This Week in Princeton History for November 30-December 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Henry Ward Beecher celebrates the football team’s defeat, Patrick Stewart lectures on campus, and more.

December 1, 1883—While preaching to his congregation in Brooklyn, Henry Ward Beecher says, “I stood yesterday to see Yale and Princeton at football. I always did hate Princeton, but I took notice there was not a coward on either side, although I thank God that Yale beat [them].”

December 2, 1811—John Randolph (Class of 1791) writes of his experiences at Princeton when he and his brother were both students:

[Samuel Stanhope Smith] called us into his library and interrogated us about our Indian descent—we knew nothing more than that we derived it through our grand-mother, whom it suited him to make the daughter of Pocahontas, in order that we might be in defiance of time and fact in the fourth descent from her. He gave us, about that time, a copy of his essay [on race], which now lies before me, with my marginal notes. I cannot think of Princeton (where my ardor for learning was first damped) with any sort of patience.


December 5, 1995—Patrick Stewart lectures on acting in Shakespeare’s plays at 185 Nassau. Because so many of the general public have lined up to see him, few students are able to attend, provoking discussions of ways to ensure students have the opportunity to have priority admission to high profile lectures. The venue, which seats 220, was chosen because Stewart does not like to use microphones and does not want to strain his voice.

Advertisement from Town Topics.

December 6, 1970—More than 90% of the membership of Tower Club vote in favor of allowing women to bicker (i.e., apply for membership). Treasurer Norris H. Bokum ’71 explains, “There was no valid reason to vary membership on the basis of sex.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

This Week in Princeton History for November 23-29

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a new dress code is approved, a petition urges administrators to address escalating crime on campus, and more.

November 24, 1898—Leslie’s Weekly praises Joseph M. Huston, Class of 1892, for his work as a Philadelphia architect: “Perhaps the most attractive feature next to the visit of the President himself, at the Philadelphia Peace Jubilee, was the court of honor, the beautiful structure made up of arches and pillars extending over several blocks, through which the parade marched in the presence of the official visitors on adjacent stands.”

Peace Jubilee Court of Honor, Philadelphia, 1898. Image courtesy New York Public Library.

November 25, 1818—The Board of Trustees approves a new dress code: “Every student shall possess a black gown, which shall be made agreeably to a fashion which the faculty shall prescribe, and all the students of the college shall appear in their gowns on all such occasions as shall be specified and announced to them by the trustees or faculty of the college.”

November 26, 1974—More than 500 students’ names appear on a petition to Princeton administrators to take steps to reduce crime on campus, a sign of ongoing tensions between students and administrators about whether more can be done to address escalating concerns about student safety.

Student petition urging Princeton University administrators to address concerns about public safety and crime, Daily Princetonian, November 26, 1974.

November 27, 1833—Virginia’s Alexandria Gazette reports that two Princeton students, both seniors, have coincidentally both died within weeks of one another, both of tetanus after being shot accidentally.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

Dear Mr. Mudd: Have Orange and Black Always Been Princeton’s Colors?

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Have orange and black always been Princeton’s colors?

There were no official school colors at the College of New Jersey (better known simply as “Princeton” as early as 1756) until it assumed the name Princeton University in 1896. Students complained about this in the June 1867 Nassau Literary Magazine, then the baseball team wore orange badges with black lettering in a baseball game that month. George Ward, Class of 1869, had suggested orange in honor of William of Orange and of Nassau, for whom Nassau Hall is named.

As can be seen in this 1889 menu for the Class of 1879’s tenth reunion dinner, the cannon was a longstanding symbol of Princeton and one that predates other symbols. In part, the cannon contributed the black in the orange and black color scheme eventually adopted (more information below). Woodrow Wilson Collection (MC168), Box 44, Folder 4.

The colors of William of Orange were orange and blue, and orange and black came about largely through repetition more than intent. In fact, the 1874 baseball uniforms had orange trimming against a “greyish blue,” perhaps reflective of the original orange and blue color scheme for the House of Nassau. Yet it seems unlikely that with blue’s already-close association with Yale that it would have achieved much popularity for Princetonians, who hoped to show their school pride by bearing their team colors at sporting events. A sea of blue on both sides would have been counterproductive.

