe film features a live tiger cub (2:33) that, according to the note found with the film reel, was donated by the father of one of the players “since Princeton won (the) Harvard game.” An article in the Prince identifies the donor as J.F. Howard from Haverhill, MA, father of Albert “Red” F. Howard ’25, who had caught the cub while hunting in the jungles of India. The note indicates that the tiger was given to Philadelphia Zoo after graduation.

To our surprise, we had already seen the bonfire footage at 4:22. It was featured in Gerardo Puglia’s 250th anniversary documentary and was thought to be the championship bonfire of 1926 when it was put online by the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Now we know that it was actually the championship bonfire of November 21, 1922. Given the caption on 1923’s Class film, it is easy to understand the mistake: it was traditionally the task of the freshmen (in this case the Class of 1926) to find wood for the celebratory bonfires. That this involved quite a bit more than gathering brushwood is demonstrated in the film. A photo montage of the events can be found in the Daily Princetonian of November 25, 1922.

Another Princeton tradition depicted on the film is the annual “flour picture,” the first photograph of the freshmen class on the steps of Whig or Clio Hall, which was taken after the sophomores dumped flour on the freshmen. The seniors of 1923 were merely bystanders when the Class of 1926’s flour picture was filmed on October 30, 1922 (5:40). The footage must have ended up here because the Class of 1923 had taken the initiative for the combined Motion Picture Committee that would coordinate the class films for all four classes, including the filming of the freshmen’s flour picture. (See our previous blog.)

1923flourx.jpgThe title that accompanied the original footage apparently was removed:  “Flour (?) picture: 1926 undergoes its baptismal rites.” The question mark indicates that more than flour was dumped during this hazing ritual, and a year later, the Class of 1926, now sophomores, added their own special ingredient to the mix: acid! Not surprisingly, the flour picture was abolished immediately. The Prince wrote solemnly: “This action was necessitated by the degeneration of the Flour Picture in recent years until this fall it was a distinctly non-Princeton affair.”  A later article detailed what may have been mixed with the flour on this footage: eggs, tar, paint, molasses “and whatnot.” The flour picture was reinstated in 1924 with water and flour only, but the interest of the sophomores waned, and the practice stopped after 1925.

The photographer of the flour picture is probably Orren Jack Turner, who appears at 6:28, followed a bit later by B.F. Bunn ’07 (6:36), manager of the University store and financial adviser to many campus organizations, who advanced the money for the camera purchased by the Motion Picture Committee. The footage of Bunn is followed by scenes from the Triangle show “The Man from Earth” (6:46), the annual show for 1922-1923, with Wally Smith ’24 in the title row, singing “That’s why I left the world behind” (7:36). This is the earliest Triangle footage in the University archives, preceding even the footage of “The Golden Dog” of 1929 that was featured in a previous blog.

1923sundialx.jpgThe remainder of the footage includes athletic teams and  training sessions, as well as class officers and members of the boards. Sports featured include soccer (1:21, 5:28), cross country (2:15), baseball (7:49. 14:31), rowing (8:25. 17:33) and golf (16:12), while footage of construction of the Hobart Baker ice hockey rink can be found at 6:42. The footage includes members of Theatre Intime (14:00) and the board of the Daily Princetonian. The latter footage captures another Princeton’s tradition: the privilege, exclusive to seniors, to sit on the steps of the Mather Sundial, in the center of McCosh Courtyard (16:44).

This footage on this 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0195 and 0196). 

Princeton’s oldest footage: John Grier Hibben’s inauguration and Woodrow Wilson returns to vote

This post contains the oldest newsreels present in the Princeton University Archives. As discussed in our previous blog, Princeton University started making films in 1919, using the footage for its first promotional film in 1921. For earlier years, however, it was dependent on newsreel companies like Pathé, which filmed newsworthy stories and items of topical interest for movie theaters. The first film documents the inauguration of John Grier Hibben, fourteenth president of  Princeton University (1912-1932). The newsreels that follow show US President Woodrow Wilson, Hibben’s predecessor, when he returned to Princeton to vote in 1913 or 1915 and in 1916.

