This Week in Princeton History for March 23-29

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first intercollegiate gymnastic league meet is held, graduate school is offered as an option for confused seniors, and more.

March 23, 1900—In the first-ever intercollegiate gymnastic league meet, Princeton’s team earns a silver cup, but Columbia wins the top honors.

Princeton’s 1900 Gymnastic Team. Photo from A History of Princeton Athletics (1901).

March 26, 1992—An AT&T answering machine worth $100 is found to have been stolen from Green Hall.

March 28, 1888—Noting that many graduating seniors are “in doubt and ignorance as to what they will do on leaving college” and many graduating seniors “are thrust from college into the world like strangers in a foreign land, with no definite plans or ideas,” the Princetonian recommends graduate school.

March 29, 1976—Scottish filmmakers are on campus to work on a documentary about the American bicentennial. “Liberty’s Child” will air July 18, 1976.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 16-22

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the town is raising money to pay for sprinkling the streets, Robert Goheen defends free speech on campus, and more.

March 18, 1991—On today’s episode of Sally Jesse Raphael, the Princeton University band surprises Brooke Shields ’87 with a rendition of “Cannon.”

March 19, 1886—The Princetonian reports on a fundraising effort in town to pay for sprinkling the streets.

Nassau Street, Princeton, New Jersey, 1881. Historical Photograph Collection (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8619. Sprinkling streets was a way of controlling dust in dry weather.

March 20, 1819—Erkuries Beatty writes to James Hunter Ewing, Class of 1818, to ask for help tracking down a runaway slave named Joseph, age 20.

March 21, 1972—Princeton University president Robert Goheen weighs in on the controversy surrounding R. J. Herrnstein backing out of an invitation to lecture on his research on the intelligence of pigeons (which has led to Herrnstein proposing a theory that racial disparities in IQ testing are based on genetic differences) because Princeton would not ban protesters from attending. In a letter to Herrnstein, Goheen says, “We do not here believe that academicians any more than anyone else have a right to claim total immunity to minor heckling (including placards).”

For the previous 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 March 9-15

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Martin Luther King’s visit to campus is attracting controversy, a new card-playing club forms, and more.

March 9, 1989—A bomb threat—the third in two weeks—cuts midterms short for three classes forced to evacuate McCosh Hall.

March 11, 1874—Students and townspeople alike are alarmed by news of the murder of a peddler passing through town. The Nassau Literary Magazine reports, “The Juniors were so affected that the ‘final’ in logic was altogether forgotten… On the night following, few single rooms were occupied, but companies formed for mutual protection and defence” [sic].

March 13, 1960—Amid controversy, Martin Luther King., Jr. preaches in Princeton University Chapel. His originally scheduled visit was postponed due to the injuries King sustained in an assassination attempt at a department store in 1958. Alumni are divided over whether his visit should be viewed positively. David Baker, Class of 1915, responded in a letter to Robert Goheen, “I would also like to enter my protest against the University selecting a Dean of the Chapel who is not even a naturalized American citizen, and who cannot therefore understand the feelings of the people in America” (Office of the President Records (AC193), Box 193, Folder 16).

March 14, 1895—Students organize the Whist Club, devoted to playing the popular card game of the era.

Students from the Princeton Class of 1889 playing cards, ca. 1889. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP14, Image No. 3470.

For the previous 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 March 2-8

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a ban on pizza delivery is enforced, a release party is held for a new book, and more.

March 2, 1960—Princeton University is enforcing a ban on pizza delivery on campus.

March 4, 1913—2,000 undergraduates attend the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, as president of the United States, bringing a sea of orange and black to the usual red, white, and blue on display.

Student petition for Princeton University holiday for March 4, 1913. Office of the President Records (AC117), Box 57, Folder 4.

March 6, 1947—Martin Niemoeller, said to be “still gaunt from his years of imprisonment,” opens the first in a series of community Lenten services in Princeton University Chapel.

March 7, 1999—The Princeton Arts Council hosts a release party for Latin American Princeton/Princeton Latinoamericano, a compilation of student research projects for SOC/LAS 338: The Sociology of Latinos in the United States and oral histories conducted by the students of Apoyo/Princeton Immigrant Rights League. The book focuses on the town’s immigrant Latinx community.

Cover of Latin American Princeton/Princeton Latinoamericano, 1999.

For the previous 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 February 24-March 1

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor speaks publicly about his escape to America as a fugitive deserter from the Prussian cavalry, the school song gets new lyrics, and more.

February 24, 1883—Professor Joseph Kargé gives a lecture in the Old Chapel, “The Crisis of My Life,” telling the story of how he escaped to America as a fugitive deserter from the Prussian cavalry.

Joseph Kargé, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box 77.

