This Week in Princeton History for May 16-22

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, the administration bans automobiles on campus, a student writes to a friend to say being admitted to Princeton has not improved him, and more.

May 18, 1925—In response to student complaints, starting today, private automobiles, motorcycles, and carriages will no longer be permitted on Princeton’s campus, except if needed for business purposes. Students have expressed concerns about the way these vehicles tear up the grass and make it too noisy to study.

Three students with a car on campus, ca. 1920s. Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box SP14, Item No. 3412.

May 19, 1951—In observance of Armed Forces Day, local shops include military exhibits in their window displays.

May 20, 1877—James McCosh permits students to experiment with a “camp prayer-meeting,” holding the usual prayer service outdoors instead of indoors.

May 21, 1782—Ashbel Green writes to a friend, “I can assure you that I am not one inch taller, nor, that I know of, one whit the better for my admittance to Nassau Hall.”

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This Week in Princeton History for May 9-15

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Lyndon B. Johnson asks Princeton intellectuals to “cool it,” students mourn the death of a classmate, and more.

May 9, 1807—The New York Weekly Inspector identifies the recent rebellion at Princeton as part of larger trends in American society:

The conduct of students on this occasion, although extremely reprehensible, is perfectly consistent with the tenets of our quack politicians, our sticklers for human perfectibility. The same mental epidemic which has crazed Europe, and is extending its baleful ravages throughout the civilized world, has contaminated these young rights-of-boy politicians.

May 11, 1966—After receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws at a special ceremony at Princeton University’s new Woodrow Wilson School building, Lyndon B. Johnson asks an audience of over 3,000 for support of his policies in Vietnam while antiwar protesters carry placards outside. “The responsible intellectual,” Johnson says, should “‘cool it’, to bring what my generation called ‘not heat but light’ to public affairs.”

May 13, 1977—The Daily Princetonian reports that the mathematics department has admitted a 15-year-old Ph.D. student, Eric R. Jablow *83.

May 15, 1870—The sudden death of George Wilson Pillow, Class of 1871, has “cast a deep gloom over the college.”

George Wilson Pillow, Class of 1871. Historical Photograph Collection, Alumni Photographs Series (AC058), Box SP02.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 2-8

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Bob Hope jokes with students, a Pennsylvania newspaper questions James McCosh’s decision-making, and more.

May 2, 1836—The Mammoth Exhibition of the Zoological Institute in New York (an early traveling circus) is in town. Those who pay the 25-cent admission fee are promised a view of exotic animals, including live tigers.

May 3, 1984—The Whig-Cliosophic Society presents Bob Hope with the James Madison Award. Hope responds, “I love it when a relic gives something to a relic.”

Bob Hope with students at Princeton University, May 3, 1984. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 142.

May 4, 1881—The St. Albans Daily Messenger criticizes James McCosh for not allowing the Glee Club to perform a concert in Trenton for the benefit of the Grand Army Post. McCosh reasoned that the saloons and “houses of ill fame” in Trenton made the environment inappropriate for the students, but the Messenger disagrees. “If these Princeton students are what they ought to be there could be no harm in their fulfilling their engagement in Trenton if the saloons and houses of ill fame were as thick in that city as in Luther’s imagination devils might have been in the city of Worms.”

May 7, 1845—Philadelphia resident Sears C. Walker receives a letter from professor Stephen Alexander in Princeton, who writes that he has seen the tail of a comet.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 25-May 1

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students prepare to go to war, a graduate sets off for the West, and more.

April 25, 1931—In London’s Saturday Review, French author Andre Maurois writes of his experience teaching French literature at Princeton as a visiting lecturer for a semester:

Most [American students] are not at all enthusiastic over the material progress of our time. They want something more; they want moral progress. … I ended by no longer considering them foreigners, quite different from French students. I never felt that they and I belonged to two different civilizations. They are relations, and good ones, younger than ourselves; but youth is not a defect.

April 26, 1861—The New York World reports that Princeton students have formed a volunteer corps, the “Old Nassau Cadets,” in case they are needed to fight against what is known in the north as “The Rebellion” and will later be known as the Civil War.

April 27, 1747—The Board of Trustees announces to the public that they have appointed Jonathan Dickinson president of the new College of New Jersey and it will open for students during the fourth week in May in Elizabethtown.

April 29, 1874—Josiah McClain, Class of 1871, sets off for the western frontier (Utah and Nevada Territories), where he will work as a missionary.

Josiah McClain, Class of 1871, ca. 1871. Historical Photograph Collection: Alumni Photographs Series (AC058), Box MP29.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, war bonds are on sale, faculty prohibit students from participating in a 12-hour walking match, and more.

April 20, 1942—Students can buy war bonds in Clio Hall today.

War bonds brochure, ca. 1942. Office of the Vice President and Secretary Records (AC190), Box 35, Folder 7.

April 21, 1979—A report on NBC Evening News considers the changing mores at Princeton University, where some students complain of intense pressure to have sex. Bill Kirby, introduced as “a sex therapist who is also Princeton’s Methodist chaplain,” says the cultural rules have changed from a prohibition on sex to a prescription for sex—the culture demands that students must be “a sexual gourmet, a sexual Ph.D.”

April 22, 1884—Natural history professor George Macloskie is elected chairman of the Prohibition Convention in Trenton and also delegate-at-large of the National Prohibition Convention.

April 23, 1879—Locals join in the pedestrianism fad by staging a 12-hour walking match, but faculty prohibit students from participating.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 11-17

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Shirley Chisholm speaks on campus, a lantern slide show is well-received, and more.

