This Week in Princeton History for April 12-18

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, women’s tennis plays its first game, violence breaks out over fashion, and more.

April 12, 1971—Women’s tennis plays its first game, defeating Penn 5-to-1.

Photos of women playing tennis from Princeton University’s 1971 Bric-a-Brac.

April 14, 1947—As the New Jersey telephone workers strike enters its second week, picketers are seen in town with signs reading “Neither Ma Bell or Pa Driscoll can enslave us.” Although the University switchboard operators are not involved, because they are employees of Princeton University rather than the telephone company, this does mean that no calls can be made to anyone off campus except in cases of emergency.

April 16, 1931—The Undergraduate Council unanimously condemns some students who have been seen wearing denim overalls, because they look too much like beer suits. “Yesterday’s spectacle of a few Juniors and a few Freshmen wearing light blue and dark blue overalls respectively…constituted an attempt to break down a privileged tradition of many years standing which belonged exclusively to the Senior Class.” Some of the underclassmen have also bought matching denim jackets. The store that sold the clothes to the students has been threatened, but owners vow to sell overalls and jackets to whomever they like in spite of the threats. Violence has broken out on campus, with seniors attacking underclassmen wearing denim on Prospect Street. The juniors are calling their outfits “Applejackets.”

This ad, which appeared in the April 16, 1931 issue of the Daily Princetonian, suggests how seriously the owners of the store that sold denim overalls to underclassmen took the threats they’d received from members of the Class of 1931.

April 17, 2001—Princeton president Harold Shapiro urges Chinese president Jiang Zemin to release Shaomin Li *88. Li was detained by Chinese security forces on February 25 and has not yet been charged with a crime.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Princetonians join NOW’s rally in Washington, the Board of Trustees urge parents not to send their children too much money, and more.

April 5, 1877—Marveling at the possibilities the intention of the telephone has brought, the Princetonian anticipates a future with remote learning and the ability to order meals on a whim: “Oh, when will this glorious activity among students appear, when from morning until night, from year in until year out, we need not leave our rooms, but can pursue our College course, and can at last graduate a la Telephone?

April 6, 2000—Graduate student Xiaohui Fan discovers a quasar.

April 9, 1989—More than 160 Princeton students and faculty members join hundreds of thousands of others in the National Organization for Women (NOW) rally for abortion rights in Washington, D.C.

Clipping from the Daily Princetonian.

April 10, 1807—The Board of Trustees writes to parents urging them not to give more money to students than is strictly necessary. Students will need $188.32 for tuition, room, board, wood, servants, candles, laundry, and incidentals, and no more than $250-$280 per year for all other expenses, including the furnishings for their rooms. The Board has established a Bursar in order to manage students’ money. “The guardians of the college cannot too earnestly press upon parents the danger of much exceeding in their remittances…they may be assured they do it at the great hazard of both the virtue, and to the scholarship of their sons. More young men have been injured by money and credit in this institution than by all other causes.”

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This Week in Princeton History for March 29-April 4

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 1905 denounces racial exclusion, Elm Club opens, and more.

March 29, 1940—Socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas, Class of 1905, takes Princeton’s racial exclusion to task in the Princeton Alumni Weekly. “At the least, if generation after generation of Princetonians is to support a custom which would make Princeton hell for the best qualified Negro, let us speak more respectfully of Hitler’s barbarous pseudo science of race.”

April 1, 1871—Today’s issue of Princeton’s College World rails against women’s involvement in politics and advocacy for women’s suffrage. “It is generally advocated by women who have long since banished all the hopes which they once entertained of becoming faithful and loving wives, and who have for a long time been deprived of those charms of youth and comeliness which may have once marked them as attractive members of society. … the cause is utterly worthless, indeed, to a great measure pernicious, since it would overthrow the benefits arising from our present form of government which has been established after so much labor and bloodshed.” They urge women to take care of orphans instead.

April 2, 1999—The “Pequod Express” takes frazzled Politics majors facing a tight senior thesis deadline from the Pequod copy center directly to Corwin Hall to drop off their bound theses and fill out final paperwork.

April 3, 1895—Princeton’s Elm Club opens.   

Elm Club as it appeared in the 1897 Bric-a-Brac.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the temperance movement finds support, A Beautiful Mind begins filming on campus, and more.

March 23, 1843—Princetonians are collecting data about the Great Comet passing by.

March 24, 1830—The Boston Recorder reports that a Temperance Society “on the plan of entire abstinence has been recently formed by the students of Nassau Hall, the majority of whom have attached themselves to it. One or two young gentlemen who had been in the habit of a pretty free use of ardent spirits, were among the first to attach their names to the constitution.”

March 25, 1986—The Korean Students Association meets with faculty in the East Asian Studies department to discuss a proposal to reinstate Korean language studies at Princeton. Korean classes have not been available to students since the 1960s.

March 27, 2001—A Beautiful Mind begins filming at Princeton University.

Russell Crowe and Ron Howard talk on the set of A Beautiful Mind, 2001. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 198.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, 100 Princetonians picket a local bank for ties to apartheid, an unexpected loss of housing causes financial stress, and more.

March 16, 1816—A trunk is discovered open on the lawn of Nassau Hall with $3,000 stolen from it (about $46,000 in 2020 dollars, adjusted for inflation). The trunk belongs to a traveler on his way to New York who was robbed at the local Rowley’s Inn.

March 17, 1977—More than 100 students picket the Princeton Bank and Trust on Nassau Street for more than 90 minutes to demand an end to sales of Krugerrand, a South African gold coin. Sales of the coin help support apartheid, and students want to raise awareness of such entanglements locally, beyond the university’s investments. Emery Witt, a pharmacist next door, is frustrated that the picketing seems to be hurting his own business, but says he is pleased that students are expressing themselves.

