This Week in Princeton History for August 22-28

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a 1906 postcard gives a weather update, a Canadian library honors a Princeton president, and more.

August 23, 1906—Someone writes and sends a postcard to let a friend know that “The day is hot and the locusts are singing” at Princeton.

Blair_Hall_Postcard_AC045_Box_3

Historical Postcard Collection (AC045), Box 3.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for August 15-21

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, final exams ask about America’s future, a sophomore wins an unusual contest involving a bus, and more.

August 15, 1945—Future Dean of the Princeton University Chapel Ernest Gordon is freed after 40 months as a prisoner of war in the Japanese Kwai River camps.

Ernest_Gordon_undated_AC144_Box_35

Ernest Gordon, undated. Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel Records (AC144), Box 35.

Continue reading

Howard Edwards Gansworth and the “Indian Problem” at Princeton

For people of European descent carving out space for themselves in the present borders of the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a major barrier: people already lived there. The nation did not regard this as an insurmountable hurdle, however. America tried a variety of things as it expanded westward: driving Native Americans across continually shifting borders, attempting to assimilate them into a dominant white culture, and employing a variety of approaches in between. As the United States consumed more and more territory occupied by American Indians who attempted to maintain ownership, conflicts worsened. In the late 19th century, a crisis point had been reached. In 1890 and 1891, the Lakota Sioux fought a losing battle over treaty violations and land use with the United States Army. The Ghost Dance War resulted in the deaths of dozens of combatants on both sides and hundreds of Lakota Sioux civilians during its best-known battle, the Wounded Knee Massacre. During this period, Native Americans came under particular scrutiny.

At the College of New Jersey (Princeton), opinions were mixed about this so-called “Indian Problem.” A few weeks after the Ghost Dance War ended, students debated what should be done. One claimed “that though the good Indian was not the dead Indian, yet the good Indian had not yet been found.” Samuel Semple of the Class of 1891, who was selected as the winner of the debate’s $1,000 prize, argued that the only thing to do was to adopt Richard Pratt’s program of forced assimilation, removing Native American children from their homes and sending them to boarding schools. Pratt later famously summed up his program’s rationale in this way: “All the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Prize_debate_program_AC016_Box_84_Folder_31

Cliosophic Society Archives (AC016), Box 84, Folder 31.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for August 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a sophomore heads to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, a freshman meets Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, and more.

August 9, 1850—After a journey of nearly three weeks from Maybank, Georgia, Charles C. Jones, Jr. (Class of 1852) and his brother, Joseph Jones (Class of 1853) arrive in Princeton. Charles writes to let their parents know they have had a safe journey: “There is no institution (West Point scarcely excepted) where there is so complete and full a course of mathematics, and one upon which so great importance is imposed upon this branch, as is here the case. It appears to be their pride to maintain the highest stand in this particular, and consequently all who apply must meet their fullest requirements to the letter.”

August 10, 1964—Philip Hocker ’67 arrives in Jackson, Mississippi volunteering as a civil rights activist. A week later, a white resident will club him with an axe handle, the first in a series of harrowing experiences he will have living and working among African Americans in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.

Philip_Mackay_Hocker_Herald_1967

Philip Mackay Hocker, 1967 Nassau Herald.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for August 1-7

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a movie featuring the campus premieres, the library implements a new security policy, and more.

August 1, 1944—Wilson, a biopic film about Woodrow Wilson of the Class of 1879 partially set and filmed on campus, premieres at Roxy Theatre in New York.

Wilson_ticket_MC168_Box_45_Folder_6

Ticket to the premiere of Wilson, August 1, 1944. Woodrow Wilson Collection (MC168), Box 45, Folder 6.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for July 25-31

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Presbyterians worry about drinking, the campus operator has a bit less to do, and more.

July 27, 1937—William H. Smathers, who represents New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, writes a response to a letter from one of its professors, William Starr Myers, that makes headlines for its vitriol: “Your letter … convinces me that you are unfit to come in contact with youngsters and confirms my suspicion that ‘dear old Princeton’ would be a bad place to send my two boys who were born and raised in New Jersey. I would not want one of my sons to come under the influence of a mentality so small and so warped…” Myers wrote to Smathers to criticize him for voting in favor of expanding the Supreme Court to 15 justices as Franklin Delano Roosevelt had proposed.

July 29, 1897—The Prohibitionist New York Voice derides Princeton University for employing faculty who have signed a petition for a liquor license for the Princeton Inn, which they identify as the school’s “official grog shop”.

New York Voice headline

Headline from the New York Voice, July 29, 1897. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 343, Folder 2.

