An American University: An Audio Portrait of Princeton in 1946

By: Abbie Minard ’20

Abbie Minard ’20 is a history concentrator with a primary interest in early American history. On campus, she is a research associate at the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, music director and a DJ at WPRB, artistic director of the TapCats (tap dancing group), and a member of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra. She is also a poet with a love for dada and experimental performance.

As a part the exhibition, Learning to Fight and Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War, we digitized a half hour BBC radio broadcast from 1946 that featured Princeton University for an audio portrait of university life in the United States.  The program, titled “An American University,” was one half of a radio exchange program with Oxford on the Mutual Broadcasting System.

The audio included in the segment was recorded in November and December as Princeton celebrated its bicentennial anniversary.  It features a wide array of Princeton voices, covering university history, academics, residential, and social life, with spotlights on the football team and the glee club, whose musical interludes are interspersed throughout the program.

We selected photographs from our collections to accompany the audio for this video.

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A Campus Divided: The Iraq Wars and Princeton University

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more. We will be hosting a panel discussion on February 28, 2018 at 1:00PM featuring Robert Rivers ’53, Bob Durkee ’69, and the Princeton University ROTC’s Lt. Col. Kevin McKiernan to discuss the impact of war on Princeton from the World War II era to the present. This event is free and open to the public.

We’ve also recently added a small case with materials about America’s two wars with Iraq in 1991 and 2003-present in our lobby which will be on display along with the rest of the exhibition through June 2018.

As the Persian Gulf Crisis worsened toward the end of 1990, the opinions expressed on Princeton’s campus revealed stark contrasts between those in favor of war and those opposed to it. Teach Peace, a student-faculty organization formed in late November 1990 to promote dialogue on the Gulf Crisis, organized a variety of protest activities, including peace vigils, public demonstrations, teach-ins, and guest lectures. Many of the professors who lectured at teach-ins had been active in anti-war protests during the Vietnam War. Continue reading

2017-2018 Exhibition: Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more.

By Sara Logue

Since its founding, Princeton University has been shaped by every major war, whether it took place on American soil or halfway around the world. Most colleges and universities in the United States have had to address their role during wartime. Traditional college students are at the prime age of enlistment, and when war loomed, academic institutions looked for the best ways to continue to educate students while also preparing them for combat. Starting as early as the French and Indian War and continuing through the American involvement in Vietnam, the Princeton community has borne the demands of conflict. Through the Princeton University Archives and the collections of the Public Policy Papers, this exhibition reviews how education and the pursuit of knowledge evolved over the span of 200 years through the lens of a series of wars.

Adjustments were made at Princeton during each period of US involvement in war. The administration worked to keep the college afloat during lean times and answered the government’s calls for wartime assistance. Faculty contributed to military training and defense research, while student involvement came in the form of mobilization as well as protest. Enrollment fluctuated as students became soldiers, and the curriculum evolved to accommodate the need to produce men with military training.

During the American Revolution, war came to the campus, as Nassau Hall, which housed students, faculty and classrooms, was alternately occupied by both British and American troops and was a key site for the Battle of Princeton. The college grew over the next century to include a large number of southern students, at times reaching nearly 60% of total enrollment. However, with the onset of the Civil War, practically all southern students returned home to fight against those who recently had been their classmates and friends. Mobilization came to the college unofficially with the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century and officially with the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917. During World War II, Princeton came to the forefront of science and defense research with its contributions to the development of the atomic bomb.

 

Grass-roots book programs were created as a way to collect and donate reading material to soldiers, and had long been part of war efforts, dating back to the Civil War. Begun as a way to boost morale, and not limited to college students, book programs gave soldiers tools to educate themselves while at war. Princeton’s own program during World War II, Seventy Books for Students in the Armed Forces, was an opportunity for soldiers to acquire three books from a list of seventy. They included titles in the list that were “good reading for any man” and published compact and inexpensive editions. The Council on Books in Wartime, founded in 1942 and operating through the remainder of World War II, was a national organization which formalized the creation and distribution of similar reading material to send to soldiers stationed throughout the world.

World War II and its aftermath brought many changes to the Princeton campus. The GI Bill led to an expansion in enrollment as well as a change in the “typical” Princeton student. A bit older, these men brought wives and children to campus, which the University struggled to accommodate. By the early 1950s, Princeton had more or less returned to its pre-war state, with single, young men populating the campus.

However, student life changed with the culture of the 1960s, and as more minorities and women were admitted. At the same time the United States escalated the Vietnam conflict. Student reaction to this war was mixed, with more circumspection and less sense of moral obligation to the cause than with previous conflicts. Protests erupted on college campuses across the country, and it was no different here at Princeton. The administration opened the campus to public discourse and the faculty convened a Council on Vietnam. Whether in support or opposition, the centuries-long tradition of Princeton’s active involvement in the United States’ wartime activities continued.

