This Week in Princeton History for January 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a member of the Class of 1801 walks 20 miles round trip to attend a memorial for George Washington, a class is lit with electric lamps, and more.

January, 14, 1800—John Johnston, Class of 1801, walks with other Princeton students to Trenton to hear Samuel Smith’s oration on the life of George Washington. Attendance is so large that many, including the students, have no seats and stand for the three-hour ceremony that includes Smith’s address. “To walk ten miles going and ten miles returning, and to stand on our feet nearly three hours, was not a small day’s labor. It will be believed, that when we reached the college we were excessively fatigued and hungry, for we had no opportunity to get anything to eat during the day.”

Samuel Stanhope Smith’s address at the Trenton memorial for George Washington, January 14, 1800. Office of the President Records (AC117), Box 253.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 7-13

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian criticizes the grading system, the Texas governor gives an on-campus club the designation “Texas Embassy in New Jersey,” and more.

January 9, 1975—Princeton students are featured in the NBC documentary special The Changing Role of Women and Men. Architecture majors Lisa F. Lee ’76 and Robert C. Vuyosevich ’76 talk about how academic competition led to the breakup of their romance, which NBC says is one of the consequences of women entering fields previously dominated by men. Lee says she had other ideas, but they “were cut from the show.”

January 10, 1906—James Robb Church (Class of 1888) is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for deeds of valor in the Spanish American War.

January 11, 1877—The Princetonian editorializes that the grading system needs to change, because ranking students against one another and capping every class average at 85 unfairly penalizes good students. “A class of blockheads would make as good a showing as a class of admirable Crichtons.”

Sample page from the Registrar’s grade book, 1877. Note what appears to be the class ranking in red. Office of the Registrar Records (AC116), Box 15.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 31-January 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the construction of Lake Carnegie begins, the faculty approve a program in Women’s Studies, and more.

January 2, 1905—Work begins clearing 170 acres of heavily wooded land for the construction of Lake Carnegie.

Laborers and horses who cleared land for the construction of Lake Carnegie, ca. 1905. Historical Photograph Collection, Lake Carnegie Construction Photographs Series (AC065), Box 11.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 24-30

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Princeton pays its first phone bill, an undergraduate writes to his cousin to urge him to join him at school, and more.

December 24, 1895—The College of New Jersey pays its very first telephone bill ($40.00 for the year).

December 25, 1818—William Krebs writes to his cousin from Nassau Hall and encloses Princeton’s current catalogue. “This will doubtless prove amusing to you. … Do not abandon the idea of joining College next spring…”

Early catalogues for the College of New Jersey (Princeton) were in Latin, like this one William Krebs sent to his cousin on December 25, 1818. Catalogus Collegii Neo-Caesariensis is translated as Catalogue of the College of New Jersey.

December 26, 1906—News that Trenton vaudeville actress Edna Mae Chandler has secretly married a Princeton student in a 2:00AM ceremony performed by a local Justice of the Peace makes headlines throughout the region, but it will later come out that contrary to Chandler’s understanding, Harry F. Bibbins is not a 22-year-old Princeton senior and the son of a millionaire but rather a 17-year-old Trenton hotel clerk. They will divorce in 1913.

December 27, 1765—The St. John’s Grand Lodge of Massachusetts grants a petition from residents of Princeton, including Richard Stockton, to establish a Masonic Lodge.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a shipment of coal mitigates a fuel shortage, the Triangle Club performs for Eleanor Roosevelt, and more.

December 17, 1917—A new shipment of coal just after the last bit available ran out means there will be enough fuel on hand to last the winter, bringing relief to concerned Princetonians. Measures will still need to be taken to preserve it.

Clipping from the Daily Princetonian, December 19, 1917.

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The Princeton Pullman’s “Filipino Boys”

We’ve previously told you about the Princeton Pullman, a specially-designed railroad car that took faculty and students across North America in the 1920s and 1930s to collect geological specimens and fossils. Today, we’d like to highlight one aspect of these journeys: the Filipino staff who attended to the practical needs of the travelers, one of whom had an impact far exceeding his apparent official role as head chef.

Staff in front of the Princeton Pullman, 1926. Department of Geosciences Records (AC139), Box 39.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 10-16

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate receives his second Nobel Prize, a Native American member of the Class of 1762 complains of “too much confinement” in Nassau Hall, and more.

December 10, 1972—John Bardeen *36 accepts his second Nobel Prize in physics and becomes the only two-time laureate in the same field.

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To honor of the accomplishments of John Bardeen *36, Princeton University chose him as the first recipient of the James Madison medal in 1973. Note that the graduation year on the medallion is incorrect. Bardeen earned his Ph.D. in 1936, not 1939. Princeton University Memorabilia Collection (AC053), Box E-1. Photos by April C. Armstrong.
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This Week in Princeton History for December 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, construction of the Halstead Observatory is underway, Gloria Steinem urges Princetonians to do something outrageous daily, and more.

December 3, 1867—The New York Tribune reports that Princeton’s Halsted Observatory is almost ready to have the telescope mounted. When mounted, it will be the largest telescope in the United States.

Halstead Observatory, ca. 1860s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8669.

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Ivy Hall Library and Higher Education for Princeton Women in the 1870s

As Princeton University celebrates 50 years of undergraduate women, it is worth looking back a bit farther to examine how women pursued higher education in town prior to the mid-twentieth century. A variety of options have been available to Princeton’s women over the century that preceded the first female undergraduate admission in 1969. Some of the earliest records we have found relate to another largely forgotten chapter in Princeton’s history: its law school.

After the College of New Jersey (as the institution was known until assuming the name Princeton University in 1896) established a law school in 1846, benefactor Judge Richard Stockton Field built a brownstone building for its use, but the study of law at Princeton was short-lived. The law school dissolved in 1855, and the building that had housed it became a railroad and canal office.

Ivy Hall, ca. 1870s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP52, Image No. 1837.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 26-December 2

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, graduates react to the possible admission of female undergraduates, a dean’s comments in a local newspaper arouse concern, and more.

November 26, 1968—The Princeton Alumni Weekly prints several letters responding to the Patterson Report, which has concluded that Princeton would benefit from admitting female undergraduates. Logan McKee ’48 writes, “Mixing, ‘integrating’ and polluting seem to be the trend of the times, so it is natural that the mixers would want to homogenize Princeton. Of course this is just the next natural step in the pollution process. Long ago they removed the Presbyterian religious bias, the prep-school, the fraternity and the white race preference, and the School’s independence from government grants—so why not remove its last distinction, that of being a men’s college? Then Princeton can be as ‘democratic’ and just as friendly, folksy and mediocre as any outstate A. & M. institution.”

November 28, 1989—The Dean of the Graduate School’s comments in the Trenton Times alarm graduate students, including his assertion that “I think that a graduate student ought to be here to study 120 percent. I worry very, very much that a graduate student has so much time available to worry about a social life.”

Editorial cartoon from the Daily Princetonian. This cartoon refers to later claims the dean made that graduate students should not be offered housing after their second year of study.

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