This Week in Princeton History for August 2-8

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Morrison Hall is under construction, James Carnahan takes the helm as president, and more.

August 2, 1836–The Boston Traveler reports: “Princeton, N. J.—This is now one of the most flourishing places in our sister state, and various handsome buildings are being erected there with astonishing rapidity. Among these are the new college edifice, which is nearly finished; two halls for the use of public societies; a new Presbyterian church; a new African church, (built by the Methodists,) and a banking house.”

The “college edifice” in the Boston Traveler‘s report was then named West College (now Morrison Hall). It is shown above ca. 1860. Photograph by George Warren. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP87, Image No. 3580.

August 4, 1925—The Borough Council approves a plan to pave Witherspoon Street.

August 6, 1823—James Carnahan is installed as president of the College of New Jersey in Princeton. An observer writes, “At ten in the morning, the Collegians, and members of the Theological Seminary, assembled in the College Chapel, whence they marched in procession to the Church. The largeness of the assembly was only equalled [sic] by its highly respectable appearance. The fair part of the audience, in particular, fully confirmed our opinion of the modesty and beauty of the Princeton ladies.”

August 8, 1979—A member of the Class of 1980 files suit against Princeton for negligence related to his December 16, 1977 fall from the roof of Patton Hall. The institution maintains that its policies prohibiting students from going onto dormitory rooftops are clear.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 26-August 1

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the ADA takes effect, the Campus Center’s first birthday draws hundreds of guests, and more.

July 26, 1993—The Americans with Disabilities Act now protects Princeton employees from discrimination in the job application process and in the workplace.

July 27, 1833—An unnamed Princeton student is carrying the will of a man on death row, Joel Clough, to the prisoner’s mother.

July 28, 1986—The Daily Princetonian warns incoming students about the mandatory swim test, which requires all new Princetonians to prove they can stay afloat for 10 minutes.

July 31, 1944—The Campus Center celebrates its first anniversary in Murray-Dodge Hall with a birthday cake and about 700 guests. In its first year, it has served refreshments to an average of 10,000 students and servicemen per month.

People walk by Murray-Dodge Hall, ca. 1940s. Photograph by Elizabeth Menzies. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP38, Image No. 1126.

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Dear Mr. Mudd: Why Do You Have a Piece of a Railroad Track in the Library?

Dear Mr. Mudd,

Why do you have a “cross section of railroad” in your Memorabilia Collection (AC053)?

 

In 1855, for the second time in its near-century of existence, Nassau Hall suffered a devastating fire. At the time, Nassau Hall still served in part as one of Princeton’s dormitories. An undergraduate had gone to Maclean House and a burning log fell out of a stove in his room. As the structure ignited, flames lit up the sky for miles around. The interior of the building was almost entirely destroyed, with even the college bell, which had survived the 1802 fire, left in pieces among the ruins. Fortunately for those of us interested in documenting the institution’s history, faculty and students rushed papers, artwork, and other valuable property to safety before the flames fully engulfed the building. Aside from one student who fell and broke his leg, no one was hurt.

F. Childs lithograph of Nassau Hall, ca. 1860. Nassau Hall Iconography Collection (AC177), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 19-25

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, local stations “dim out” to help the state prepare for nuclear attack, the Board of Trustees decides on building materials for Nassau Hall, and more.

July 19, 1875—Maine’s Portland Daily Press reassures spectators of the Saratoga boat race that George D. Parmly of the Princeton crew does not have epilepsy, but just fainted from exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

July 20, 1956—The local regular radio and television stations pause for a “dim-out” as part of “Operation Alert 1956” by the New Jersey Civil Defense. The only broadcasts will be on civil defense wavelengths. This communications test is part of the state’s preparations for the possibility of nuclear attack.

July 22, 1754—The Board of Trustees vote that “the College be built of Brick if good Brick can be made at Princeton & if Sand can be got reasonably cheap.” Ultimately, Nassau Hall will be made of stone.

Nassau Hall as it appeared in New American Magazine, March 1760. Local quarries supplied stone for many of Princeton’s buildings over the centuries. Nassau Hall was built of local sandstone. Nassau Hall Iconography Collection (AC177), Box 1.

July 23, 1825—Students attend a meeting of the New Jersey Colonization Society.

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10 Movies Filmed on Princeton University’s Campus

By Iliyah Coles ’22

Princeton is known for is its aesthetically-pleasing architecture. To some producers, the campus environment makes it an ideal location for shooting a movie. Here is a list of 10 movies that were filmed on Princeton’s campus.


Varsity (1929)

One of Paramount’s first dialogue films (a “talkie”), Varsity was directed by Frank Tuttle and starred Charles Rogers. The main character, Jimmy Duffy, is a college student, who happens to be the janitor’s (Pop’s) son but doesn’t know it. Pop was an alcoholic and was ruled as unfit to parent, so Jimmy was separated from him as a child. Pop watches over Jimmy in college as he grows up and falls in love. Phillip Holmes ‘30 and Charles E. Arnt, Jr. ‘29 were both Princeton undergraduates who appeared in the film, and later were in several other movies. The Princeton sets built during Varsity were also used in the film She Loves Me Not (1934), for which Arnt was the technical director

First page of a letter written to John Grier Hibben by Eleanor H. Boyd, November 16, 1928. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 394, Folder 7.

