Dear Mr. Mudd: Is the Institute for Advanced Study Part of Princeton University?

By Spencer Shen ’16

Q: Dear Mr. Mudd,

I’ve heard that Albert Einstein taught at Princeton University. Is this true?

A: Einstein was actually appointed to the Institute of Advanced Study, or the IAS, which is a distinct organization, but its proximity to the university and their intertwined histories has led some to think they are one and the same, but they are not.

Einstein 70 birthday

Albert Einstein’s 70th birthday celebration at the Institute for Advanced Study. Left to right: H. P. Robertson, E. Wigner, H. Weyl, K. Goedel, I. I. Rabi, A. Einstein, R. Ladenburg, J. R. Oppenheimer, and G. M. Clemence. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box MP3, Image No. 153.

Q: Is the IAS a separate university then?

A: No, while the Institute adopts some characteristics of a university and a research institute, it differs in significant ways from both.

The IAS is unlike a university in many ways. Its academic membership at any one time numbers slightly over a hundred, but it has no students and no formal curriculum or scheduled courses of instruction. The IAS also has no commitment to represent all branches of learning. Unlike a research institute, the IAS supports many separate fields of study, maintains no laboratories, and welcomes temporary members. The intellectual development and growth of these members is one of its principal purposes. The IAS is devoted to the encouragement, support, and patronage of learning, attracting mostly postdoctoral scholars and scientists who desire further opportunities for research.

Mr. Louis Bamberger and his sister, Mrs. Felix Fuld, founded the Institute in 1930. The first director of the IAS was Abraham Flexner, who was succeeded in 1939 by Frank Aydelotte. The famous atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer served the longest tenure of any director so far, succeeding Aydelotte in 1947 and stepping down in 1966, shortly before his death. The current director is Dutch mathematical physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf, who took the position in 2012.

00000001 (4)

The Institute for Advanced Study, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD04, Image No. 8146.

While awaiting the construction of its first building, the IAS was originally housed in Princeton University’s Fine Hall, until the completion of Fuld Hall in 1939. Einstein, one of the original IAS faculty, had an office in Fine Hall starting in 1933 and was often seen walking on campus; this connects him in the minds of many with the university. However, the IAS soon developed its own institutional center on a square mile of beautiful wooded land at the southern edge of the town of Princeton, and Einstein spent the remainder of his life with an office there.

Q: Was Einstein a professor of physics at IAS?

A: Actually, Einstein belonged to the original School of Mathematics, whose members are pure mathematicians and mathematical physicists. There are currently four schools at the IAS: Historical Studies, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Social Science. The School of Historical Studies was established in 1949 by merging the School of Economics and Politics and the School of Humanistic Studies. It embraces the application of historical methods to a range of academic fields, including international relations, Greek and Roman civilization, and history of art. The School of Natural Sciences emerged in the 1950s, accepting theoretical physicists, astrophysicists, and biologists. Most recently, the School of Social Science was added in 1973 to encourage a multi-disciplinary approach to the analysis of contemporary societies and social change.

Related Sources:

Historical Subject Files Collection, 1746-2005

Institute for Advanced Study’s official website

Leitch, Alexander. A Princeton Companion. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978). Also available online.

This post was originally written by Rosemary Switzer (2003) as an FAQ page on our old website. It has been revised and expanded here by Spencer Shen ’16 as part of the launch of our new website.

Dear Mr. Mudd: Which School Is Older, Penn or Princeton?

By Spencer Shen ’16

Q: Dear Mr. Mudd,

I have a friend at Penn who claims that his school is older than Princeton. Is he right?

A: The answer to this question depends on what you mean by “older”, but institutional pride can result in tenuous claims for precedence. The University of Pennsylvania currently asserts that it is the fourth oldest college in the United States, placing Princeton in fifth place after Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, and Penn. Its basis for this claim is that it is an outgrowth of a “charity school” founded in 1740, but the school was never operational. Its building was used for religious services until 1749, when it was acquired by Benjamin Franklin and his associates for the purposes of establishing an “academy”, including an agreement to operate a charity school. “We have bought for the Academy,” Franklin wrote on February 13, 1750, “the house that was built for itinerant preaching, which stands on a large lot of ground capable of receiving more buildings.” The charter for Franklin’s Academy incorporated the text of the previous charity school’s trust verbatim. This adoption of the exact wording of the trust lies at the heart of Penn’s claim to precedence. However, it was not until 1751 that instruction actually commenced and not until 1753 that the “College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania” was chartered.


Click to enlarge graphic.

