This Week in Princeton History for May 14-20

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the third term of the academic year begins, dining halls begin serving water instead of milk for lunch, and more.

May 14, 1975—The Eastern regional conference of Women in Higher Education Administration meets at Princeton.

May 16, 1859—James W. Reese’s Valedictory Oration for the Class of 1859 seems precognitive in its reference to the battlefield.

Robert Edgar’s Valedictory Ode to the Senior Class of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) May 16, 1859. Princeton University Class Records (AC130), Box 4. Though the third stanza of Edgar’s ode refers to a metaphorical battlefield, many of the Class of 1859 fought against one another on literal battlefields. About half (35) of the 73-member class fought in the Civil War, 15 for the Union and 20 for the Confederacy.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Albert Einstein lectures on the Theory of Relativity, the track team competes in the first relay race, and more.

May 7, 1875—The Chicago Tribune editorializes in a comparison between Rutgers College and the College of New Jersey (Princeton), “Princeton is much better known. It is the only college in the country the President of which writes a book a week and thinks nothing of it.”

May 9, 1921—Albert Einstein accepts an honorary Doctor of Science and lectures on his theory of relativity in his native German in McCosh 50. Afterward, Professor E. P. Adams provides an English summary of the talk.

Ticket to lecture on the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein, May 9, 1921. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 310, Folder 4.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 30-May 6

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the College of New Jersey takes a step toward becoming a university, a woman is named Dean of the College for the first time, and more.

May 1, 1989—The economics department is polling students about their experiences with sexism alongside the usual questions on course evaluations at the direction of chair Richard Quandt ’52, but students and faculty are confused about the motivations behind the survey.

May 2, 1879—The Princetonian reports that, in “One step towards a University,” “A medical Department has been started at the Halsted Observatory.”

Halsted Observatory, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image 8669.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 23-29

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, opponents and supporters of Richard Nixon clash, an undergraduate riot shocks the nation, and more.

April 24, 1974—Students from the Attica Brigade in favor of Richard Nixon’s impeachment burn him in effigy in front of Blair Arch while supporters of Nixon throw water from the top of the arch to attempt to stop the protest.

Bumper stickers advocating the impeachment of Richard Nixon, ca. 1973-1974. American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), Box 2035, Folder 3.

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Comic Books, Censorship, and Moral Panic

By Zachary Bampton ’20

Previously on this blog we covered the educational and political aspirations of comic books in American popular culture. Keen interest in comics as teaching tools–or as propaganda–reflected a public awareness of the power of the medium. However, Americans did not always receive comics well. In the 1950s, creative expression came into the crosshairs of public officials wishing to tamp down on juvenile delinquency. Library book banning and film censorship occurred throughout the country. With regard to comics, many felt concerned by the disturbing and deviant subject matter, particularly in “horror” or “crime” comics. With materials selected from the American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), we will chronicle the move towards self-censorship by the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) and the creation of the Comics Code Authority (CCA).

Into the 1950s, community and national organizations voiced concerns over subversive content found in comic books. In the words of Reverend Thomas J. Fitzgerald of Chicago, depictions of “crime, disrespect for law, rape, infidelity, perversion, etc.” troubled adults who thought of the impact on children (American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), Box 773, Folder 25). While comics across the board received criticism, a certain genre stood out from the rest, aptly referred to as “crime comics” or horror comics.

“The Tormented,” July 1954. American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), Box 768, Folder 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 16-22

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a young professor dies of AIDS, the Princetonian begins publishing every other day, and more.

April 16, 1995—Assistant professor of English Walter C. Hughes, age 34, dies of AIDS.

Walter C. Hughes, ca. 1990s. Photo from the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

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A Message from Valencia L. Johnson, Project Archivist for Student Life

By Valencia L. Johnson

Hello everyone! My name is Valencia L. Johnson and I am excited to venture into a new role at Princeton University Library’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, home of the University Archives and the Public Policy Papers. I have been a part of the Mudd team since June 2017 starting off as a John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellow. In my new role as the Project Archivist for Student Life, I aim to create an environment where students can create history for themselves. This is a very broad statement but it truly captures the spirit of the position. Students shape the trajectory of the University as much as the administration, and it is important that the archives reflect this dynamic. My work will involve making connections across campus with various student organizations, student publications, residential colleges, the graduate school, cultural and affinity centers, and alumni. I plan on hosting public programming events that will strengthen the record keeping aspect of organizations, introduce people to personal digital archiving, and engender a sense of ownership within the Princeton University Archives for students. In addition to this public outreach, I will process acquisitions, reprocess existing collections, and write finding aids. If you have questions about the position, me, or want to learn more about archiving, I can be reached via email.

This Week in Princeton History for April 9-15

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a group of undergraduate activists derail a segregationist group on campus, the Nassau Literary Review protests police abuse of firearms, and more.

April 9, 1964—Activists in favor of integration carry out a coup in the leadership of the Committee for Racial Reconciliation, a pro-segregation student organization, electing African American Robert F. Engs ’65 as its vice president, making headlines and sparking immediate controversy throughout the United States.

Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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Acción Puertorriqueña and Divisions among Puerto Ricans at Princeton

By Mario Garcia ’18

Founded in 1972, Acción Puertorriqueña—later known as Acción Puertorriqueña y Amigos—was a student group initially consisting of Puerto Rican undergraduates and later allies who sought to create spaces for Puerto Rican cultures on Princeton’s campus through cultural events and student-led activism. Such celebratory events included the beginnings of Latino Graduation in 1990 and National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1989 as commemorations of the experiences of Princeton students descending from Latin American ancestry, while activist initiatives included lobbying for seminars related to Puerto Rican histories and recruitment programs for Puerto Rican students in the 1970s as strategies for empowering Puerto Rican communities on campus.

Event flyer, 1981. Carl Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding Records (AC342), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Judicial Committee makes its first disciplinary decisions, the campus debates housing policies for same sex couples, and more.

April 2, 1917—Senator Henry Cabot Lodge attacks Alexander Bannwart, Class of 1906, in the only known case of a U.S. Senator physically attacking a constituent. Bannwart and two others visited the Massachusetts senator to protest President Woodrow Wilson’s request for a Congressional declaration of war against Germany.

Alexander Bannwart, ca. 1906. Historical Photograph Collection, Student Photograph Albums Series (AC061), Box 116.

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