Archives usually gather material decades after they are created, so this exhibition ends in the early 1970s. However, Princeton’s students, faculty and administration have continued to be involved in war through the present day. We hope that you will return to explore our collections to further your own knowledge of our nation’s complicated history of education in times of war.

Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War

A new exhibition is opening at Mudd Library on November 9 at 4:30PM. “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War” examines higher education in wartime at Princeton and beyond from the French and Indian War to the Vietnam War.

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A gallery of behind-the-scenes photos of our work on the new exhibition.

Since its founding, Princeton University has been shaped by every major war, whether it took place on American soil or halfway around the world. Most colleges and universities in the United States have had to address their role during wartime. Traditional college students are at the prime age of enlistment, and when war loomed, academic institutions looked for the best ways to continue to educate students while also preparing them for combat. The Princeton community has borne the demands of conflict from the colonial period forward. Through the Princeton University Archives and the collections of the Public Policy Papers, this exhibition reviews how education and the pursuit of knowledge evolved over the span of 200 years through the lens of a series of wars.

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A gallery of selected exhibition highlights.

This exhibition will be on display through Reunions 2018.

Lobby Exhibit Highlights Some of Princeton’s Connections to Slavery

A small exhibit currently on display in the lobby of Mudd Library contains archival material highlighting Princeton’s connections to slavery. The exhibit includes an offer of financial support on the condition that students be admitted “irrespective of Color” rejected by the Board of Trustees in 1835 and an 1861 note in a student’s autograph book signed “Though your deadly foe in public I am in private life your friend,” among other items.

Office of the President Records (AC117), Box 23, Folder 5.

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Tracing Princeton’s Connections to Slavery through Intentional Serendipity

The Princeton and Slavery Symposium, a presentation of several years of “scholarly investigation of Princeton University’s historical engagement with the institution of slavery,” is scheduled for November 17-18, 2017. As we lead up to that date, we will be blogging about Mudd’s involvement in this larger project.

Last November, the University of Houston-Downtown Archives wrote about their staff’s annoyance at headlines about items “Found Buried in the Archives!” Articles like these often rub staff in archives the wrong way, because they render their ongoing efforts (necessary for scholars to uncover such material) invisible. Working day-to-day in the archives of a university, we often know a lot more about our institutions than we’re ever able to share in writing, leaving it to the researchers who visit us to record most of the stories that the materials we show them reveal. It is sometimes our jobs to tell the stories of our schools, but not always; even when it is, there will never be enough time for us to write them all down. My multi-page list of blogs-in-progress attests to this.

Even so, there are still discoveries made on a daily basis, “buried” materials or not. Not everything is easily found. My work at Mudd often highlights our collections from new angles and/or reveals forgotten stories about Princeton’s past. In order to do this, I keep records of what I discover in the course of my workday. Themes sometimes emerge and eventually become social media posts, blogs, or exhibit fodder as I transform the messy notes in my legal pads and Word documents and the connections in my head into more coherent pieces for public consumption. I also recruit my student assistants to help in this endeavor. Just as I do, they sometimes intentionally set out to tell a specific story, but we also write the stories that find us rather than vice versa. Our discoveries about Princeton’s connections to slavery reflect this kind of intentional serendipity (not quite the oxymoron it seems). The work of Mudd’s Public Services is both visible and invisible to the patrons who use our library. In today’s blog, I will reveal some of the invisible work that we do to support Princeton’s educational mission.

The first such item I want to highlight is one I uncovered in the course of collecting items for the weekly blog feature, “This Week in Princeton History.” The notice of a slave sale held on the Princeton campus in 1766 was worth including in this weekly roundup of events in mid-August 2015 in part because I had talked with students in the “Princeton and Slavery” course about their research and knew it was of interest to the public we serve. The professor for the course, Martha A. Sandweiss, referred to the slave sale in an article about her class that appeared in The Nation a few months later.

Clip from the Philadelphia Journal, August 14, 1766.

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“A Haven for Radicalism, Intolerance, and Lesbianism”: The Ongoing Struggle for an LGBTQ+-Inclusive Princeton

Mudd Library’s University Administrative Fellow for the fall 2016-2017 semester curated an online HistoryPin exhibit to document the history of minority sexualities at Princeton University. In this post, she provides broader context for the materials she chose to highlight.

By Ariana Natalie Myers GS

For much of its history, Princeton University students who experienced attraction toward their own gender kept it secret. Some alumni were later outed as homosexuals, such as Alan Turing ’38 (GS), famed World War II cryptographer who was the victim of brutal punishment by the British government once his sexuality was uncovered. Kirk LeMoyne Lem” Billings ’39, onetime roommate of President John F. Kennedy at Princeton and close associate of the Kennedy family, was outed by friends after his death in 1981.

