This Week in Princeton History for August 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate secures her spot on the Supreme Court, multiple fights break out in Nassau Hall at the same time, and more.

August 4, 1979—The University retires its IBM 370-158 and IBM 360-91 in favor of a new IBM 3033, a much faster processor with 4 MB of memory and a price tag of $3.45 million (approximately $11.35 million in 2015 currency). It is predicted to save operating costs in the long term.

August 6, 2009—The U.S. Senate confirms the appointment of Princeton alum Sonia Sotomayor ’76, making her the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court.

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Sonia Sotomayor ’76’s Nassau Herald (senior yearbook) photo.

August 7, 1805—What the faculty refer to as a “considerable disturbance” occurs in Nassau Hall. A later investigation will find, among other things, that a sophomore “had insulted one of his fellow students, without any provocation, by giving him some drink which he afterward told him contained some nastiness,” and “this was the beginning of the noise.” In a seemingly unrelated incident, another fight breaks out simultaneously when a sophomore begins kicking a large jug down the hallways.

August 8, 1843—The start of the first term is changed from November to August and opens with about 50 students.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 27-August 2

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the campus cracks down on gambling, students get to work to put themselves through college, and more.

July 27, 1837—James W. Albert, Class of 1838, writes to his mother about the news from Nassau Hall. A crackdown on gambling has already resulted in a dozen students being expelled, but is still ongoing: “Boss says he is going to dismiss forty for gambling; more than half the students are suspected.”

July 28, 1754—Nathaniel Fitz Randolph deeds 4 ½ acres in Princeton to the College of New Jersey (including the building site of Nassau Hall).

July 29, 1993—Three Princetonians begin a record-setting road trip that will have them seeing 28 major league baseball games in 28 cities in 28 days.

August 1, 1911—The Student Bureau of Self-Help, precursor to the Student Employment Agency, begins connecting cash-strapped Princeton students with local jobs.

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Students have held a wide variety of jobs on campus since 1911. Here, Edwin Salter ’39 works as the night switchboard operator for the University exchange, ca. 1938. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP13, Image No. 3315.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 20-26

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a beloved staff member dies, the opening of a new recreational center for military personnel on campus is announced, and more.

July 20, 1899—The Peary Relief Expedition arrives in the port of North Sydney, Nova Scotia with several Princeton professors on board. Their boat, the Diana, carries supplies for Robert Peary, who is exploring Greenland in his quest to reach the North Pole. The professors take the opportunity to conduct scientific research in the Arctic along the way.

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The Diana in port, July 20, 1899. Princeton Scientific Expeditions Collection (AC012), Box 9.

July 22, 1902—James Johnson, an escaped slave who became known as the “students’ friend” during his long sojourn working at Princeton, dies at the age of 87.

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James Johnson in the 1894 Bric-a-Brac.

July 23, 1797—In a letter to his ward and stepgrandson, George Washington Parke Custis, College of New Jersey (Princeton) Class of 1799, George Washington observes that “no college has turned out better scholars or more estimable characters than Nassau.”

July 26, 1943—In cooperation with the USO, the University announces the opening of a new recreation center in Murray-Dodge Hall for military personnel assigned to Princeton.

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Soldiers walking by Murray-Dodge Hall, ca. 1943. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP208, Image No. 5495.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 13-19

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first African American head coach in the Ivy League is hired, a professor climbs a mountain, and more.

July 13, 1770—Students are outraged by a “Letter from the Merchants in New York to the Committee of Merchants in Philadelphia,” which they have somehow intercepted. The letter outlines the intent of the New York merchants to abandon a nonimportation agreement within the colonies. In response, the students process in front of Nassau Hall and burn the letter “with hearty Wishes, that the Names of all Promoters of such a daring Breach of Faith, may be blasted in the Eyes of every Lover of Liberty, and their Names handed down to Posterity, as Betrayers of their Country.”

July 14, 1970—Larry Ellis is named head coach of track and cross country at Princeton University, becoming the first African American head coach in the Ivy League. He will later coach at the 1984 Olympic Games.

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Larry Ellis (far left, middle row) with the 1981 Princeton University cross country team. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 168.

July 16, 1799—Three students are brought before the faculty on charges of “a violation of those Laws of the College which forbid the carrying of firearms.” They write a letter of apology and are permitted to continue their studies.

