This Week in Princeton History for September 19-25

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, the campus community prays for Birmingham, the Graduate College opens for occupancy, and more.

September 19, 1963—The University Chapel is open from 12:00-7:00 for prayer and meditation on the racial crisis in Birmingham, Alabama following the Ku Klux Klan bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.

September 20, 1932—Acting Princeton president Edward D. Duffield ’92 writes to reassure students and alumni that Princeton will continue to function in spite of its serious economic and administrative challenges.

By reason of rigid economy and able administration Princeton completed the last fiscal year ending June 30, 1932, without a deficit, and we have every reason to believe that by added economies to offset possible loss of income from investments we will be able to show a satisfactory result for the coming year.

September 24, 1913—Princeton’s Graduate College opens for occupancy.

Postcard showing Graduate College and Cleveland Tower, ca. 1920s. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045).

September 25, 1760—Benjamin Rush has delivered what the Pennsylvania Gazette describes as “an ingenious English Harangue in Praise of Oratory” at Princeton’s Commencement in Nassau Hall.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 12-18

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, the number of applications sets a new record, New Jersey’s new governor expresses support for the new college, and more.

September 13, 1876—James McCosh reports that the number of applications for admission to Princeton reached an all-time high this year: 160.

September 15, 1845—John Tyler visits the campus with J.S. Green and future Senator John Renshaw Thomson, Class of 1817.

Jonathan Belcher. Image courtesy Belcher Ogden Mansion.

September 16, 1747—Jonathan Belcher writes to a friend in London about his arrival in New Jersey, where he has just begun his sojourn as governor after 10 weeks at sea.

I have been received by the good People com’itted to my care with all possible appearance of Respect and Satisfaction and I hope it will be my care to continue it by endeavouring in all laudable ways to render them an Easy happy People who I find unlearn’d and unpolite–and am therefore putting forward the building of a College in this Province for the Instruction of the youth in the Principles of true Religion and good Literature–and I have a good Prospect of bringing it to pass. [sic]

September 17, 1787—Nine alumni of Princeton are present at the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia: Alexander Martin, Class of 1756; William Paterson, Class of 1763; Oliver Ellsworth, Class of 1766; Luther Martin, Class of 1766; William Churchill Houston, Class of 1768; Gunning Bedford, Class of 1771; James Madison, Class of 1771; and Jonathan Dayton, Class of 1776.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, the arrival of undergraduate women draws attention, a recent graduate reflects on the contrast between life as a student and life on a war’s front lines, and more.

September 6, 1969—Amid media fanfare and besieged by unsolicited attention from their male peers, undergraduate women arrive on campus.

Clay Fowler ‘72 helping his sister, Dee Dee Fowler ‘73, move in to her new dorm in September 1969. Dee Dee was one of the women who arrived during the first year Princeton University admitted female undergraduate degree candidates. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112).

September 8, 1875—Reflecting on the time he has spent in America, Princeton’s president, James McCosh, tells students, “Physiologists tell us that in seven years every particle of matter in the body is renewed. Now I have been seven years in this place, and I feel as if I had become thoroughly an American. During these seven years I have become identified out and out with Princeton College.”

September 9, 1917—Robert Lee Nourse, Jr., Class of 1917, writes to his parents from “The Front” in France.

And only four months ago I was living the idle, dreamy life of the student…During these four months I have lived two lives; I have experienced many times the content of the other twenty-one years. … I have found that in the ideals, the life and death of this great War, that which I had thought gone—has come to life in an almost unreal intensity, an intensity that must dim the “far off things.”

September 10, 1761—The planned drawing for the College of New Jersey Lottery to support Princeton does not take place today, because, as the Pennsylvania Gazette will report, the managers have “many of their Tickets in distant places,” and “are forced to postpone…”

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This Week in Princeton History for August 29-September 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, whether Commencement will take place is uncertain, Princeton sets up temporary housing, and more.

August 29, 1878—An article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the state of baseball in America notes that some amateur teams are far better than the professional ones. “In this respect, Princeton College bears off the palm, her College nine being about the best in the list…”

August 30, 1832—As fears mount about the ongoing global cholera pandemic, the New York Spectator warns that Princeton’s Commencement may not take place: “the occurrence of this annual celebration will depend on the health of the country.”

August 31, 1995—Certificates of occupancy are issued for 10 temporary residential units rented from After Disaster. It was necessary to rent these units to accommodate an incoming class with 65-70 more students than anticipated.

Temporary housing units, 1995. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD03, Image No. 7872.

September 1, 1945—Three Marines are awarded Purple Hearts at a ceremony on Goldie Field. All Navy V-12 and Marines trainees on campus participate.

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This Week in Princeton History for August 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, royals take a tour, an athletic meet for Chinese students is held on campus, and more.

August 25, 1975—Royalty from Monaco—Princess Grace, Prince Rainier, and their children, Caroline and Albert—visit Princeton on a tour of American colleges that includes Williams and Amherst.

August 26, 1819—A letter to the editor of New York’s Commercial Advertiser briefly details the burial of College president Samuel Stanhope Smith.

His remains were attended to the grave by the largest concourse of people ever witnessed in this place. Six Trustees bore the pall, and eight members of the church conveyed the body to its last home. The Students of the College went into mourning, and formed part of the procession, Clergymen, Strangers, from the adjacent towns, and the inhabitants of the borough, followed in the train.

August 27, 1986—University administrators write to a company named “Princeton International.” The company, which is not affiliated with Princeton, is trying to sell diet drugs via advertising in the Weekly World News tabloid with the implication they are a product manufactured by the school. “If the response from dissatisfied and unhappy users of your products is any indication, there is in fact substantial misimpression being given …”

August 28, 1911—An intercollegiate athletic meet is held at Princeton in which all competitors are Chinese students from Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Cornell, and other American colleges. It includes a kite-flying contest.