Poster advertising the Yale-Princeton Thanksgiving Day football game, November 26, 1891. Office of Athletic Communication Records.

Faculty approved the wearing of orange ribbons with “Princeton” printed on them in black ink to represent the College of New Jersey on October 12, 1868. Students in the regatta at Saratoga, New York in 1874 wore orange and black ribbons on their hats, which had been purchased by William Libbey of the Class of 1877. Libbey popularized the wearing of the orange and black on campus.

Sample of orange and black ribbon purchased by William Libbey in 1873 (note the orange has faded somewhat over time). Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 391, Folder 1.

Rumors circulated at Rutgers that they should not choose orange and black as their colors because those colors belonged to Princeton, though this had not officially been set. In 1876, Princeton’s football team wore black jerseys with an orange “P” on the chest in their game against Yale. By the end of the 1870s, orange and black were understood to be Princeton’s colors, but this was not official until 1896, when the Board of Trustees adopted orange and black as the colors of the gowns for Princeton University as they changed the name of the institution. At the time, some were advocating that the colors be changed to orange and blue to reflect the historical significance of the pairing as the original colors of House of Nassau, but this did not win the day. By that time, Princeton was closely associated with three symbols–the tiger, the cannon, and the tiger lily–all of which had black in their color schemes.

Example of the tiger lily as a symbol of Princeton from the program for the Yale-Princeton polo game, June 18, 1892. Scrapbook Collection (AC026), Box 194. Another, late 20th-century example can be seen on our Tumblr page.

Though the tiger gradually edged out the tiger lily and the cannon as the most popular mascot, Princeton’s orange also drifted away from what one would normally see in the coloring of a large cat. In 1960, the Trustees adopted an official shade of orange, to be known as “Princeton Orange, a far brighter one than an actual tiger’s fur.

Sources:

Board of Trustees Records (AC120)

Historical Subject Files (AC109)

Papers of Princeton

For further reading:

Armstrong, April C. “When Did the College of New Jersey Change to Princeton University?

Cleeton, Christa. “Which Came First? The Tiger or His Stripes?

Linke, Dan. “When Did People Start Referring to the College of New Jersey as Princeton?

This Week in Princeton History for November 16-22

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a controversial statue finds a home on campus, ticket scalping for sporting events is causing concern, and more.

November 17, 1978—Princeton accepts a statue Kent State University rejected, George Segal’s “Abraham and Isaac,” which memorializes the Kent State Massacre. Officials at Kent State have said that they fear the statue would incite more violence.

People viewing George Segal’s “Abraham and Isaac” on Princeton University’s campus, ca. 1978. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD09, Folder 1.

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Demystifying Mudd: Photo Editing and Digital Enhancement of Images

If you’ve followed us here or on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr), you have seen images that I have edited for use online. I do this for a number of reasons, and with a variety of considerations in mind, always attempting to balance the aesthetic needs of on-screen viewing with keeping images true-to-life. I don’t, for example, erase a tear or a stain, but I do make adjustments. For these reasons, the scans you request through our Imaging Services for your own personal reference use will look a bit different than what I have put online sometimes.

A photographer of almost any skill level will tell you that although cameras mimic our eyes, they are not human eyes, and therefore see things differently. This is just as true when we’re trying to give you the experience of looking at an original photograph through what you see on screen. Our cameras and scanners don’t work like human eyes, either. The images they produce don’t look quite like the natural world does, even if they appear realistic. If you’ve ever cropped something out or applied a filter to your social media photos, you know that the world you’re creating is not the same as the one we actually live in. Yet sometimes adjustments bring us closer to, rather than farther away from, the original world depicted in an image.

Today, I want to tell you about some of the ways I use technology—typically Photoshop—to enhance what you see online, and how these tools can actually do more than just make things look better. They can also help us see more than our eyes can. Even so, making things look better on your screen is a valid reason to make adjustments, so long as I take care not to deceive you. This photo scan, for example, was just a bit too dingy to look appealing online.

Princeton’s Reunion and Witherspoon Halls with a train from the Pennsylvania Railroad in the foreground, 1879. Original scan. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP17, Image No. 406.