Penn celebrated its centennial in 1849, and its trustees did not formally accept 1740 as the year of the institution’s founding until 1899. By contrast, Princeton was chartered in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, began to offer instruction in 1747, and moved to Newark later that year. To the south, in Philadelphia, no such signs of higher educational life existed.

This post was originally written by John Weeren (2001) as an FAQ page on our old website. It has been revised and expanded here by Spencer Shen ’16 as part of the launch of our new website.

When Did the College of New Jersey Change to Princeton University?

Q: Dear Mr. Mudd,

When and why did the College of  New Jersey change its name to Princeton University?


Sesquicentennial Archway, Princeton, New Jersey, October 1896. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box LP19, Image No. 1387.

A: The College of New Jersey, founded in 1746, changed its name to Princeton University during the culmination of the institution’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1896. Historically, the University was often referred to as “Nassau,” “Nassau Hall,” “Princeton College,” or “Old North.” Continue reading

The Origins of the “Ivy League”

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

Where did the term “Ivy League” come from, and what schools are in it?

A. The eight universities belonging to the Ivy League are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. The idea dates back to October 1933 when Stanley Woodward, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune, used the phrase “ivy colleges” to describe these schools, which had common athletic programs. In 1936, the student newspapers of these colleges printed an editorial calling for the formal establishment of an athletic league for the “ivy colleges.”

Clip from NYHT

Clipping from New York Herald Tribune, October 16, 1933.

When initiated by administrators in the eight schools in September 1946, the “Ivy Group” was concerned about growing interest in college athletics as a form of national entertainment, especially football. The advent of televised college football games only intensified the colleges’ resolve to develop rules governing the sport. The Ivies were to be places where athletes were primarily students who participated in sports as a part of an overall educational program, not professionals who were recruited for their physical abilities nor students who were exploited for the material gain of their institutions. Continue reading

Dear Mr. Mudd: Who Are You?

By Spencer Shen ’16

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q: Who are you?

A: Actually, I’m Dr. Mudd. I was a practicing cardiologist before joining the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. Later, I became a professor, a member of the Board of Trustees, and the Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. I also served as a trustee of Pomona College, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, and the Carnegie Institute of Washington.


As you can see, I was keenly interested in promoting higher education, and I contributed more than $10 million to private colleges and universities during my lifetime. In my will, I established the $44 million Seeley G. Mudd Fund of Los Angeles to support educational excellence through grants for the construction of buildings for teaching, learning, and research.

The fund stipulated that an institution requesting funds would pay at least half the cost of a new building. For the Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University, the fund’s trustees made a grant of $1,125,000 to Princeton toward the $2,500,000 needed to build it. The balance was contributed by other donors, many of whom were alumni or their relatives.

Princeton was not the only university to apply for a grant from the Mudd Fund. You can go to Yale University, Duke University, Lawrence University (Appleton, WI), and Pomona College (Claremont, CA) and visit a Mudd Library there. There is a large medical complex named for me at the University of Southern California, and Howard University also has a Mudd Medical Building in its College of Medicine. You can also visit Mudd science buildings at the University of Denver, Colby College (Waterville, ME), and Lehigh University. There is even a Seeley G. Mudd Chapel at Whitworth College (Spokane, WA). These are only a few of the buildings financed by the Mudd Fund.

I am often asked whether I am a relative of Samuel A. Mudd, the Maryland doctor imprisoned for aiding John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. We are only very distantly related, as fifth cousins thrice removed. I am the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Henry “Harry” Mudd (1685-1736), and Samuel A. Mudd is the great-great-great-grandson of Henry Mudd’s older brother Thomas Mudd, Jr. (1679 or 1680-1739). Henry and Thomas Jr. were two of Thomas Mudd’s (1647-1697) children. He had three wives, but both Thomas Jr. and Henry were born to Sarah (Boarman) Matthews. Thomas Mudd immigrated to America from Austria circa 1665. He is believed to be the first Mudd to have arrived in America, though it is possible that he also came with two of his brothers.

Mudd tree

Dr. Mudd can no longer do his own writing, so we confess that we answer his mail on his behalf.This post was originally written by Nancy M. Shader (2003) and Christopher Shannon (2007) for our old website. It has been revised and illustrated here by Spencer Shen ’16 as part of our launch of our new website

Can Nathaniel FitzRandolph’s Descendants Attend Princeton University for Free?

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

I read that Nathaniel FitzRandolph’s descendants get free tuition at Princeton University. Is this true?