Princeton University students picket Princeton Bank and Trust, March 17, 1977. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

March 18, 1997—Ashley Stevenson ’99 and Dan Morris ’98 marry each other at a Spring Break wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah.

March 20, 1843—Charles Godfrey Leland writes to his father to ask for money to cover his expenses after he has unexpectedly lost his room in town and none are available on campus:

The next and greatest question is, what shall I do next session for board—the only way to get a room in College is to take a room and buy the furniture, for every room in College is now occupied and will be still more so next session. Fonte, however, intends going out of College and will give his room (one of the very best) to any one who will buy his furniture (which, with the exception of the carpet, is the same that George Boker had)—for 30 or 40 dollars—which is very cheap. I have promised him I would let him know by the end of this week whether I would take his room or not.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, many feel the CPUC’s response to homophobic violence is unsatisfactory, a graduate student vows to sue the town for his disenfranchisement, and more.

March 8, 1802—The Philadelphia Gazette reports that, due to a recent fire in Nassau Hall, classes at Princeton will be suspended until next May or June.

March 9, 1976—Students are not satisfied with the compromise measure passed by the Council on the Princeton University Community that calls for an affirmation of university policies of non-discrimination and protection of freedom of expression but does not address suppression of free expression through violence or affirm non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The CPUC’s action is taken in response to recent targeted acts against the Gay Alliance of Princeton.

Prospect, an alumni magazine dedicated to repudiating Princeton’s late-20th century transformation into a more inclusive community, covered the controversy over the Gay Alliance of Princeton in its March 15, 1976 issue.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a transit strike stops the Dinky, the state legislature prohibits gaming near Nassau Hall, and more.

March 2, 1983—In response to a retroactive pay cut, New Jersey Transit workers go on strike, halting commuter train service to and from Princeton.

Princeton Station, 1988. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 91.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, campus proctors help local police apprehend men burning crosses in town, new transportation options draw comment, and more.

February 22, 1971—Proctors Bruce Beattie and Steven Verish see three men burning a cross at the World War I Memorial Monument at the intersection of Mercer and Stockton streets while they are patrolling the campus. They report this, which is the second cross-burning incident at the site this month, to local police. Police arrest three men in connection with the incident and find Ku Klux Klan literature at the site.

February 25, 1870—Theodore L. Cuyler writes of visiting Princeton, “It still seems a little odd to reach the town by a ‘dummy’ engine, instead of the old traditional ‘Ross’s hack,’ which has dragged up all the living freight to Princeton for a quarter of a century” (i.e., in a train rather than a horse-drawn carriage).

Princeton as it appeared in 1870 with its train. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 91.

February 26, 1802—In the Newburyport Herald, “Jersey Girl” describes a young man’s vanity: “Camillus is lately in possession of a handsome fortune; and some mischievous animals, with penetration enough to discover that his ruling passion is the thirst of praise, have undertaken to apply the match to the train of vanity of which he is possessed, and have succeeded so well, that I am told he already, before strangers, makes use of the important words, ‘When I was at Princeton College,’ although he has never yet beheld the inside of Nassau Hall.”

February 27, 1900—The Daily Princetonian takes the Philadelphia Press to task for “yellow journalism” about the football team: “Such misrepresentations would be laughable, were they not imposed upon the public as the true views of Princeton men and did they not make the University appear ridiculous.”

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This Week in Princeton History for February 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Class of 1899 dons mourning clothes, protesters urge an end to sweatshop labor, and more.

February 15, 1899—To honor Ralph Wilson Simonds, formerly a member of their class, the Class of 1899 will wear mourning crépe for a period of twenty days beginning on this day. Simonds died fighting in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. Simonds is the third member of the Class of 1899 to have died before graduation; a fourth will follow a few months later.

February 16, 1999—About 250 protesters march from Firestone Plaza to Nassau Hall urging an end to sweatshop labor in the production of Princeton-licensed apparel.

Protesters march toward Nassau Hall to urge an end to sweatshop labor in the production of Princeton-licensed apparel. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

February 17, 1883—A number of students are delinquent on their poll tax payments.

February 19, 1985—The speech by former president Gerald Ford the Undergraduate Student Government attempted to arrange will not take place today because the administration has said Ford’s $13,500 honorarium is too expensive for a single speech.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Bric-a-Brac has a new cover, an employee at an eating club protests unfair treatment, and more.

February 9, 1931—The new Bric-a-Brac subscribers receive today has a new cover design.

Cover of 1931 Bric-a-Brac.

February 11, 1874—The Hampton Singers, a touring choir of African Americans, most of whom were formerly enslaved, perform in Princeton. (Sheet music for the songs typically sung by the choir—raising money for what will later be named Hampton University—are available online.) Their visit comes just a few days after a lecture by civil rights activist Wendell Phillips. Some students find themselves thinking about Phillips’s lecture during the concert.

February 13, 1940—An employee of a Princeton University eating club protests unfair treatment in a letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonian, citing unpaid overtime and a work schedule of 80 hours/week during the school year with no days off. “I think that all men should never work more than six days a week, but of course if the high class clubs (think they are) say you should work seven, then of course I’m wrong. I’ve always been told that a University was a place of higher education and culture, so why in the hell don’t they practice what they preach?”

February 14, 1803—The New York Daily Advertiser reports that Princeton students are focused on devotional practices: “In fact, the College is now what I have not known it to be before. One thing which is now particularly insisted on, and which seems to be readily acquiesced in, is a punctual attendance on religious duties. … The Freshmen and Sophomore classes read the Bible, and recite a catechism; but they are left at liberty to chuse [sic] the one of the church to which their parents belong–Accordingly some study the shorter catechism–some that of the Episcopal Church, and some that of the Friends or Quaker Society.”

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