Some slight adjustments can improve the appearance without misleading anyone about the nature of the photo. I’ll crop out the edges and lighten everything up a bit.

Princeton’s Reunion and Witherspoon Halls with a train from the Pennsylvania Railroad in the foreground, 1879. Enhanced digital image. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP17, Image No. 406.

When you see the original photograph in person, you won’t feel that it is a different one than what you’ve seen online. In cases like this, where brightness of the scanned image may be influenced by the equipment used to scan it and you would easily match my work to the original, I let my edits go unmentioned in captions.

Sometimes there are considerations other than simply looking more attractive on your screen, however. Technology can help us see what time has gradually eroded from the original, and this occasionally takes precedence for me, as I am attempting to reveal the past as best I can. Consider this photo of William F. Doty, Class of 1896, hanging out in a dorm room in 1892. The fading of this image is significant. It’s hard to read the sign behind him.

William F. Doty, Class of 1896, in 1892. Original scan. Historical Photograph Collection, Alumni Photographs Series (AC058), Box SP18.

Taking a heavier hand with my editing reveals more than our eyes can see in the original. Using a diverse array of adjustments to exposure, contrast, color balance, saturation, and tone brings us closer to Doty’s world. Now we can see that someone had a sense of humor; the sign above Doty reads, “This is my busy day. Make it short.” We also get a much better look at Doty himself.

William F. Doty, Class of 1896, in 1892. Enhanced digital image. Historical Photograph Collection, Alumni Photographs Series (AC058), Box SP18.

Color photos and slides present other challenges. Many archivists hate color photos; color fades much more than black and white, and not all colors fade at the same rate. There is a dramatic example in a series of slides found in the Admission Office Records (AC152) where the originals are discolored to the extent that you might think some of them hadn’t been color photos at all.

Typing and talking at Princeton University, ca. 1970. Original scan. Admission Office Records (AC152), Box 9.

Yet Photoshop can see what we can’t—the vestiges of the blues and greens that remain in the sea of reddish orange—and can bring back a lot of what time has lost. By using the tools the software offers, I can change the color balance to heighten that disappearing green and blue, among other tweaks I might make. In the example below, I also adjusted the angle of the original scan slightly to make it read better on screen.

Typing and talking at Princeton University, ca. 1970. Enhanced digital image. Admission Office Records (AC152), Box 9.

You can find more examples of this kind of color restoration in a post I prepared for the Princeton University Archives Tumblr.

Where I use this more heavy-handed digital enhancement, I add a note to indicate it, so that if you view the original you’ll know that we don’t have other, less-faded copies hidden away somewhere. In the balance between visual appeal and accurate representation of the way something appears in our physical collections, visual appeal occasionally wins. Sometimes looking at the original isn’t the way to get the clearest sense of the world previous generations occupied. Using technology to enhance our understanding of history has long been common practice for those handling older materials like ancient papyri, especially with multispectral scanners, but it has benefits for how we view more recent centuries, too.

This Week in Princeton History for November 9-15

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate student gets help from the FBI to track down stolen microscopic slides, the YWCA opens a Hostess House for Navy officers in training, and more.

Couple at Princeton, ca. 1950. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 1, Folder 2.

November 9, 1959—A graduate student has gotten the help of the FBI and is offering a $100 reward to anyone with information that leads to the discovery of his 500 stolen microscopic slides, which represent 3 years of research.

November 11, 1949—Princeton’s debate team loses to Yale on the question of whether women should commit suicide to avoid premarital sex or rape. Princeton argues that they should. Yale’s winning dissent focuses on how men will suffer if women die to avoid “dishonor.” “Dishonor can be fun. … Princeton’s theory can only result in mass feminine suicide. Shall we deprive the world of a ravishing woman simply because she is in danger of being ravished?”

November 12, 1928—Wallace M. Sinclair, Class of 1904, survives the sinking of the SS Vestris off the coast of Virginia, which kills more than 100 people.

November 13, 1918—The Princeton Girls Patriotic League (later the YWCA) opens a Hostess House in Quadrangle Club for the men training to be Navy paymasters who are living at the Graduate College.

