A small exhibit currently on display in the lobby of Mudd Library contains archival material highlighting Princeton’s connections to slavery. The exhibit includes an offer of financial support on the condition that students be admitted “irrespective of Color” rejected by the Board of Trustees in 1835 and an 1861 note in a student’s autograph book signed “Though your deadly foe in public I am in private life your friend,” among other items.
We’ve previously written about Princeton’s antebellum reputation as the “most southern of all the northern colleges.” Before and after the Civil War, Princeton took care to consider the comfort of its white southern students and alumni. Admitting students “irrespective of Color” would not have fit with the campus culture. Instead, we often find evidence of strong relationships between students from either side of the Mason Dixon and an attempt at institutional neutrality on the issue of slavery in our records.
This exhibit will remain on display until after the Princeton and Slavery Symposium, scheduled for November 17-18, 2017.