This Week in Princeton History for August 22-28

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a 1906 postcard gives a weather update, a Canadian library honors a Princeton president, and more.

August 23, 1906—Someone writes and sends a postcard to let a friend know that “The day is hot and the locusts are singing” at Princeton.

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Historical Postcard Collection (AC045), Box 3.

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This Week in Princeton History for August 15-21

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, final exams ask about America’s future, a sophomore wins an unusual contest involving a bus, and more.

August 15, 1945—Future Dean of the Princeton University Chapel Ernest Gordon is freed after 40 months as a prisoner of war in the Japanese Kwai River camps.

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Ernest Gordon, undated. Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel Records (AC144), Box 35.

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This Week in Princeton History for August 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a sophomore heads to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, a freshman meets Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, and more.

August 9, 1850—After a journey of nearly three weeks from Maybank, Georgia, Charles C. Jones, Jr. (Class of 1852) and his brother, Joseph Jones (Class of 1853) arrive in Princeton. Charles writes to let their parents know they have had a safe journey: “There is no institution (West Point scarcely excepted) where there is so complete and full a course of mathematics, and one upon which so great importance is imposed upon this branch, as is here the case. It appears to be their pride to maintain the highest stand in this particular, and consequently all who apply must meet their fullest requirements to the letter.”

August 10, 1964—Philip Hocker ’67 arrives in Jackson, Mississippi volunteering as a civil rights activist. A week later, a white resident will club him with an axe handle, the first in a series of harrowing experiences he will have living and working among African Americans in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.

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Philip Mackay Hocker, 1967 Nassau Herald.

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This Week in Princeton History for August 1-7

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a movie featuring the campus premieres, the library implements a new security policy, and more.

August 1, 1944—Wilson, a biopic film about Woodrow Wilson of the Class of 1879 partially set and filmed on campus, premieres at Roxy Theatre in New York.

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Ticket to the premiere of Wilson, August 1, 1944. Woodrow Wilson Collection (MC168), Box 45, Folder 6.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 25-31

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Presbyterians worry about drinking, the campus operator has a bit less to do, and more.

July 27, 1937—William H. Smathers, who represents New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, writes a response to a letter from one of its professors, William Starr Myers, that makes headlines for its vitriol: “Your letter … convinces me that you are unfit to come in contact with youngsters and confirms my suspicion that ‘dear old Princeton’ would be a bad place to send my two boys who were born and raised in New Jersey. I would not want one of my sons to come under the influence of a mentality so small and so warped…” Myers wrote to Smathers to criticize him for voting in favor of expanding the Supreme Court to 15 justices as Franklin Delano Roosevelt had proposed.

July 29, 1897—The Prohibitionist New York Voice derides Princeton University for employing faculty who have signed a petition for a liquor license for the Princeton Inn, which they identify as the school’s “official grog shop”.

New York Voice headline

Headline from the New York Voice, July 29, 1897. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 343, Folder 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 18-24

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a group is disciplined for a bovine prank, an alumnus opens the Democratic National Convention, and more.

July 18, 1790—Three students are expelled and a fourth is disciplined for an incident the previous June 26 in which, following an evening of drinking at David Hamilton’s Tavern, they put a calf in the pulpit of Nassau Hall.

July 21, 1952—Adlai Stevenson ’22, governor of Illinois, opens the Democratic National Convention. Five days later, he will accept its nomination as United States president.

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Democratic National Committee campaign handbook, 1952. Adlai Stevenson Papers (MC124), Box 226, Folder 5.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 11-17

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the logistics of emancipation are debated, plans for a School of Science are approved, and more.

July 11, 1944—Robert S. Ward ’42, a forward artillery observer, is killed in action in France.

July 12, 1968—The Committee on the Education of Women at Princeton gives its final report to the Board of Trustees, urging that the University “move as quickly as possible to implement coeducation…”

July 13, 1792—Students at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) debate this question: “Is not the emancipation of slaves, without preparing them by proper education to be good citizens[,] inconsistent with humanity & sound policy?” (Source)

July 15, 1864—In recognition of the changing needs of the student body, the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) approve a plan to establish a second course of study at Princeton within a special School of Science. This marks the first time that undergraduate education at Princeton will not require the same coursework of all students regardless of their future careers.

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Interior of the School of Science, 1881. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP81, Image No. 3283.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 4-10

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a new mandatory fitness program begins, a professor’s research revises a 50-year-old theory, and more.

July 4, 1938—A record-setting crowd of 25,000 turns out to view a fireworks display in Palmer Stadium that includes exploding renderings of a man on a flying trapeze, Nassau Hall, George Washington, and the emblem of the American Legion.

July 5, 1764—The Pennsylvania Journal reports that popular evangelist George Whitefield is at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) while making his way from New York to Philadelphia.

July 6, 1942—A new mandatory fitness program designed to ensure all Princeton University students are physically prepared for war service begins.

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Students run an obstacle course at Princeton University ca. 1941-1945. Official United States Navy photograph, Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP214, Image No. 5630.

July 10, 1998—Science reports on Princeton University chemistry professor Warren Warren’s recent discovery of flawed assumptions in the 50-year-old theory underlying nuclear magnetic resonance spectoscopy (NMR), the technology used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. This work will lead to the use of new types of contrast in MRI scans and clearer images.

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Warren Warren and research associate Sangdoo Ahn with NMR spectrometer, 1998. Photo from Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

This Week in Princeton History for June 27-July 3

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Ulysses S Grant visits the campus, women take classes for the first time, and more.

June 27, 1871—Sitting U.S. President Ulysses S Grant visits the College of New Jersey (Princeton) for the first time.

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Sketch of Ulysses S Grant by Emery Kelen, undated. Derso and Kelen Collection (MC205), Box 52, Folder 39.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 20-26

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first collegiate track contest is held on campus, Japanese visitors ceremonially forgive scientists for their role in the development of the atomic bomb, and more.

June 20, 1779—William Richardson Davie (Class of 1776) leads a charge against the British at the Battle of Stono Ferry. He is wounded and falls off his horse, but evades capture.

June 21, 1873—The first collegiate track contest in the United States is held at the College of New Jersey (Princeton).

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Program from Caledonian Games, College of New Jersey (Princeton), June 21, 1873. Athletic Programs Collection (AC042), Box 17, Folder 1.

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