This Week in Princeton History for May 20-26

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, married undergraduates face a housing shortage, two Charter Club officers are sentenced to prison, and more.

May 20, 1782—Princeton president Samuel Stanhope Smith signs a receipt for Peter Elmendorf, Class of 1782, for payment of the rent of his room for the year (40 shillings).

May 21, 1971—The Daily Princetonian reports on a housing shortage facing 96 married undergraduates.

May 24, 1864—Twenty-three-year-old Abram Zabriskie, Class of 1859, a colonel in the Union Army, dies from wounds originally sustained in the Battle of Drury’s Bluff on May 16.

Abram Zabriskie, Class of 1859, ca. 1860. Historical Photograph Collection, Alumni Photographs Series (AC058), Box MP10.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 13-19

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, two professors accuse a third of stealing from them, Princeton’s first Japanese Ph.D. writes about his experiences on campus, and more.

May 13, 1869—Despite worries that bad weather would prevent women from attending Class Day, the Nassau Literary Review reports that they filled the Chapel.

College of New Jersey (Princeton) Class of 1869 Class Day program. Note that school colors had not yet been chosen, so the program sported a red, white, and blue theme. Princeton University Class Records (AC130), Box 7.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Princetonian journalists travel 8 miles on foot in the rain for a story, a new game is popular on campus, and more.

May 7, 1937—Forced to abandon their car, four student journalists and a photographer from the Daily Princetonian travel eight miles on foot in the rain to find the ruins of the Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey in the wee hours of the morning.

The Hindenburg flies over Pyne Hall, 1936. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP18, Image No. 4523.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 29-May 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, 80% of students skip class in protest, the Princetonian interviews Phillis Schlafly, and more.

April 30, 1999—The Graduate School receives a record number of applications in its first year accepting online submissions.

May 1, 1970—Roughly 80% of students skip class as part of a massive general strike in protest of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia that takes over campus activities.

Many students attended a protest at Mather Sundial rather than attending classes on May 1, 1970. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP94, Image No. 1910.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Earth Day is observed for the first time, professors hold a rummage sale to raise money for the ambulance corps in France, and more.

April 22, 1970—Princeton Ecology Action leads the University’s first celebration of Earth Day.

Princeton Ecology Action’s 1970 Earth Day program. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 26.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, classes resume while war rages on,  Harvard raises money for Princeton, and more.

April 16, 1778—The Board of Trustees votes to attempt to resume classes, despite the war that interrupted them in the first place still being waged.

April 19, 1880—Sophomore Alfred M. Terriberry dies from drinking contaminated water. Several other students who drank from the same well are also ill. In response, Princeton officials promise to regularly check the purity of the wells supplying water to student lodging.

April 20, 2002—Three buses of Princeton residents, including undergraduate and graduate students from Princeton University, arrive in Washington, D.C. to join with at least 50,000 others in a rally to support the rights of Palestinians.

April 21, 1925—Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club gives the entire proceeds for its performance of “Laugh it Off” in Newark to their Princeton counterparts in support of the proposed Triangle Club Theater (later named McCarter Theater).

The star of “Laugh It Off” was Harvard’s H. E. Carillo ’26. Photo from Daily Princetonian Photographic Weekly.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Board of Trustees bans dueling, the contract for construction of the infirmary is awarded, and more.

April 8, 1917—James Barnes of the Class of 1891 outlines a proposal for privately financing an aviation school to Princeton University’s Committee on Military Instruction.

April 10, 1799—In response to a faculty report about a growing trend of students engaging in duels with one another, the Board of Trustees establishes a new policy. They declare any student caught dueling or attempting to duel be subject to immediate expulsion, promising that they “will never fail to match every instance of this crime with the highest expression of their detestation and abhorrence and to subject the perpetrators to that just and pointed infamy which their aggravated guilt demands.”

The expulsion of Alfred Powell of the Class of 1799, pictured above, seems to have been the primary inspiration for the Board of Trustees imposing the penalty of expulsion for dueling. Powell, unlike other students involved, was unapologetic about challenging his peers to duels. Image from Undergraduate Alumni Records 1748-1920 (AC104).

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This Week in Princeton History for April 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a campus documentary wins an Oscar, the Princeton Alumni Weekly appears for the first time, and more.

April 1, 1869—The Class of 1872 celebrates “All Fool’s Day” with a pasteboard band parade. In his senior year, participant Karl Case will later write of this experience, “Freshmen were funnier in those days than they are in these.”

April 3, 1974—A Search for Answers wins an Oscar for “Best Documentary Short.” The film examines education at Princeton University in an era of significant change.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 25-31

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian urges an alumni organization to hire editors with more “integrity”, a new program in electrical engineering is announced, and more.

March 25, 1965—Detectives find no explanation for the apparent suicide of lecturer Robert M. Hurt, 29, described by colleagues as “relaxed” and “cheerful” prior to his death.

Robert Hurt, ca. 1960s. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photographs Series (AC059), Box FAC51.

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Natural Philosophy in the 1830s

By Neha Anil Kumar ’21

Class planning as a Princeton undergraduate today can be difficult to say the least. With a huge variety of distribution requirements I have to take, alongside the major requirements of a STEM concentration, the life of an AB Physics student can get quite busy. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found lecture notes for a class on “Natural Philosophy” taught by Joseh Henry in 1830s that covered topics on modern day physics, mechanical engineering, epistemology, and philosophy along with material science, belonging to a time when students’ classes were definitively decided ahead of time because each entering class was small enough to take all of its courses together.

As I dived right in, not knowing the vast array of topics I was going to be reeled into, I was caught by surprise just across the first two lectures of the series. Contrary to what I expected of an introductory science class, that I considered closely related to physics, the first few lectures delve into much more epistemology than I expected; though the structure of introduction does make intuitional sense. The series begins with an explanation of what science really is and its categorization into the physical (modern day natural science) and the metaphysical (modern day philosophy). Interestingly, to introduce science as a mix of philosophy and quantitative and experimental analysis of phenomena, there does occur a strange attribution of nature’s laws to “tendency of the human mind” alongside a descriptions of various laws simply attributed to divinity. For example, the term “law of nature” is defined as the human “conception of the mode in which Divine wisdom operates in producing the changes of nature.” Moreover, the physical aspect of science is further split into Somatology, defined as “constitution and properties of bodies,” and Mechanics, which deals with the static and dynamic physical systems, creating a blurry line between the physical laws that govern movement of bodies and the hypotheses surrounding the constituents of matter and atoms.

Somatology, today considered a branch of anthropology, was then defined as the constituents and properties of bodies. (Click to enlarge.)

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