Debating Race at Princeton in the 1940s, Part I: Francis L. Broderick ’43

This is the first post in a two-part series examining Princeton University’s debates over admitting African Americans in the 1940s, which began in earnest partly due to the dedication of one undergraduate in the Class of 1943, Francis Lyons “Frank” Broderick.

By April C. Armstrong *14 and Dan Linke

Francis Lyons (“Frank”) Broderick, Class of 1943. Photo from 1943 Nassau Herald.

At first glance, Francis Lyons “Frank” Broderick ’43 looks like a typical mid-century Princetonian, not someone you’d expect to be at the center of a movement to upend his own institution’s admissions policies. His father was president of the East River Savings Bank in New York City, and the family lived on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side. Broderick attended Phillips Academy and had two older brothers who both attended Princeton as well. What may have set him somewhat apart from many of his classmates is that he listed himself as Catholic and an Independent Democrat in the Nassau Herald at a time when the majority of Princeton undergraduates were Protestant and Republican. He was also the first student to graduate from Princeton’s then-fledgling interdisciplinary Program in American Civilization, and wrote in the preface to his senior thesis that English professor Willard Thorp *26’s edited two-volume set, American Issues, inspired him to look more closely at race in the United States. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for November 11-17

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian suggests students start making their own beds on Sundays, a new highway cuts Nassau Street’s traffic in half, and more.

November 12, 1941—Noting that the staff is not being paid well and will not be given any raises while the University is operating at a loss, the Princetonian suggests students start making their own beds on Sundays so the janitors can begin to have one full day off per week.

Fritz (no last name recorded), a janitor in Laughlin Hall, 1931. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box 1. According to mid-20th century policies, janitors worked seven days per week and were required to turn out the lights in dormitories every night and make the beds every morning. They had a standard work week of 57 hours. In the 1930s, students began debating the fairness of making their own beds. Janitors unionized in 1942, demanding higher pay and fewer hours, including one full day off per week.

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Faculty Wives and the Push for Coeducation at Princeton University

Coeducation brought female students to Princeton, but it didn’t bring the first women. There have always been women connected with the institution. Nonetheless, coeducation did change the lives of the women who were already here. Esther Edwards Burr, Sarah Pierpont Edwards, and Isabella McCosh, wives of three Princeton presidents from earlier centuries, have all received historians’ attention as individuals, but the ways in which faculty wives as a group shaped and reshaped Princeton has not been fully explored. As Princeton celebrates its 50th anniversary year of undergraduate coeducation, it is worth looking back at some of the women who pushed hardest to end male-only hegemony: the ones who married the men who taught on Princeton’s campus.

Princeton held its centennial Commencement in 1847. To celebrate, women in town–probably faculty wives–hosted a reception. Samuel Reeves of the Class of 1837 described it in the New York Observer (July 3, 1847): “The accomplished ladies of the Faculty gave a Levee in the evening…The ladies received the throng of invited guests with elegance and grace, while the entertainment of the evening was of unusual richness, displaying the taste and refinement of those under whose direction this splendid affair was arranged and conducted.” (Menu for reception given in honor of the centennial Commencement of the College of New Jersey (Princeton), June 30, 1847. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 307, Folder 11.)

It can be hard to uncover many of their names even now, as records are often found filed among their husbands’ papers in the University Archives or otherwise obscured by their scattered presence across diverse collections. The women who lived in town because of their husbands’ teaching careers at Princeton University did not always find the institution itself particularly welcoming to them, but they formed their own communities and found ways to pursue their own passions despite an environment they often described as outright hostile. Ultimately, Princeton University’s first regularly enrolled female student came from their ranks. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for November 4-10

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, two members of the Class of 1998 write about how avoiding pork can ease religious division, the student health plan is covering only some gynecological services, and more.

November 5, 1834—The original twelve members of the Class of 1838 assemble for their first recitations in Greek in the basement of Nassau Hall. By the end of the academic year, there will be 24 members of the class.

November 7, 1997—Roben Farzad ’98 and Adeel Qalbani ’98 team up in a tongue-in-cheek editorial calling for pork-free meals at Charter Club, “because pork, or rather our mutual disregard for the nefarious meat, is the link that binds us. … Jews and Muslims stand on the brink of something that promises a new dawn of understanding and coexistence, shattering old dogmas and yaying the many nay-sayers. It’s powerful. It’s pungent. It’s parasite-laden. It’s pork. And we’re living testaments to its unprecedented potential to solve an age-old conflict.”

November 8, 1877—Henry Ward Beecher’s visit to Princeton stirs controversy.

November 10, 1970—Gynecological services are now available free of charge to Princeton students, but the student health plan still does not cover any prescriptions gynecologists might write.