February 26, 1987—After months of debate among students, alumni, and administrators, Princeton University announces that the lyrics to the alma mater, “Old Nassau,” will be officially changed. “My boys” will replaced by “we sing” and “her sons will give while they shall live” will change to “our hearts will give while we shall live.”

“Old Nassau” arranged for male voices, 1905. Princeton Music Collection (AC056), Box 10. (Click to enlarge.)

February 29, 1956—A Princeton sophomore is acquitted on charges of shooting out street lights with a revolver. He will later plead guilty to another charge related to the incident (carrying a concealed weapon).

March 1, 1875—Students are pushing for Princeton to hire women to clean their dorm rooms: “Sweeping and bed-making is women’s work, and there is no reason whatever why we should not have women to do women’s work in our dormitories. Their services can be procured for one-third less wages than is paid the miserable Irishmen who now pretend to set our sanctums in order.”

For the previous 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 February 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, wives are organizing for women’s rights, a new eating club is organized for those looking for something less expensive, and more.

February 17, 1970—Elaine Showalter and Molly Oates, wives of Princeton faculty, lead a discussion of women’s rights in the Old Graduate College Common Room at a meeting of the local chapter of the National Organization of Women. The group of 40 is seeking opportunity to match their educations and abilities. Oates: “Women are unpaid servants of the institution for which a husband works—they entertain and bake cookies. A woman’s position is determined by her husband’s.”

Elaine Showalter, ca. 1990s. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series 9 (AC067), Box 17. Showalter was teaching at Douglass College (Rutgers University) in 1970. She joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1984. For more on faculty wives and their advocacy for broadening women’s roles on campus, see our previous blog post on this topic.

February 21, 1871—A group of women puts on a minstrel show. It is so popular among Princetonians that they are invited back for an encore in March.

February 22, 1998—David Milanaik ’98 gives a presentation entitled “Jew Man Group” about his conversion to evangelical Christianity to a small group of students at Forbes Theater. Milanaik has sparked controversy on campus due to his partnership with Jews for Jesus.

February 23, 1941—Members of the Class of 1943 organize Prospect Cooperative Club, a less expensive option for students who cannot afford Princeton’s traditional eating clubs.

Prospect Cooperative Club, ca. 1942. Photo from 1943 Bric-a-Brac.

For the previous 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 February 10-16

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a local farmer is making use of the waste from the outhouses, badminton debuts on campus, and more.

February 10, 1881—A report to the Board of Trustees notes that a local farmer is emptying the outhouses and taking the excrement to use as manure. (See Volume 6 of the Board of Trustees Minutes.)

February 12, 1891—Prof. Cyrus Brackett gives a lecture on electricity with a demonstration of battery-operated electric lights at Second Presbyterian Church to a large audience.

February 14, 1936—Princeton debuts badminton on campus in a tournament in Dillon Gym.

Princeton University Badminton Club, ca. 1930s. Historical Photograph Collection: Campus Life Series (AC112), Box LP59, Image No. 3890.

February 15, 1960—The New York Times reports that Orange Key’s planned fund-raising dance, advertising “One Hundred Dates to Be Sold,” has been cancelled due to phone calls from angry mothers of the women from Centenary College in Hackettstown, New Jersey, who were unwittingly being offered for “sale.” The Centenary College students have decided not to attend.

For the previous 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 February 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the last winter Commencement is held, a woman successfully bickers an Eating Club for the first time, and more.

February 3, 1949—Princeton holds its sixth and last winter Commencement, presenting 274 degrees. Frank Osborn, Class of 1910, tells the assembled graduates, “we are forced to realize that the world is a dangerous place to live in. That’s a new idea for my generation. We don’t like it.”

Frank Osborn with Harold Dodds at Princeton University’s Feburary 2, 1949 Winter Commencement. Photo from Princeton Alumni Weekly, March 19, 1949. Osborn’s speech can be found in the Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115).

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This Week in Princeton History for January 27-February 2

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 1772 is appointed U.S. Attorney General, the Texas Club forms, and more.

January 27, 1794—William Bradford, Class of 1772, is appointed Attorney General of the United States.

William Bradford, ca. 1790s. Undergraduate Alumni Records 1748-1920 (AC104).

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This Week in Princeton History for January 20-26

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Graduate School reports increased diversity, gym users ask for protection from prying eyes, and more.

January 20, 1949—At “the first 11:00 catharsis in 15 years,” students celebrate the end of final exams with flaming tennis balls and a mock war.

January 21, 1970—The Daily Princetonian reports on an increase in the diversity of the Graduate School’s student population: Black enrollment, at 2.5% (38 students), is seven times what it was in 1967 and a 50% increase in the number of women since 1966 has brought the total number of female graduate students to 200.

Graph showing Graduate School enrollment 1964-1972. Graduate School Records (AC127), Box 67.

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