A. According to legend, an agreement between Nathaniel FitzRandolph and the College of New Jersey (as Princeton was then known) was made in 1753. In exchange for donating the land on which Nassau Hall now resides, the College agreed to pay tuition for all of his descendants to attend the institution. We have bad news for today’s FitzRandolphs, though: No such provision was incorporated into the deed of gift.


Inscription on the FitzRandolph Gateway. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 21.

Continue reading

African Americans and Princeton University

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q. What information do you have about African Americans and Princeton University?

A. Until the twentieth century, Princeton’s history has mostly been dominated by white men, typically from prosperous backgrounds. Though decidedly pro-Union during the Civil War, the campus had strong Southern influences, and its reputation as the “northernmost university town of the [segregated] south” was not undeserved. Yet that is not to say that Princeton’s story can only be told in terms of its loudest voices. Here, we give a brief overview of some of the ways African Americans fit into Princeton’s past.


Princeton University cheerleaders, 1995. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP9, Image No. 2484.

Continue reading

Eating Clubs and “The Street”

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q. What are “eating clubs”? Did F. Scott Fitzgerald make them up? What is “The Street”?

A. Princeton alumnus F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise (1920) gave the world a glimpse into the exclusive social enclaves known as the Princeton eating clubs through the eyes of fictional student Amory Blaine. According to Blaine, each club had a different character and social standing on the campus. “The upper-class clubs, concerning which he had pumped a reluctant graduate during the previous summer, excited his curiosity: Ivy, detached and breathlessly aristocratic; Cottage, an impressive melange of brilliant adventurers and well-dressed philanderers; Tiger Inn, broad-shouldered and athletic, vitalized by an honest elaboration of prep-school standards; Cap and Gown; flamboyant Colonial; Literary Quadrangle, and the dozen others, varying in age and positions.” While today’s clubs may now have different reputations, various stereotypes continue to surround them.


Couples at a Patton Club party, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box 154, Image No. 4237.

Continue reading

The Rittenhouse Orrery

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q: What is an orrery, and how did Princeton University come to own one? How was it damaged in the Battle of Princeton?


Rittenhouse Orrery on display in Firestone Library, 1954, Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP10.

A: An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. Orreries were regarded as essential teaching equipment for 18th-century lectures on “natural philosophy” (the physical sciences). Although invented ca. 1700 by George Graham, they have been called orreries because English instrument maker John Rowley named a copy he made of Graham’s machine “The Orrery” in honor of Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery.


Gillett G. Griffin, pen and ink drawing of David Rittenhouse designing his orrery, University Library Records (AC123), Box 302. Griffin was Princeton’s Curator of Graphic Arts 1952-1966.

David Rittenhouse, a Pennsylvania clockmaker, self-taught astronomer, and later the first director of the U.S. Mint, designed and built the College of New Jersey’s orrery (now Princeton University). In 1771, College President John Witherspoon purchased it from Rittenhouse for approximately £220 and installed it in Nassau Hall. The orrery instantly became the College’s most valuable asset. Rittenhouse’s original plans for the orrery included a central panel of four square feet showing the planets revolving around the Sun, and two smaller panels, one focused on Jupiter and Saturn, and the other on the Earth and the Moon, but all that remains today is the central panel, after damages during the military occupation of Nassau Hall in 1776-1777. A more complete example of a Rittenhouse Orrery has been preserved at the University of Pennsylvania Library.


Gillett G. Griffin, pen and ink drawing of David Rittenhouse showing his orrery to Princeton president John Witherspoon, University Library Records (AC123), Box 302.

Continue reading

Which came first? The Tiger or his stripes?

Dear Mr. Mudd,

What is the origin of the Princeton Tiger? Which came first the tiger or his stripes?


In 1992 the Office of Communications produced a photo essay concerning this very topic! The answer is that Princeton adopted the stripes long before the actual tiger!

Here is an excerpt from that essay:

On October 12, 1868, the faculty of the College of New Jersey  (later to be called Princeton University) passed a resolution permitting students “to adopt and wear as the college badge an orange colored Ribbon bearing upon it the word Princeton,” thus simultaneously keeping alive the college’s historical association with the Royal Dutch House of Orange while publicizing the unofficial college name, Princeton.

But even earlier—June of 1867—Princeton baseball players wore orange ribbons with black writing (’69 B.B.C.) at their match with Yale. At a Sarasota regatta in 1874, members of the freshman crew wore hatbands of black and orange silk ribbons. And for its 1876 football game with Yale, Princeton’s team proudly wore black jerseys with an orange P on the chest. 