Advertisement for Ovulen, a birth control pill, 1968, found in a promotional booklet for the drug distributed by Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area (which served Princeton University students). Click to enlarge. Marsha Rosenthal Course Materials and Student Activism Materials (AC409), Box 2.

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.

Princeton Alumni in the Service of the Refugee Cause: Henry R. Labouisse’s UNRWA Legacy

By Diana Dayoub ’21

UNRWA’s unpopularity with the people it works for, and the governments it works with, is in direct contrast to the popularity of the man from Wilton, Connecticut who heads it. 

Princeton Alumni Weekly, February 10, 1956

With the number of displaced persons reaching a record high since the 1940s and with the consequent expansion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) activities, it seems timely to get some historical perspective on the UN refugee aid and relief legacy. Henry R. Labouisse (Class of 1926), a distinguished international public servant, stands out for his UN service and the significance of his agency’s relief and rehabilitation services as seen in the context of Near Eastern politics at the time. The Henry R. Labouisse Papers (MC199) document Labouisse’s work as director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)–or commonly referred to as “the Agency” in the region–from 1954-1958. 

Article in Princeton Alumni Weekly, February 10, 1956.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 28-November 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, sophomores organize a battle against freshmen for canes for the first time, the ACLU urges Princetonians to support the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more.

October 28, 1983—Princeton’s Director of the Center for Visitor and Conference Services, Bill O’Brien, receives a call from his section chief in the Army Reserves letting him know he will be on active duty soon. He will spend three weeks in Grenada.

The United States invaded Grenada on October 25, 1983 after a military coup removed the island’s leadership. The U.S. invasion drew international condemnation, but most Americans supported it. Bill O’Brien’s duties included the distribution of aid to civilians and helping to restore their tourism industry. O’Brien thought it was important that their flag be restored, so he joined with others to canvas the island for the original flag to use as a model to construct others. In the photo above, O’Brien showed the flag to Jacquelyn Kneen, a writer for the Princeton Weekly Bulletin. Photo by Robert Matthews, 1983, Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 225.

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Whatever Happened to “The Vigil”?

By Iliyah Coles ’22

I have been looking for information about The Vigil, a minority newspaper that the University published in the late twentieth century. As a black student at a predominantly-white institution, I wanted to see what the newspaper would be about and how effectively it incorporated voices not usually heard. After researching and reading several of its later publications, I was offended by many things that I found. Expression within the paper seemed to be limited–confined to what was deemed acceptable during the time period. I was ultimately disappointed with my discoveries, but I still wanted to share them with others so that readers could become more aware of the racial tensions that persist even in the most unlikely of places. 

The Vigil, written for and mostly by minorities, was first published in 1980. The Third World Center (now known as the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality + Cultural Understanding) supported the paper. According to the Daily PrincetonianThe Vigil had been discontinued several times over the span of six years, mostly due to financial issues and infrequent publication. Though I was not able to determine why the newspaper was discontinued the last time (seemingly in 1999), there are some red flags, mostly in the articles written on black people, that might have had something to do with its failure to achieve broader support.  

Cover of The Vigil, February 1995. Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding Records (AC364), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a guest speaker urges his audience to hold men and women to the same moral standards, the Princetonian urges smokers not to inhale, and more.

October 21, 1976—Randall Kennedy ’77, one of six students who made presentations on minority life to the Board of Trustees, says of the experience that Bill Bowen was the only encouragement he found. “He was the only hopeful glimmer in the whole thing. He seemed to be one of the few people listening.”

October 23, 1913—Clifford G. Roe, author of Horrors of the White Slave Trade, speaks in Alexander Hall on the problem of human trafficking in Chicago, urging students hold both men and women to the same moral standards.

October 24, 1879—The Princetonian warns students who must smoke to at least avoid inhaling. “College is the place to lay foundations for steady nerves, sound limbs, and strong lungs, as well as active brains, but this cannot be done by outraging every law of nature and common sense.”

Princeton Class of 1878 corn cob pipes. Memorabilia Collection (AC053), Box A30. Photo by April C. Armstrong. 

October 26, 1984—Charles Huber ’51 pens an editorial urging a return to Princeton’s white Protestant past, provoking strong opposition from faculty, students, administrators, alumni, those outside the Princeton community, and Huber’s own son. Huber’s editorial reads, in part, “The current administration doesn’t just hate our guts—it hates our genes. … If a balance is struck at 15 per cent Jews and 3 per cent minorities, justice will have been served.”

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.

On Display: The Public Lives of 20th-Century American Women

By April C. Armstrong and Amanda Ferrara, exhibition curators

Men, especially political leaders, are usually assessed on their professional records. Women, no matter how professional they may be, are often judged on their personal lives.