We do not know what company produced the silent newsreel about Hibben’s inauguration in 1912 as only the opening titles survive, but it is obvious what made the issue particularly newsworthy: William Howard Taft, President of the United States 1909-1913, was a guest at the ceremony.  He received an honorary degree, along with US Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglass White. The newsreel opens with Taft posing with Hibben and his wife and daughter at Prospect House (0:14). It continues with Hibben and his distinguished guests, headed by Grand Marshal William Libbey ’77 and Taft’s personal aid, walking past faculty, trustees, students, and guests on Cannon Green, from where the procession marched to Nassau Hall (0:54). The Daily Princetonian describes the procession and following exercises in detail. The newsreel footage, however, shows very little of the ceremonies on the podium in front of Nassau Hall. Hibben’s inauguration and speech are shown at 1:36, followed by the conferment of honorary degrees to Chief Justice Williams (1:51) and President Taft (2:04).

 

Woodrow Wilson Newsreel flipped.jpgThe footage of Woodrow Wilson that follows Hibben’s inauguration (2:26) seems to have been taken from two different newsreels. Although the title and credits of both newsreels were almost completely removed, a remaining single frame of the first title survived–oddly enough in mirror image and shown corrected at the right. This footage may have been from Wilson’s visit on September 28, 1915, when he traveled to Princeton to vote in the Democratic primaries at the polling station on Chambers Street. (See the New York Times at NYTImes 28_Sep_1915.pdf.) Alternatively, it may depict him in the Democratic primaries of September 23, 1913, when he voted for James Fielder for Governor of New Jersey. (See NYTimes_23_Sep_1913.pdf.)

The very brief footage thaWilsonvote.jpgt follows at 3:15, showing Wilson greeting women, was taken when he voted in the NJ primary on  April 25, 1916. (For a photo of Wilson arriving by train, see the Historical Society of Princeton’s photo archives). During this visit, which is described in the Prince, Wilson participated in the planting of trees along the Lincoln Highway under the auspices of the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs.
It is not known on what occasion the historic footage was copied onto the 16mm film reel on which it was found, though it must have happened after June 1940, when the footage of Hibben’s inauguration was displayed at the 25th reunion of the Class of 1915, whose members had witnessed the inauguration as freshmen.  (On May 17, 1940 Everett Frank ’15 wrote Don Griffin, Secretary of the Graduate Council, that he had located the newsreels, which Griffin was welcome to borrow). The Woodrow Wilson footage on the reel is followed by the commencement activities of what seems to be the Class of 1928. That, and related footage, will be the subject of a future blog.
This footage on this 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (part of item no. 0192)

ADDENDUM:

Long-time Mudd Library researcher and friend W. Barksdale Maynard ’88 writes:

These newsreels are extremely rare for showing Woodrow Wilson in Princeton. Thank you for making them available for all of us.

Some corrections:

You say, “The newsreels that follow show US President Woodrow Wilson, Hibben’s predecessor, when he returned to Princeton to vote in 1913 or 1915 and in 1916.” See below where I argue for dates of 1915 and 1918, instead.

You say, “This footage may have been from Wilson’s visit on September 28, 1915 [or] September 23, 1913.” I would argue for September 1918: note what is apparently a World War One service flag at 2:36. Still photos at AC117 box 242 (wrongly dated) show exactly the same secret service delegation; I believe these are from Sept. 1918.

You say, “The very brief footage that follows at 3:15, showing Wilson greeting women, was taken when he voted in the NJ primary on April 25, 1916.” In fact I believe this shows his visit of October 1915 (when he made an historic pro-suffrage vote), during which visit he wore identical clothing to what is shown in the newsreel and, in addition, Doctor Grayson wore identical clothing (based on still photos at AC117 box 242, one of which even shows the newsreel cameraman).

Sincerely,
Barksdale