This Week in Princeton History for June 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, John Witherspoon’s marriage is celebrated, a sophomore writes to his father about an upcoming election, and more.

June 1, 1887–The Princetonian reports on the New Jersey Courier’s investigation into Walter Ridgely. Ridgely, a Texan who made national headlines for killing seven men near the Red River, is not, as many newspaper reports claim, a graduate of Princeton. No record exists of him having ever attended the school.

June 2, 1791—A holiday celebrating the marriage of John Witherspoon, age 68, to the widow of one of his former students, Ann Marshall Dill, age 24, continues on this day.

Clipping from the Gazette of the United States, June 15, 1791.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 25-31

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 1945 survives a bombing in France, the Prince responds to proposed limits on enrollment, and more.

May 25, 1940—Pierre Soesman ’45, who fled Belgium earlier this month, survives a terrifying German bomber attack on the road from Paris to Angers. He will later write of the experience, “When they left, we did not move from the ditch for more than five minutes. Finally, people began to get up, laughing in hysteria.”

May 26, 1921—The Daily Princetonian responds to the news that Princeton will begin limiting enrollment for the first time by kicking off an editorial series urging a holistic approach to admissions decisions rather than one based entirely on test scores.

As Princeton University began limiting enrollment in the 1920s, it instituted a new admissions system that included an application with evaluation from secondary school officials. This is a page from an application from a member of the Class of 1930 found in the Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC198).

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This Week in Princeton History for May 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Nassau Lit celebrates its centennial, pranksters kidnap a professor during a final exam, and more.

May 18, 1942—The Nassau Literary Review’s centennial issue comes out, with selections from many of its best-known historical contributors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Booth Tarkington, Woodrow Wilson, Jacques Maritain, and Norman Thomas.

Cover of the Nassau Literary Review, May 1942.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 11-17

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, an angry bystander punches a graduate student protester, a professor arrives in Athens after drifting 100 miles at sea, and more.

May 11, 1966—Nearly 400 protesters demonstrate their opposition to the American involvement in the Vietnam War during U. S. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit to Princeton University. (Johnson is present for the dedication of the Woodrow Wilson School.) A bystander reportedly expresses disagreement with the protesters by punching a graduate student involved.

Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 4-10

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Whig-Clio representatives meet with Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Stewart gives his last student theater performance, and more.

May 4, 1867—After Princeton’s baseball team defeats Yale 58 to 52, both teams have dinner together at Mercer Hall, parting “the best of friends after their short acquaintance.”

May 5, 1970—Nine members of Whig-Clio and two journalists from the Daily Princetonian meet with Richard Nixon’s chief foreign policy advisor, Henry Kissinger, at the White House. What is usually a routine 4-day annual “Project Update” has become, at the direction of organizers Christopher Godfrey ’72 and Deborah Leff ’73, a vehicle to communicate Princeton’s opposition to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the purpose of the Princeton Strike to officials in Washington.

May 6, 1932—In response to its notable success earlier in the spring, which drew Mary Pickford and representatives from Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Fox to Princeton to attend performances of the play, Theatre Intime restages “Nerissa” with its original cast. Jimmy Stewart ’32 is giving what is expected to be the last acting performance of his life in the supporting role of “McNulty.”

Jimmy Stewart ’32, at right, as “McNulty” in “Nerissa,” Spring 1932. Theatre Intime Records (AC022), Box 17.

May 10, 1876—Students attend the opening of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the first official World’s Fair in the U.S., which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Arthur Bryan, Class of 1878, will later write in the class history book: “A special train was chartered to take us to and from the Centennial grounds, and early in the morning it bore us rapidly away from Princeton. … The ride back from Philadelphia afforded no opportunity for sleeping, as the noise made by singing, patriotic speeches and cat-calls prohibited every approach toward somnific obliviousness.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 27-May 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, James McCosh is elected president of the College, thousands turn out to witness Firestone Library open for the first time, and more.

April 27, 1980—Princeton Against Registration and the Draft (PARD) holds its second protest of Jimmy Carter’s proposal for requiring registration for selective service, in spite of the country not being at war.

April 29, 1868—The Board of Trustees elects James McCosh as president of the College of New Jersey.

James McCosh, ca. 1870s. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box AD13.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 20-26

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Jesse Owens poses, John F. Kennedy speaks, and more.

April 20, 1942—Jesse Owens talks with Princeton’s Creative Sculpture class while he poses for a piece in Joe Brown’s series of sculptures of American athletes.

April 22, 1891—The Princetonian reports that a Civil War veteran is planning to return to campus to join the Class of 1894. He is 53 years old.

April 25, 1973—Princeton hosts its first “Lifestyles Colloquium” to help students learn how to manage a dual-career family.

Ad from the Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 13-19

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian takes over the function of the Bulletin Elm, the baseball team plays its first game, and more.

April 15, 1975—Two students receive a letter offering admission to Princeton in error on or about this day. Though the students were supposed to be rejected, Princeton will honor the acceptance if they choose to attend.

April 17, 1885—The Princetonian announces that it will begin assuming the function of the Bulletin Elm because the tree is dying.

Bulletin Elm, ca. 1885. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP07, Image No. 159.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Evelyn College trustees vote to include women on their board, a shanty in Firestone Plaza demonstrates anti-apartheid sentiment, and more.

April 6, 1895—The Board of Trustees of Evelyn College votes to expand so its membership can include women. Rather than the current 15 men, the board will include 15 men and 15 women.

Evelyn College catalog, 1891-1892. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 330, Folder 4.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 30-April 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library receives a new gift of F. Scott Fitzgerald correspondence, a campus publication rails against women’s suffrage, and more.

March 31, 1967— Charles Scribner Jr. ’43 presents the Princeton University Library with Charles Scribner’s Sons complete correspondence with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917.

An excerpt from a letter F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917, to Max Perkins, his editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, December 20, 1924:
“Hotel des Princes, Piazza di Spague, Rome.
“Dear Max:
“I’m a bit (not very–not dangerously) stewed tonight & I’ll probably write you a long letter. We’re living in a small, unfashionable but most comfortable hotel at $525.00 a month including tips, meals, etc. Rome does not particularly interest me but it’s a big year here, and early in the spring  we’re going to Paris. There’s no use telling you my plans because they’re usually just about as unsuccessful as to work as a religious prognosticater’s [sic] are as to the End of the World. Iv’e got a new novel to write–title and all, that’ll take about a year. Meanwhile, I don’t want to start it until this is out & meanwhile I”ll do short stories for money (I now get $2000.00 a story but I hate worse than hell to do them) and there’s the never dying lure of another play.
“Now! Thanks enormously for making up the $5000.00. I know I don’t technically deserve it considering I’ve had $3000.00 or $4000.00 for as long as I can remember. But since you force it on me (inexorable [or is it exorable] joke) I will accept it. I hope to Christ you get 10 times it back on Gatsby–and I think perhaps you will.” 
Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons (C0101); Manuscripts Division (Firestone Library), Department of Special Collections.

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