Continue reading

“Womanhood on Tiger Territory”: The First Women to Live in Princeton University Dormitories

We have previously written about the first women to take a class at Princeton University, unseating nearly two centuries of tradition. Today, we’re highlighting what our collections tell us about another group of women who changed Princeton’s established patterns as the first to live in campus dorms, another result of World War II’s radical changes to nearly every corner of American life.

During the war, many students left before graduating to enter military service. Completing their degrees posed challenges for both Princeton and its students. James M. Donnelly, Jr. ’43 wrote to administrator C. William Edwards on August 25, 1945. He hoped to return to Princeton, but there were special considerations. “I am also married and hope to bring my wife to Princeton when I return. However, the procedure I must follow to procure housing, with University aid, is also unclear.”

This wasn’t unclear only to Donnelly. Despite a commitment to allow its students to complete educations disrupted by war, the surge of returning veterans presented huge logistical problems for Princeton. Like Donnelly, many had married; some also had children. But residential colleges are not generally equipped to handle a large population of married undergraduates, and Princeton was no exception. This was, they anticipated, only a temporary problem, but nonetheless an urgent one.

One way Princeton responded to this new housing crisis was to build apartments, but these weren’t ready in time for Donnelly and many others. Thus, Princeton decided to have couples move into Brown Hall and a few other campus locations. For the first time in 200 years, women would live in dormitories at Princeton. If the students accepted these cramped accommodations, Princeton would allow them to return before the new Butler Apartments were constructed. A letter sent to one veteran by the Department of Grounds and Buildings warned, “None of the accommodations offered are at all satisfactory or desirable and very few have private baths or cooking facilities. Those which do are used for assignment to couples with a child.” Despite such ominous words, a significant number of veterans and their wives decided to come back to Princeton anyway.

Arriving_at_Brown_Hall_1946_AC112_Box_MP166_Image_6055

Couples arriving at Brown Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP166, Image No. 6055.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for July 18-24

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a group is disciplined for a bovine prank, an alumnus opens the Democratic National Convention, and more.

July 18, 1790—Three students are expelled and a fourth is disciplined for an incident the previous June 26 in which, following an evening of drinking at David Hamilton’s Tavern, they put a calf in the pulpit of Nassau Hall.

July 21, 1952—Adlai Stevenson ’22, governor of Illinois, opens the Democratic National Convention. Five days later, he will accept its nomination as United States president.

DNC_1952_MC124_Box_226_Folder_5

Democratic National Committee campaign handbook, 1952. Adlai Stevenson Papers (MC124), Box 226, Folder 5.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for July 11-17

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the logistics of emancipation are debated, plans for a School of Science are approved, and more.

July 11, 1944—Robert S. Ward ’42, a forward artillery observer, is killed in action in France.

July 12, 1968—The Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton gives its final report to the Board of Trustees, urging that the University “move as quickly as possible to implement coeducation…”

July 13, 1792—Students at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) debate this question: “Is not the emancipation of slaves, without preparing them by proper education to be good citizens[,] inconsistent with humanity & sound policy?” (Source)

July 15, 1864—In recognition of the changing needs of the student body, the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) approve a plan to establish a second course of study at Princeton within a special School of Science. This marks the first time that undergraduate education at Princeton will not require the same coursework of all students regardless of their future careers.

School_of_Science_Interior_1881_AC111_Box_MP81_No._3283

Interior of the School of Science, 1881. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP81, Image No. 3283.

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.

This Week in Princeton History for July 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 new mandatory fitness program begins, a professor’s research revises a 50-year-old theory, and more.

July 4, 1938—A record-setting crowd of 25,000 turns out to view a fireworks display in Palmer Stadium that includes exploding renderings of a man on a flying trapeze, Nassau Hall, George Washington, and the emblem of the American Legion.

July 5, 1764—The Pennsylvania Journal reports that popular evangelist George Whitefield is at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) while making his way from New York to Philadelphia.

July 6, 1942—A new mandatory fitness program designed to ensure all Princeton University students are physically prepared for war service begins.

Running_an_obstacle_course_ca_1941-45_AC112_Box_MP214_Image_5630

Students run an obstacle course at Princeton University ca. 1941-1945. Official United States Navy photograph, Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP214, Image No. 5630.

July 10, 1998—Science reports on Princeton University chemistry professor Warren Warren’s recent discovery of flawed assumptions in the 50-year-old theory underlying nuclear magnetic resonance spectoscopy (NMR), the technology used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. This work will lead to the use of new types of contrast in MRI scans and clearer images.

Warren_Warren_Pages from PrincetonBulletin_1998-11-23_v88_n010_0001

Warren Warren and research associate Sangdoo Ahn with NMR spectrometer, 1998. Photo from Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

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.