During the celebration of Princeton’s sesquicentennial in 1896, the trustees not only changed the college’s name to Princeton University but also adopted orange and black as the official colors for academic gowns. The design reflects the tiger’s colors though not its many stripes; yet, undoubtedly a tiger’s heart beats beneath these conservative robes. For several years college cheers had contained the rallying cry of “tiger,” and orange and black were growing in use as the school colors Sportswriters of the day started to call the players “tigers.” The tiger and its colors began to appear in college songs, student publications, and even the name of an eating club. Then they showed up carved in stone, beginning most conspicuously with the large tigers placed atop the gateposts between Little and Blair halls in 1902. Very permanent tigers were cropping up on buildings all over campus.

By 1911 the tiger had become so firmly established as the University mascot that the Class of 1879 replaced the pair of lions that had flanked the doorway of Nassau Hall… with the regal tigers that still guard the entrance, acknowledging the tiger as a unifying decorative element on campus.

Lions at the entrance to Nassau Hall - Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings, Box MP81 Image 3306

Lions at the entrance to Nassau Hall – Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings, Box MP81 Image 3306

Tiger enthusiasm reached new heights in 1923 when the father of Albert Red Howard ’25 captured a young Bengal tiger while on an expedition to India and sent it to Princeton as a mascot. In the end, the combination of community anxiety and the cost of care led to the tiger’s ultimate transfer to a New Jersey zoo, but it was not the last live tiger to saunter through the Princeton campus.

Since the 1940s, a less-alarming live tiger has appeared regularly at Princeton football and basketball games or at least an anthropomorphized one. Dressed in forty pounds of faux fur, flowing tail, and padded paws, countless Princeton students have donned the tiger suit to entertain sports crowds and socialize at various events. In 1973 a few years after women were first admitted to the University, a tigress accompanied the well-known male mascot for the first time, distinguished by orange bows on her head and tail. Today, with the novelty of coeducation long past, there is only one tiger that entertains children, rallies school spirit, and gets chased by members of the opposing team’s school. In the end, one tiger is symbolically fitting: one tiger for one Princeton.

Tigers at Nassau Hall 1911 - AC111 Box MP71

Tigers at Nassau Hall 1911 – AC111 Box MP71

The University Archives has a plethora of images, documents and tiger references. In the Historical Subject Files, Box 393, one can find an article by the former Keeper of Princetoniana, Frederic Fox ’39.

Within this article Fox notes that the “Tiger did not come to Princeton easily.” Officially the tiger’s entrance came about due to members of the Class of 1879, though originally those classmates of Woodrow Wilson preferred lions. In 1889, their 10th reunion, they gave the University a pair of lions because it was the emblem of the royal house of Orange-Nassau.

These two lions flanked the entrance to Nassau Hall and were attributed to the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty. However, in the 1990s it was determined that they were produced by the now-defunct J. L. Mott Ironworks, a company that sold zinc statuary and bathroom fixtures through catalogs. The lions stood guard at Nassau Hall from 1889 to until they were removed in 1911. The current tigers by the artist A.P. Proctor were presented to the university by the Class of 1879 in 1911, with the lions moved to the steps of 1879 Hall, where they stood for about 60 years before moving into storage. They were re-discovered in 1998 in the basement of Palmer Hall, restored and placed back in public view (see final article in link). Today the they can be seen on the steps heading from Goheen Walk to Wilcox Hall.

PU museum lions

Here at the archives we have a copy of the Proctor tiger that guards our card catalog in the public area.

Tiger Miniature


We also have this furry unofficial Tiger friend to greet you at the front desk, courtesy of our former employee, Matt Reeder!

Furry Tiger

Related Sources

Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series, circa 1850-1996

Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series, circa 1850-1980

Historical Subject Files Collection, 1746-2005

Leitch, Alexander. A Princeton Companion, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978). Also available online.

Oversize Collection

Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection, c. 1968- c. 1991

Princeton Memorabilia Collection, c. 1782-2000

Princeton Music Collection, 1849-1982

Princetoniana Committee: Campus Traditions, History, and Lore sections on The Tiger.

Smagorinsky, Margaret. The Regalia of Princeton University: Pomp, Circumstance, and Accoutrements of Academia. (Princeton, New Jersey: Office of Communications and Publications, Princeton University, c. 1994).

Tiger Magazine

“Tigers prowl around the Princeton campus.” Web story and photo essay.

View more photos from the Historical Photograph Collection: Grounds and Buildings Series online here.

Princeton Alumni Weekly article, February 8th 2012, Why Tigers?

For more about tigers on campus see this article.

Excerpts from this post have been adapted from the FAQ written by Susan Hamson (2003)