–Brenda Feigan Fasteau and Bonnie Lobel, New York Magazine, December 20, 1971

Visitors to Mudd Library will notice a new exhibition in our Weiss Lounge drawn from the holdings of our Public Policy Papers, “On Display: The Public Lives of 20th-Century American Women.” As the exhibition title’s double meaning suggests, the lines between the private and public lives of women have often blurred, with personal medical decisions becoming a matter of public debate, living rooms transforming into sites of political activism, and marriage pulling women into unpaid public service. 

Lillian Markowski, age 20, an engine cleaner for the Long Island Railroad. Markowski took over her fiance’s job when he joined the Army. Her brother was also a soldier. Photo by Roy Pitney, February 2, 1943, Ivy Ledbetter Lee Papers (MC085), Box 103, Folder 4.

On May 21, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, stating, “The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” It took more than a year for the needed 36 states to ratify it, with Tennessee’s vote on August 18, 1920 officially giving women the constitutional right to vote in America. The 2019-2020 academic year thus marks the centennial of the culmination of one major aspect of women’s activism in the United States. As the exhibition acknowledges, the right to vote was still not effectively available to many American women, especially women of color and the poor. The fight for many other civil rights was–and still is– ongoing.

Editorial cartoon depicting suffragettes (geese) waking up Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan, who are sleeping in front of the Senate, 1914. This cartoon references the Women’s March of 1913. Political Cartoon Collection (MC180), Box 10.

The Public Policy papers may not appear at first glance to have a great deal related to women, in part because the priorities of earlier generations did not lead them to intentionally collect this sort of material. This is not a problem exclusive to Princeton, but a challenge for our colleagues across our profession. The Society of American Archivists has acknowledged and reiterated that these archival silences have limited our understanding of women’s history (see, for example, Tanya Zanish-Belcher and Anke Voss’s Perspectives on Women’s Archives (2013)).

Margaret Snyder and Daria Tesha tour mines in Zambia, ca. 1973. Snyder was actively involved in women’s economic and development issues in various regions of the world for more than three decades. Among her various roles, she was the Founding Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Margaret Snyder Papers, Box 41.

We have curated this exhibition in part to demonstrate that our predecessors here at Princeton, despite biases against seeing women’s contributions to American public life as worthy of documenting or preserving, nonetheless inadvertently amassed a wealth of material for those seeking to learn about 20th-century American women. Further, it is important to us to show how women have always been involved in public policy, even before they might have been understood to be engaged in this work by their contemporaries. Thus, this exhibition draws both on named collections of prominent women’s papers, such as the Margaret Snyder Papers and the Anne Martindell Papers, and on collections where researchers might not expect to find relevant material, such as the George S. McGovern Papers and the John Doar Papers. Material also appears in the exhibition from institutional records like the American Civil Liberties Union Records and the Association on American Indian Affairs Records

Maps showing family planning services available to women in Queens, New York, 1961 and 1966. (Click to enlarge.) Norman Ryder Papers (MC250), Box 8.

It is our hope that by curating this material, we might inspire more creative approaches to the Public Policy papers for students, faculty, and visiting researchers using our library. As our collecting policies have changed to prioritize underrepresented demographics, we expect continued enrichment in our holdings related to those outside Princeton’s historical white male paradigm.

Note: The majority of the material on display in this exhibition are facsimiles, including all material mounted on the walls. Most of the material on the bottom of the cases are originals. Originals of the facsimiles can be viewed within their collections in our reading room. Access to Mudd Library is open to all, regardless of institutional affiliation. Please contact us for more information.

For further reading:

Armstrong, April C. “‘Make This World Safe for the Babies’: The Liberty Loan Committee’s Appeal to American Women.”

Armstrong, April C. “World War II ‘Trainwomen’ of the Long Island Railroad.”

This Week in Princeton History for October 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Native Americans speak out about Columbus Day, a dispute over voter registration sparks a long legal battle, and more.

October 14, 1971—Victor Masayesva ’74 of Americans Before Columbus writes to the Daily Princetonian regarding the destruction of a poster that “designated Columbus Day a day of mourning… We American Indian students at Princeton felt it absolutely necessary to show that this national holiday stinks of, reeks with racism!”

Princeton’s indigenous students have often faced isolation on campus, including Howard Edwards Gansworth of the Class of 1901, but active recruitment among native populations in the 1970s, particularly from reservations, brought numbers significant enough to form a community. This decade was the heyday of Native American representation on campus, during which they began take control of their own narrative at Princeton. Page from “Princeton: Our Perspective” showing Native American students ca. 1970s. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 294, Folder 7.

October 16, 1940—Students and faculty age 21-35 register for the first peacetime draft in American history.

October 18, 1927—Local officials’ refusal to register Princeton students to vote on the basis that their time away during the summer has rendered them ineligible sparks a protracted legal battle.

October 20, 1988—The Daily Princetonian explains the multiple advertisements for different programs to address eating disorders in their issue today as a response to student pressure for more support in the face of rising rates of illnesses related to food, body image, and weight.

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.