Archiving Email at the Princeton University Archives

Changes in leadership, especially at universities, give archivists an opportunity to transfer records into the archives. Such was the case when the current Dean of the College, Valerie Smith, accepted a position as the new president of Swarthmore College, a post she will assume in just over a month. Dan Linke, the University Archivist, and I visited her office to meet with Dean Smith and her staff to inform them of our procedures for transferring office records—paper documents, as well as born digital material such as Word documents, SharePoint sites, etc. Soon into the conversation we began to discuss the prospect of email capture, a task that we had only haphazardly done in the past through preserving Microsoft Word documents used to compose memos, PDF’s generated from email applications, and printouts included within paper collections.

Pictured here is the full email header from a message in the publicly available Enron Email Dataset.

Pictured here is the full email header from a message in the publicly available Enron Email Dataset. Click image to expand.

Two compelling reasons forced us to find a way to conduct an email transfer directly from Dean Smith’s account. First, she is a pioneer at Princeton many times over; in addition to being the first black woman to earn tenure at the University, Dean Smith later served as the first director of the University’s renowned Center for African-American Studies before becoming the first black person to serve as Dean of the College. Second, we knew that the previous methods of email transfer limited access possibilities and stripped emails of their contexts, including lost attachments, missing email header information, and inefficient search capacities.

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African Americans and Princeton University

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q. What information do you have about African Americans and Princeton University?

A. Until the twentieth century, Princeton’s history has mostly been dominated by white men, typically from prosperous backgrounds. Though decidedly pro-Union during the Civil War, the campus had strong Southern influences, and its reputation as the “northernmost university town of the [segregated] south” was not undeserved. Yet that is not to say that Princeton’s story can only be told in terms of its loudest voices. Here, we give a brief overview of some of the ways African Americans fit into Princeton’s past.

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Princeton University cheerleaders, 1995. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP9, Image No. 2484.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 25-31

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the very first classes are held, a scientific expedition photographs an eclipse, and more.

May 26, 1888—The Glee Club performs for sitting First Lady Frances Fulsom Cleveland and a crowd of nearly a thousand at a reception in her honor. After the concert, she attends the Yale-Princeton baseball game wearing Princeton’s colors and carrying an orange and black bouquet.

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Frances Fulsom Cleveland. Grover Cleveland Collection (AC348), Box 1.

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Statistical Data Pertaining to Princeton University

With the launch of our new website, we’ve been updating a lot of our online information. Here, Anna Rubin ’15 has updated our table of statistical data pertaining to Princeton University to reflect data from the past few decades. Click to enlarge the table.

Statistical Data Pertaining to Princeton University graph

 

This Week in Princeton History for May 18-24

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, women’s lacrosse wins it all, a popular professor packs Alexander Hall, and more.

May 20, 1963—The Woodrow Wilson School building, renamed Corwin Hall, is moved 100 yards to make way for the new home of the Woodrow Wilson School, Robertson Hall, named in honor of donors Charles Robertson ’26 and his wife, Marie Robertson. A neighbor sells viewing space to benefit charity. Video may be viewed here.

May 22, 1994—The women’s lacrosse team wins the first-ever women’s varsity NCAA national championship in any sport for Princeton.

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Princeton’s women’s lacrosse team members celebrate. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box AD36, Folder 2.

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Reunions and the P-Rade

Princeton alumni have a passion for college reunions that is hard to find at most institutions. Each class descends upon the campus every May, as they have for generations.  In its early years, College of New Jersey (Princeton) drew alumni back to campus for Commencement, to meet classmates, to reunite with friends, and/or visit with favorite professors, both informally and at organized events. In 1826, alumni returning for Commencement formed the Alumni Association of Nassau Hall to “promote the interests of the college and the friendly intercourse of the graduates, and meetings were to be held annually in the Prayer Hall on commencement day.” James Madison, Class of 1771, was the Association’s first president, and future College president John Maclean was secretary.

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College of New Jersey (Princeton) Class of 1847 at Commencement, undated. Left to right: William H. Armstrong, H. Clay Cameron, William Silas Whitehead, Alfred Martien, and Henry B. Miller. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box AD24, Folder 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 11-17

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Charles Lindbergh sneaks through campus, baseball makes its television debut, and more.