Princeton University opened its doors to female undergraduates in 1969, and the first 130 women moved in for the fall semester. The decision-making process and its aftermath was fraught with controversy, with concerns ranging from the presumed “unproductivity” of female alumni to the costs of campus expansion to the anticipated loss of Princeton’s “unique charisma” and “manly dedication.” Many of those opposed to coeducation coalesced into the organization Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP). Proponents of coeducation argued that the proximity of women would decrease homosexuality. This latter position was tacitly supported by Dr. Louis E. Reik ‘33, University Director of Mental Health, and his associate Dr. Willard Dalrymple, Director of University Health Services, in an interview with the Daily Princetonian in 1966 in which Reik stated that a “tendency which was latent before might well be strengthened here” (on a single-gender campus). In a subsequent interview with Dr. Reik in 1969, he contradicted his prior statements and argued that coeducation would not have a notable effect on homosexuality, since he considered that it developed before the age students typically attended college.

Photo from Daily Princetonian.

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New Year’s Greetings

By Xinxian Cynthia Zheng GS

In the first post in this two-part series about a file of 72 “Chinese New Year cards” I found in the Princeton University Library Records (AC 123), I wrote about the Christmas and New Year’s greetings sent by sent by missionaries and non-profit organizations to Dr. Nancy Lee Swann (1881–1966), one of the first female scholars of Chinese history who served as the curator of Princeton’s East Asian Library between 1931 and 1948. In this post, I will examine how scholars who sent cards to Swann appealed to shared literacy in Chinese historical anecdotes between senders and recipients to strengthen ties among colleagues.

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Celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day in the “Chinese” Way

By Xinxian Cynthia Zheng GS

Recently, I found a file of 72 “Chinese New Year cards” in the Princeton University Library Records (AC 123). Looking through them, I saw that they were a syncretic fusion of Chinese and Western elements, rather than the kind of Chinese New Year cards I usually receive from friends now. Dated between 1935 and 1942, many of these “Chinese” cards came from non-Chinese Westerners—some were book collectors and art connoisseurs, while others were individuals with non-profit organizations. They were sent to Dr. Nancy Lee Swann (1881–1966), one of the first female scholars of Chinese history who served as the curator of what became Princeton’s East Asian Library between 1931 and 1948.

Intriguingly, the existence of these “Chinese” cards suggests Chinese elements became part of the consumption culture of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day for some in the Americas. Beginning in the nineteenth century, people increasingly romanticized the two religious festivals and made them the rites of selling and buying, as Leigh Schmidt has detailed in Consumer Rites. Just as individual tastes varied in Christmas shopping, these “Chinese” cards also show significant diversity. They came in various sizes, ranging from a greeting on letter size paper to a small card of 5 × 2.75 inches. The cards employed metaphors from Chinese arts and classics in the personalized envelopes, cover illustrations, and greeting messages. Depending on the social context and the sender’s relationship with the recipient, individual authors used elements of Chinese culture as tools to socialize with colleagues, pay respect to friends, convey messages of religious teaching, send off encouragement and good wishes, and reinforce the effect of fundraising. This blog post is the first in a two-part series about these cards. Here, the focus is on cards blending Eastern and Western themes in cards from religious groups and non-profit organizations. Next month, I will highlight the imagery Chinese scholars used in corresponding with Princeton’s librarian.

Because many senders were corresponding overseas from China, their envelopes often presented combinations of Chinese and English, which may appear exotic to our audience today. As the envelope below shows on the front, the staff of the National Committee of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Shanghai used a five-sent stamp issued by the Chinese Post Office in memory of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China. On the back of the envelope, the sender rendered the return address in Shanghai in both Chinese and English.

Because many senders were corresponding overseas from China, their envelopes often presented combinations of Chinese and English. As the envelope above shows on the front, the staff of the National Committee of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Shanghai used a five-sent stamp issued by the Chinese Post Office in memory of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China. On the back of the envelope, the sender rendered the return address in Shanghai in both Chinese and English.

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A Lotta Kicks: 125 Years of the Triangle Club

By Jessica Serrao

Join us at the Mudd Library as we celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Princeton University’s Triangle Club with an exhibit featuring archival materials from the Triangle Club Records housed in the University Archives. The exhibit walks you through some highlights from the past century and a quarter bringing to light the extensive history of this Princeton standard. Playbills, photographs, sheet music, memorabilia, travel plans, costume sketches, and, of course, punny titles, can all be found in this exhibit, and to a much greater degree in the Triangle Club Records.

The history of the Triangle Club is long and involved, but it’s still kicking today. During the mid-nineteenth century, dramatics at Princeton began in fits and starts as it struggled to take hold within a college steeped in Presbyterian morals. By 1883, religious views softened and Triangle Club’s predecessor formed as the Princeton College Dramatic Association (PCDA). “David Garrick” was PCDA’s first production held May 10, 1883. By 1891, PCDA had joined forces with the University Glee Club to stage its first musical performance, “Po-ca-hon-tas.” It was so successful, it was performed again the next year with revisions.

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Some of the cast of “Po-ca-hon-tas,” 1891. Triangle Club Records (AC122), Box 93.

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