July 17, 1877—Princeton professor William Libbey makes the first recorded ascent of Mount Princeton near Nathrop, Colorado.

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Mount Princeton, undated. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 27.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 6-12

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the rowing crew makes it to the top, a senior makes a major fossil discovery, and more.

July 8, 1956—Princeton’s Crew beats England’s Royal Air Force in the final round of the international Thames Cup race, earning Princeton the designation of the best lightweight rowing crew in the world.

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Princeton competes in the Thames Cup race, July 1956. Princeton University Rowing Collection (AC223), Box 1.

July 9, 1776—The Declaration of Independence is read in Nassau Hall.

July 11, 1992—Princeton staffer Robert Lafond of Computing and Information Technology (now the Office of Information Technology/OIT) begins his seventh eight-day bike ride of 500 miles across five states to raise money for a shelter for abused children.

July 12, 1979—Princeton senior Fran A. Tannenbaum ’80 discovers fossilized dinosaur eggs on a paleontology expedition in Montana. They are the first nest of whole dinosaur eggs ever found in North America.

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John R. “Jack” Horner, a geology department research assistant who led Princeton’s 1979 paleontology expedition in Montana, shows off the dinosaur eggs Fran A. Tannenbaum ’80 discovered. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 145.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 29-July 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, head cheerleader Jimmy Stewart ’32 dies, students find themselves paying for a good deed, and more.

June 29, 1914—Construction begins on Palmer Stadium.

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Palmer Stadium under construction, August 3, 1914. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP72, No. 2869.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 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 math professor receives worldwide acclaim, the school colors appear for the first time, and more.

June 23, 1994—Professor Andrew Wiles draws international attention with his announcement that he has found a proof for Fermat’s Last Theorem, a problem whose solution has eluded mathematicians for 350 years.

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Andrew Wiles. Photo from Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 15-21

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first woman receives an honorary degree, a senior is arrested during civil rights activism, and more.

June 15, 1978—Elizabeth “Lisa” Najeeb Halaby ’73 marries King Hussein and becomes Queen of Jordan, taking the name Noor Al-Hussein.

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Elizabeth Halaby, future Queen Noor of Jordan, at a Princeton football game in 1969. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 223.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Bob Dylan finds inspiration at Commencement, a sitting U.S. President visits Princeton for the first time, and more.

June 8, 1976—To raise money for various projects, the Princeton University Library auctions off an “Inverted Jenny” stamp from its collections for $170,000.

June 9, 1970—Bob Dylan receives an honorary Doctorate of Music from Princeton University, on the grounds that “Although he is now approaching the perilous age of thirty, his music remains the authentic expression of the disturbed and concerned conscience of young America.” Dylan’s experience at Princeton will later inspire the song, “Day of the Locusts.”

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Bob Dylan at Princeton University’s 1970 Commencement. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box AD31, Folder 23.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 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 sitting U.S. president gives the Commencement address, a judge tries to get information about damage to Nassau Hall, and more.

June 2, 1851—Thomas Mifflin Hall, Class of 1853, celebrates his sixteenth birthday at Princeton by attempting to do some work for class: “I did not get out all the lesson, as I fell asleep while studying,” he notes in his diary.

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Thomas Mifflin Hall’s diary entry for June 2, 1851. Student Correspondence and Writings Collection (AC334), Box 10.

June 3, 1980—Princeton sophomore Lynda M. Clarizio ’82 casts her vote as a delegate in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district for Senator Ted Kennedy for U.S. President. She was one of eight Kennedy supporters selected from 37 contenders at the April 13, 1980 convention in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

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Lynda Clarizio. Photo from Daily Princetonian.

June 4, 1996—Sitting U.S. President Bill Clinton gives the Commencement address at Princeton. He asks students not to forget that Americans have a “common purpose.” “Because of the education you have, if America does well, you will do very well. If America is a good country to live in, you will be able to build a very good life.”

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Charles P. Stowell ’96 shakes hands with U.S. President Bill Clinton at Princeton’s 1996 Commencement. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 170.

June 6, 1828—A Middlesex County judge begins an inquiry into a firecracker explosion in a Princeton classroom on May 28, which destroyed its stove and blew out its windows. The faculty minutes note: “three students being called before him, refused to give testimony, avowing their determination to go to jail, rather than be placed under oath at this time.” The judge orders them to return at a later date. Ultimately, a student will anonymously confess and send $150 to cover the damages, and the matter will be dropped.

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