Clipping from the London Sphere, September 16, 1911, depicting scenes from the Chinese students’ intercollegiate athletic competition at Princeton University.

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This Week in Princeton History for August 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a dean dreams of pretty postcards, the natural history museum receives a significant donation of specimens, and more.

August 15, 1923—Andrew Fleming West, Dean of the Graduate School, writes to a friend about his hopes to get attractive postcards printed showing scenes around campus: “They have such cards at Oxford and Cambridge—really artistic souvenirs—some from photographs, some from pen-and-ink drawings. Why, O why can’t we do it?”

This postcard booklet contained 16 images from Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary’s campuses, with Nassau Hall on the cover (shown here) and the Graduate College on the reverse. It appears to date from the 1930s or 1940s. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045).

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This Week in Princeton History for August 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, the College treasurer defends himself against rumors of embezzlement, a new graduate meets an untimely end, and more.

August 9, 1844—With a high of 91 degrees, this is the hottest day of the year. It is “rather warmer” overall this year than in 1843.

August 10, 1881—Rumors are circulating in local publications that William Harris, the college treasurer, is embezzling from funds meant to supply fuel to heat students’ rooms and is keeping money parents have sent for their children rather than giving it to the students. Harris vows to demand that the Board of Trustees investigate. The Trustees will find no wrongdoing.

August 11, 1956—Philip E. Capicotto ’56 dies of cancer that has spread from his hip to his brain. He has kept his diagnosis largely under wraps among his classmates. “Phil had a very short life,” his mother will say, “but Princeton made up four very fruitful, beautiful years for him. He loved it. I’m so grateful he went there.”

Though Philip Capicotto ’56 struggled through his final semester, as can be seen in this document in his academic file, he nonetheless graduated with honors. (Click to enlarge.) Undergraduate Academic Records (AC198).

August 13, 1818—A writer for New York’s National Advocate notes in his travel log for the area:

Trenton–noble bridge–good supper, bad beds–fine roads, spirited horses–Princeton–students great bucks–segars [sic], rattans, and pretty women–good auxiliaries to study–Brunswick–old inns–paved streets and gothic mansions…

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This Week in Princeton History for August 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an alum encourages political revolution, a newspaper speculates on the reasons 32 Princeton students have flunked, and more.

August 2, 1781—Preaching to “a large assembly,” James Power (Class of 1766) urges support for the American Revolution. “Think of ye cruel acts of ye British parliament,” he says, “by which we and our children ar[e] to be made slaves forever, and the money which we had earned by the sweat of our brows taken from us without a reason rendered for so doing.”

August 3, 1901—The Trenton Evening Times speculates that the failure of 32 students at Princeton on their recent exams—meaning they will all drop back one year—is the fault of an overemphasis on athletics.

“Athletics” section header from 1901 Bric-a-Brac. The largely forgotten rallying cry on the fireplace in the illustration, “Oranje Boven,” is Dutch for “Orange on Top.” It was once a popular cheer for fans at Princeton sporting events, but today, you’ll be more likely to hear it from fans of soccer in the Netherlands.

August 4, 1942—To support the local Community Canning Kitchen, a group of undergraduates picks 13 bushels of apples from a local garden, which other volunteers will turn into applesauce.

August 5, 2010—The U.S. Senate votes 63-37 to confirm Elena Kagan ’81 as a Supreme Court justice.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 25-31

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a student vows to eat no more lobsters, an athlete wins a significant award, and more.

July 25, 1956—Joseph Levy *58 is traveling with his new wife via the Andrea Doria from Genoa after their wedding in Paris when the ship collides with the Stockholm off Nantucket Island. The ship sinks, but the Levys survive along with the 1,632 others from the Andrea Doria’s crew and passengers who climbed down precarious rope ladders to waiting lifeboats sent from the Stockholm. They will welcome the birth of their son, Andrea D. Levy, exactly one year later.

July 26, 1893—The Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner reports on John Bull, America’s first train, being run to celebrate the anniversary of train travel on its original route from Jersey City to Philadelphia: “At Princeton about 300 students took possession of the train for about 15 minutes, making the old cars ring with their college cry.”

July 27, 1837—James W. Albert writes to his mother, Ellen W. Albert, “Tell Thayer that we have had chickens three or four times, we used to have them every Monday. Last Monday we had lobsters. I ate some which made me a little sick and I determined not to eat any during my stay here; I think veal is as good if not better.”

First page of a letter from James W. Albert, Class of 1838, to Ellen W. Albert, July 27, 1837. (Click to enlarge.) Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC104), Box 88.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a material shortage forever alters a Princeton tradition, an alum is forced to take charge, and more.

July 20, 1943—Due to shortages of the material needed, all members of the Class of 1945 who want beer jackets must have registered their requests already. No unregistered student will be eligible. University Store officials say that the material shortage will mean that the Class of 1945 will have to dispense with the overalls, and just have a jacket. This change will ultimately be permanent.

The Class of 1945’s beer jacket graphic was designed by John M. Kauffman ’45. The “Toll Tiger” (a take on the mascot popularized by Henry Toll ’42) holds a rifle and wears a medal to symbolize the class’s military service. The tiger looks puzzled as a symbol of the uncertainty the class felt about the future. The tiger’s shadow is the shadow of the self, whose straw hat, club tie, cane, bottle, and book reflect expectations of college life that were not fully realized. The numbers for the class year are written in broken lines to symbolize that class unity was shattered by World War II, with the cross line of the numeral “4” remaining solid to reflect the war’s intervention in separating students from one another. For his work, Kauffman was given a free jacket. Beer Jacket Designs Collection (AC313), Box 2.

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