May 12, 1999—The Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Princeton University hold a memorial service in Firestone Plaza for three Chinese journalists killed in a NATO bombing on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

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Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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“Dear Mother … with Heaps of Love”

This Mother’s Day, we thought we’d give a shout out to all the Princeton moms. Though Princeton has changed a lot over the years, one thing has remained pretty constant: many students want to share their academic triumphs, heartbreaks, and other local news with their mothers, who once received letters like this one and today more commonly hear from their children at Princeton via smart phone.

The letter below, one of hundreds of similar letters in our Student Correspondence and Writings Collection (AC334), was written ca. February 1913 by Peter Carter Speers, Class of 1914.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 4-10

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate pioneers new territory in aviation, a sitting American president visits the campus, and more.

May 4, 1970—On the same day as the Ohio National Guard shoots and kills four students at Kent State University during an anti-war protest, over 4,000 Princeton students, faculty, and administrators gather at Jadwin Gym and discuss how they will register their disapproval of the Nixon administration’s invasion of Cambodia. They vote to suspend final exams (audio and photos available here). In the aftermath of the “Princeton Strike,” the academic calendar will be revised to allow for a two-week break from classes in November to allow students to campaign during election years. This will later live on at 21st-century Princeton as a week-long fall break.

May 6, 1963—More than 1,500 undergraduates riot in Princeton for no apparent reason, causing extensive damage to the town and campus. Twelve students are arrested in connection with crimes committed during the riot, and a fine will be imposed on the student body at large to pay for repairs. More than 40 years later, Princeton President Robert Goheen will recall the riot disdainfully.

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The driver of this Volkswagen Beetle honked at rioters, who responded by surrounding the car, lifting it up, and placing it on a nearby sidewalk. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

May 8, 1919—Jim Breese, Princeton University Class of 1909, begins the world’s first transatlantic flight as the Reserve Pilot Engineer aboard the seaplane NC-4. The trip will take 23 days, during which Breese will earn the distinction of being the first person ever to shave on a plane. The Autostrop Company, manufacturer of his razor, will later buy it back from him for a reported $500 (about $12,000 in today’s currency).

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NC-4 preparing for transatlantic crossing, May 8, 1919. Photo from Princeton Alumni Weekly.

May 10, 1991—Sitting United States President George H. W. Bush is on campus to dedicate the University’s Social Science Complex and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. While accepting the degree (video here), Bush, a 1948 Yale graduate, talks about his first visit to Princeton during his senior year. “I was not treated quite so hospitably. It was out at the baseball diamond … Crowded along the first base line—it was very hostile, the way things were in Princeton—were a bunch of hyperventilating, celebrating alumni. And I remember standing there at first base and a gigantic tiger—I think his name was Neil Zundel—came to the plate. He lofted an easy fly toward Yale’s first baseman (me) and as I reached for the ball, the guy just sheer bowled me over to the cheers of the Princeton alumni. I was hurt. My pride was hurt. But P.S.: Yale won the ball game.”

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

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

Eating Clubs and “The Street”

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q. What are “eating clubs”? Did F. Scott Fitzgerald make them up? What is “The Street”?

A. Princeton alumnus F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise (1920) gave the world a glimpse into the exclusive social enclaves known as the Princeton eating clubs through the eyes of fictional student Amory Blaine. According to Blaine, each club had a different character and social standing on the campus. “The upper-class clubs, concerning which he had pumped a reluctant graduate during the previous summer, excited his curiosity: Ivy, detached and breathlessly aristocratic; Cottage, an impressive melange of brilliant adventurers and well-dressed philanderers; Tiger Inn, broad-shouldered and athletic, vitalized by an honest elaboration of prep-school standards; Cap and Gown; flamboyant Colonial; Literary Quadrangle, and the dozen others, varying in age and positions.” While today’s clubs may now have different reputations, various stereotypes continue to surround them.

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Couples at a Patton Club party, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box 154, Image No. 4237.

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