This Week in Princeton History for February 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 first woman ever to enroll defends her dissertation, the town decides not to rely exclusively on students to fight fires, and more.

February 6, 1975—The Borough of Princeton installs a traffic light at the corner of Washington Road and Prospect Avenue, in front of 1879 Hall.

New traffic light at Washington Road and Prospect Avenue, February 1975. Photo from Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 30-February 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, an investigation of a masked swordsman begins, a graduate carries the Olympic torch, and more.

January 30, 1805—The faculty of the College of New Jersey meet “to make inquiry concerning a mask & sword with which a person has been seen several times in the entries of the College.”

February 1, 1884—The Princetonian quotes Andrew Wilkins Wilson, Jr. of the Class of 1883 on the school’s decision to establish a rowing crew: “In my opinion (as well as in that of almost our entire class) it is a pure waste of time, money and muscle for Princeton to compete with other colleges on the water.”

February 2, 1933—Cold and snow stop the Nassau Hall bell tower clock with the hands frozen at 10:44AM, but exams proceed on schedule because the bells are rung manually.

Nassau Hall, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8576.

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“A Haven for Radicalism, Intolerance, and Lesbianism”: The Ongoing Struggle for an LGBTQ+-Inclusive Princeton

Mudd Library’s University Administrative Fellow for the fall 2016-2017 semester curated an online HistoryPin exhibit to document the history of minority sexualities at Princeton University. In this post, she provides broader context for the materials she chose to highlight.

By Ariana Natalie Myers GS

For much of its history, Princeton University students who experienced attraction toward their own gender kept it secret. Some alumni were later outed as homosexuals, such as Alan Turing ’38 (GS), famed World War II cryptographer who was the victim of brutal punishment by the British government once his sexuality was uncovered. Kirk LeMoyne Lem” Billings ’39, onetime roommate of President John F. Kennedy at Princeton and close associate of the Kennedy family, was outed by friends after his death in 1981.

Princeton University opened its doors to female undergraduates in 1969, and the first 130 women moved in for the fall semester. The decision-making process and its aftermath was fraught with controversy, with concerns ranging from the presumed “unproductivity” of female alumni to the costs of campus expansion to the anticipated loss of Princeton’s “unique charisma” and “manly dedication.” Many of those opposed to coeducation coalesced into the organization Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP). Proponents of coeducation argued that the proximity of women would decrease homosexuality. This latter position was tacitly supported by Dr. Louis E. Reik ‘33, University Director of Mental Health, and his associate Dr. Willard Dalrymple, Director of University Health Services, in an interview with the Daily Princetonian in 1966 in which Reik stated that a “tendency which was latent before might well be strengthened here” (on a single-gender campus). In a subsequent interview with Dr. Reik in 1969, he contradicted his prior statements and argued that coeducation would not have a notable effect on homosexuality, since he considered that it developed before the age students typically attended college.

Photo from Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 23-29

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a drawing is held for room assignments in a new dorm, the basketball team plays its first game ever, and more.

January 23, 1767—Jonathan Baldwin secures an affidavit from Job Stockton to defend himself against accusations that he has defrauded the College of New Jersey of about 30 pounds of mutton. “Tho’ I have been employed ten years in buying and providing for the college, this is the first instance, in which I have been charged with this surprising facility, in being imposed upon in my bargains,” Baldwin writes.

January 24, 1898—Students participate in a drawing to secure lodging in the newly-built Blair Hall. Rents range from $200-$300 per year including meals.

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Blair Hall, ca. 1897. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP04, Image No. 69.

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Ask Mr. Mudd: “Levee Song” and Princeton’s Minstrel Shows

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

Is it true that the University of Texas school song, “The Eyes of Texas,” has a Princeton University connection? Where did the song come from, and why don’t Princeton students sing it anymore?

A. “The Eyes of Texas” is set to a tune best known today as “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Both use a melody first published as “Levee Song” in the College of New Jersey (Princeton)’s songbook, Carmina Princetonia, in 1894. With the new lyrics as “The Eyes of Texas,” the song was first published in The University of Texas Community Songbook in 1918.

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Carmina Princetonia, 1894. Princeton Music Collection (AC056), Box 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 16-22

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a riot paralyzes the campus, a senior performs for the U.S. president, and more.

January 18, 1893—The faculty approve a resolution ending supervision of exams, provided that students sign a pledge stating that they have “neither given nor received aid” during the test.

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First exam given at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) under the Honor Code, January 26, 1893. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 5, Folder 20.

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New Year’s Greetings

By Xinxian Cynthia Zheng GS

In the first post in this two-part series about a file of 72 “Chinese New Year cards” I found in the Princeton University Library Records (AC 123), I wrote about the Christmas and New Year’s greetings sent by sent by missionaries and non-profit organizations to Dr. Nancy Lee Swann (1881–1966), one of the first female scholars of Chinese history who served as the curator of Princeton’s East Asian Library between 1931 and 1948. In this post, I will examine how scholars who sent cards to Swann appealed to shared literacy in Chinese historical anecdotes between senders and recipients to strengthen ties among colleagues.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 9-15

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Dod Hall opens, Albert Einstein attends the first Jewish services on campus, and more.

January 9, 1891—The Daily Princetonian reports that Dod Hall has opened.

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Dod Hall, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP38, Image No. 1103.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the nation mourns Claiborne Pell, the Triangle Club loses their rehearsal space, and more.

January 2, 1884—Physics professor Cyrus Brackett testifies as an expert witness in a lawsuit between American Bell Telephone Company and the Peoples Telephone Company, one in a series known as the “telephone cases” in which the Supreme Court will rule on who should own the inventor’s patent to the telephone.

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Cyrus Brackett, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photograph Series (AC059), Box FAC12.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 26-January 1

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Christmas holiday is extended to 9:45AM, a graduate eulogizes George Washington, and more.

December 26, 1944—The President of Princeton University generously allows for an extension of the Christmas holiday, dismissing students from classes that meet at 7:45 and 8:45AM. Classes resume at 9:45AM.

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