April 11, 1930—Theatre Intime teams up with the Varsity Club of Bryn Mawr to present “The Constant Nymph.”

April 14, 1972—Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, speaks at the Sickle Cell Cultural Festival sponsored by Princeton’s Association for Black Collegians. Chisholm says to the crowd in McCosh 50, “It may take a little Black woman to guide the ship of state for another four years.”

April 16, 1898—Lantern slides of Princeton’s campus are shown at Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey, where they are reportedly “enthusiastically received.”

Lantern slide of Princeton University’s School of Science, ca. 1890s. Lantern Slide Collection (AC378), Box 1.

April 17, 1995—Tom Grant ‘64 is quoted in the Daily Princetonian on being a gay student in the 1960s: “[I] had thoughts that were troublesome enough to motivate me to seek professional guidance, [but]…it was such a social impossibility to be openly gay that I was happy to be told ‘don’t worry about it’ (by the psychologist).”

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This Week in Princeton History for April 4-10

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students receive word that the U.S. president has died, a faculty member applies for admission as an undergraduate, and more.

April 5, 1841—Local residents receive word that United States President William Henry Harrison has died. In accordance with their usual custom, students will wear mourning badges for 30 days.

April 7, 1886—A bulletin posted on Nassau Street reads, “No base-ball game to-day. Humidity prevents.”

April 8, 1970—Helena Novakova, a visiting lecturer in Slavic languages and literatures who has already taught two courses, fills out a transfer application in the registrar’s office. She will be accepted as a junior Russian major in the Class of 1972, which will enable her to renew her visa and stay in the United States. It remains unsafe to return to Czechoslovakia following the Russian invasion.

Helena Novakova ’72 with tennis coach Eve Craft, ca. 1972. As a Princeton University undergraduate, Novakova was captain of the undefeated women’s tennis team. Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC199).

April 10, 1912—Beginning with today’s game with Lehigh, at athletic events on campus the Bureau of Self-Help will sell new score cards that they have published. The 5-cent sales will be used to help the members of the Bureau pay their educational expenses.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 28-April 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students join Anthony Comstock’s quest to rid America of vice, Princeton circulates a questionnaire for its “enemy aliens,” and more.

March 29, 1888—In a lecture to the Philadelphian Society, Anthony Comstock convinces many Princeton students to join his cause. This week, some of them will vote for a resolution to “express our thorough appreciation of Mr. Comstock’s work, and endorse his efforts in the suppression of vice.” Comstock opposes obscenity, abortion, contraception, gambling, prostitution, patent medicine, and women’s suffrage. The Philadelphian will note in its April issue, “It is a long time since the college has been stirred by any speaker as it was by the plain, straightforward, earnest words of Mr. Comstock.”

April 1, 1942—Princeton University circulates a questionnaire for its “enemy aliens” among its students, faculty, and staff.

Questionnaire sent to “enemy aliens” at Princeton University, April 1, 1942. (Click to enlarge.) Office of the Treasurer Records (AC128), Box 10. 

April 2, 1876—Some frosh take revenge on a mathematics tutor they say has wronged them by detonating a pound of explosives outside his door. The explosion breaks a window and sends part of his door flying into the room, damaging his sofa, Pittsburgh’s Daily Post will later report.

April 3, 1868—“Delta” writes in Princeton Standard: “This is a great town for customs, and for ancient, venerable, and time-honored things in general. We hear of them everlastingly. They are the burden of the song by day and by night. … Next to a ridiculous veneration for old customs, Princeton’s greatest enemy is her overweening self-conceit.”

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This Week in Princeton History for March 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a local editorial argues against suffrage for the emancipated, a Prince initiative gets attention in London, and more.

March 22, 1867—An editorial in the Princeton Standard argues that those formerly enslaved in the South should not be permitted to vote, and instead the South should be put under military rule to avoid a situation in which “black Senators become the peers of white Senators in Congress.” “It matters not that the whites have behaved badly and refused a better policy.”

March 24, 1996—Charles Cox ’97 leads a trip to the Shenandoah mountains in Virginia, away from the local lights, to observe the brightest comet to pass by in a century (the Hyakutake Comet or so-called “Great Comet of 1996”). Predictions say it will not be visible from Earth again for another 9,000 years.

March 25, 1933—London’s Sphere mentions the Daily Princetonian’s 25-cent scrip sales in a report on the American banking crisis.

PAY TO THE ORDER OF ENDORSEE TWENTY-FIVE CENTS ONLY

Daily Princetonian scrip, 1933. Daily Princetonian General Records (AC285), Box 2.

March 27, 1904—A group of students attempt to prank the inhabitants of a dorm room with a dummy made to look like a murdered corpse in one of the residents’ beds, but it quickly gets out of hand when more than 1,000 people come to see the body. The story will end up in the Chicago Tribune.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students organize a Glee Club, betting on football makes the news, and more.

March 16, 1866—Students join with the community to observe a day of fasting, prayer, and confession. All business and schools are closed, and farmers have come in for miles to join in the services held at the First Church. In announcing the fast day, the Princeton Standard explained the intent: “It is hoped that the revival of religion in the College may be extended to the people of the town.”

March 17, 1885—Internationally acclaimed singer Emma Cecilia Thursby performs in University Hall. The Daily Princetonian will pronounce the concert “one of the best treats of the season.”

March 18, 1874—Noting that “the lack of one has been seriously felt during the past few years,” a group of students organize a Glee Club.

Program from Princeton College Glee Club concert, June 26, 1875. Music Performance at Princeton Collection (AC205), Box 3.

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