This Week in Princeton History for March 6-12

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor wins an Oscar, Muhammad Ali talks about race and religion, and more.

March 6, 1993—Sharon Stone presents associate professor of computer science Patrick Hanrahan with an Academy Award for Science and Engineering for work done for Pixar prior to joining the Princeton faculty.

Patrick Hanrahan at Princeton University, June 17, 1991. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 223.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 27-March 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Colonial Club’s financial pressures force its closure, women march on Washington, and more.

February 28, 1946—Princeton University announces that women will live in student housing on campus for the first time, opening Brown Hall to married veterans after providing only single-gender accommodations at the institution for 200 years.

Couples arriving at Brown Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP166, Image No. 6055.

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Halle Berry on “Women, Race, and Film” (2000)

Fifteen years ago, Halle Berry made history as the first African American woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. A year and a half before her Oscar win, Halle Berry was the keynote speaker for a two-day conference at Princeton, “Imitating Life: Women, Race, and Film, 1932-2000.” We’ve recently digitized the video of her address.

Halle Berry, “Women, Race, and Film,” McCosh Hall, Princeton University, September 2000. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 203.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 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 Supreme Court justice visit ignites protest, the women’s squash team completes eight undefeated seasons, and more.

February 21, 1920—Princeton University holds a special graduation ceremony for students who missed their own but have now returned from war.

Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 6.

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The American Civil Liberties Union and the Fight Against Japanese American Internment

This Sunday marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the mass expulsion of Japanese Americans from the west coast of the United States. Specifically, the order allowed the Secretary of War to designate certain regions as “military areas” from which anyone could be expelled at the discretion of the Secretary or his commanders. The order, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt about ten weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was defended by the federal government as a wartime protection measure.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Arthur Garfield Hays echoed the opinion of others in the organization when he initially wrote to a peer about his tendency to approve the actions of the government during crises; however, he soon after came to the conclusion that “we are safer in the long run if the government recognizes constitutional limitations, even in time of war.” Despite similar debates between board members, the ACLU quickly responded to the executive order by issuing several statements to Roosevelt and to John L. DeWitt, the commanding general of the Western Defense Command. The ACLU’s statements condemned Executive Order 9066 as discriminatory, pointing not only to the blatant prejudice against Japanese Americans, but also to the legal inequality that the order bolstered. In particular, the ACLU referred to the fact that the House Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration (also known as the Tolan Committee), which conducted hearings in February and March 1942, recommended that German and Italian “alien residents” be afforded the chance to attest their loyalty to the United States before civilian boards– a recommendation that the committee did not extend to Japanese Americans.

First page of an ACLU letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt in reaction to Executive Order 9066. American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), Subgroup 1, Volume 2394.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 13-19

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor starts a controversial contraceptive hotline, the campus agrees on a method for resisting the British crown, and more.

February 13, 1967—Vassar’s debate team argues the merits of coeducation in Whig Hall. Vassar’s team, arguing that Princeton should educate women, wins by a vote of 36-11. Both single-gender schools will ultimately become fully coeducational in the same year (1969).

A member of the Vassar debate team makes her argument in Whig Hall, February 13, 1969. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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Integrating Princeton University: Robert Joseph Rivers ’53

As we have previously pointed out, Princeton’s first African American undergraduates were not purposefully admitted: they were instead brought as part of a Navy training program during World War II. In 1945, Trustee Laurence G. Payson wrote to fellow member of the Class of 1916 John McFerran Barr to explain the presence of black students in response to apparent objections. “When the personnel [for the Navy unit] arrived its members included, unbeknownst to us in advance, four negroes.” Meanwhile, a law requiring tax-exempt institutions not to discriminate on the basis of race had recently passed in New Jersey. “If Princeton were to stand against the negroes who were admitted under the Navy War-time ROTC the Trustees would be in a very difficult spot.” He explained that future African American applications for admission would be evaluated by administrators at Nassau Hall (i.e., the Office of the President) rather than by the Office of Admission, then headed by Dean Radcliffe Heermance. (Heermance had revoked one black student’s offer of admission in the 1930s when he showed up to register for classes and his race became apparent.) In spite of Princeton’s wariness of challenge to its traditions, one young local African American resident found the presence of black students at the prestigious university inspirational in its seeming promise of new possibilities.

James Everett Ward ’47 and Arthur Jewell Wilson ’47 outside Laughlin Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP215, Image No. 5644.

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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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