Princeton’s Girls Patriotic League is visible behind the women of the New Jersey Red Cross in this parade down Nassau Street to raise money for the Liberty Loan Fund in 1918. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8646.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

Dear Mr. Mudd: Did Thich Nhat Hanh Attend or Teach at Princeton University?

Dear Mr. Mudd,

I’ve read that Thich Nhat Hanh was a Princeton student, and also that he taught there. Do you have records associated with this?

In Fragrant Palm Leaves, set for re-release in 2020, prominent Buddist peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about his time in Princeton, New Jersey in the 1960s. The way he wrote, and subsequently spoke, about this time has raised questions about what he was doing in town, such as whether he taught, studied, or both, and whether that was at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) or Princeton University. These are separate institutions and always have been, but their names and close relationship have often caused confusion.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Alexander Hall, ca. 1843. Image courtesy Princeton Theological Seminary Archives.

We have located no records associated with him ever having been a student or faculty member at Princeton University. However, he is listed as a student at PTS in their 1961-1963 Handbook. At that time, he was using the name Nguyen Xuan Bao. You can find the Handbook online in two parts:

You can also find a photograph of him with other PTS students in this magazine article.

Though not a student at Princeton University, he could have taken courses here while a PTS student, as many PTS students have done throughout history and still do today. In 1961 the University hired a specialist in Buddhism to offer some new courses, Kenneth S. Chen, which expanded the department’s offerings in courses concerning Eastern religions, which might have made it more likely for Hanh to have been on campus. He could also, potentially, have worked as a preceptor. Aside from this, he may have interacted with Princeton University students socially. Fragrant Palm Leaves contains references to a Japanese student named Kenji. This may have been Princeton University graduate student Kenji Kobayashi *61.

This Week in Princeton History for November 2-8

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, two seniors are attacked while watching the polls, gender disparities in pension plans are defended, and more.

November 4, 1845—A large group of students accompanies the body of Richard Stockton Boudinot, Class of 1847, to Newark for his burial. Boudinot died following an accidental gunshot wound to the head.

November 5, 1987—The Daily Princetonian reports on the experiences of the town’s au pairs, many of whom are employed illegally. More than 20 young women from a variety of foreign countries live and work in the homes of local families for $100-$150/week (about $230-$340 in 2020 dollars). Often, they spend time on campus in the evenings, because there is so little to do in town.

November 7, 1933—A group of six men attack two Princeton seniors. H. A. Rutherford and Morgan Wing, Jr., both of the Class of 1934, are engaged in poll watching for the Fusion Party in New York when the attack happens. An attack on Fusion Party headquarters by six men this same night indicates a political motivation.

November 8, 1974—Discrimination in Princeton’s pension plans, which pay female retirees less per month than their male counterparts, is illegal, but the university defends its practice on the basis that women live longer.

Men and women at work in Princeton University’s New South Hall, 1966. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8659.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

Fighting for the World’s Children: Henry R. Labouisse’s Service in UNICEF

By Diana Dayoub ’21

For development is not just roads, power plants, stepped up production in industry and agriculture. Development is people, beginning with the child.

Henry R. Labouisse at the Inaugural Meeting of the UNICEF Executive Board 

Henry Labouisse Portrait (MC199, Box 24, Folder 4).

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This Week in Princeton History for October 26-November 1

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Cane Spree inspires a songwriter, Buddhists chant in Alexander Hall, and more.

October 27, 1868—The freshman defeat of the sophomores in the cane spree inspires the song “Siege of Canes.”

A selection of carved canes carried by students at Princeton in the mid-to-late 19th century. Photo by April C. Armstrong. Memorabilia Collection (AC053), Box Z13.

October 28, 1998—Bob Smiley ’99 appears on Party of Five.

October 29, 1829—A resident writes to the Philadelphia National Gazette to praise the “Salubrity of Princeton, N.J.”: “but two students belonging to the college have died from this institution. One of these was of consumption, brought with him–the other of a fever, the consequence of a severe cold. No epidemic has ever prevailed in this place except the dysentery on one or two occasions–but without causing the death of a single member of the college.”

October 30, 1969—The leader of Nichiren Shoshu of America, a Buddhist sect of Japanese origins, offers a chanting seminar in Alexander Hall.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.