Many people were offended by the film, including a woman who wrote to John Grier Hibben about the way in which Princeton students were portrayed. She described the plot as “[…] a portrayal of a Princeton student in one drunken debauch after another.” Following the public outcry, the film was pulled in February 1929. No known copies were preserved Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for July 12-18

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, two juniors evacuate their summer program abroad when war breaks out, word is spreading about a ban on secret societies, and more.

July 13, 1895—Native Americans are rumored to have raided a party of Princeton students on a scientific expedition in the American west, but this will later prove false.

July 16, 2006—After days of uncertainty, Callie Lefevre ’09 and Emily Norris ’09 flee Beirut for Cyprus following the outbreak of war between Lebanon and Israel. “I felt like a first-class citizen on the Titanic,” Lefevre will later reflect.

Callie Lefevre ’09 reunites with her mother at Newark Airport, 2006. Clipping from the Daily Princetonian.

July 17, 1930—A bronze memorial tablet is dedicated in Pershing Hall in Paris, the first such memorial to be placed there. It contains the names of the Princeton alumni who died in World War I.

July 18, 1855—Virginia’s Alexandria Gazette reports that Princeton has banned secret societies and students will be required to sign a pledge not to join one. Any student found to be in a secret society will be promptly dismissed.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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How Bicycles Changed Princeton, 1860s-1910s

Bicycles are seemingly ubiquitous at and around Princeton University in our time. The ever-present sight of bicycles parked near campus buildings or cyclists making their way across campus or along the D & R Canal raises no eyebrows; their absence, as with the absence of other forms of traffic, was one of the most noteworthy aspects of local life during the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020. Yet there was once a Princeton where bicycles were unknown, and their appearance presented a concerning novelty.

Bicycle in Princeton, ca 1880s. Historical Photograph Collection, Student Photograph Albums Series (AC061), Box 186.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, staffing levels force the U-Store to close for one hour each day, the CIA notes payments have been sent to researchers involved in secret experiments, and more.

July 5, 1945—Due to “depleted staff,” the Princeton University Store will close for lunch from 1:00-2:00PM daily beginning on this date through September 10th.

Clipping from the Princeton Bulletin.

July 6, 1936—The Princeton Township Committee discusses the challenges they face as those employed at Princeton University’s eating clubs and other academic-year-only positions will require public aid to meet expenses “due to summer lay offs.”

July 7, 1922—Eva and Edward McEwen, who work at Dial Lodge and Cap and Gown Club, respectively, welcome the birth of their daughter, Eva Felica McEwen, who will later serve Princetonians at Rockefeller College and will tell students stories about the desegregation of all of the town’s educational institutions. “I can remember working for professors (at their homes) when I was only in high school who said they didn’t want ‘different ones’ there. … They knew they didn’t want Afro-Americans, they did not want Jewish people. I knew this because they told me. And I couldn’t understand that.”

July 9, 1958–As part of project MKULTRA, which is conducting secret experiments with LSD at 86 American colleges, the CIA notes it has made payments of more than $3,000 to two Princetonians through “an unwitting consultant” at Princeton University.

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 June 28-July 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a London magazine notes the impact of Prohibition on Princetonians, Yale offers condolences on the death of a rising senior, and more.

June 29, 1869—The American Whig Society celebrates its centennial.

July 2, 1927—The London Graphic reports on life at Princeton: “Before Prohibition, the Princeton ‘tigers’…were like German students in being noted beer-drinkers. Now their only relics of past prowess and happier days are their ‘beer-suits,’ which seniors wear for a special celebration on their return to ‘school.’”

July 3, 1891—Students from Yale write to students from Princeton to offer condolences on the death of Frederick Brokaw, Class of 1892, noting that Yalies and Princetonians attend college “with the same purpose and aim, the development of a manly Christian character…” Brokaw died trying to save three women from drowning at the Jersey Shore, and was known beyond Princeton as the baseball team’s catcher. The Yale baseball team will send a floral arrangement to Brokaw’s funeral.

Frederick Brokaw. Image from the 1892 Nassau Herald.

July 4, 1837—Independence Day is celebrated on campus “with unusual spirit,” including cannon salutes firing, a ceremonial procession to the Chapel, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and at least eight speeches throughout the course of the day.

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

A Princeton-Area Nazi Boys Camp and Civil Liberties in New Jersey in the 1930s

The people of Princeton were on edge one summer in 1934. Six miles away on the banks of the Delaware & Raritan Canal in Griggstown, 200 boys ranging in age between 8 and 16 from New York, Buffalo, and Philadelphia were camping in tents that bore swastika emblems, wearing uniforms apparently modeled on the “Brown Shirts,” singing and speaking in German, and conducting daily military-style drills under the supervision of Hugo Haas, a 23-year-old German immigrant they referred to as “der Führer” (the Leader). The camp opened on a day that turned out to be significant for the American Nazi movement, August 6, 1934, the same date as mass rallies in New York’s Madison Square Garden and other cities nationwide, representing a notable escalation of Nazi activity in the United States. A group then named the Friends of the New Germany sponsored Camp Wille und Macht (which translates to “Will and Power” and was also the name of a Nazi youth magazine in Germany) as a pilot program to test out the idea of a Jungenschaft (the German Youth Movement) summer camp for American children of German descent. It quickly drew both local and national censure, but also raised important questions about American civil liberties.

Madison Square Garden, May 17, 1934. There were multiple such rallies held in New York in this decade. Image taken from Kämpfendes Deutschtum: Jahrbuch des Amerikadeutschen Volkesbundes auf das Jahr 1937, found in the American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001).

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