This Week in Princeton History for June 28-July 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a London magazine notes the impact of Prohibition on Princetonians, Yale offers condolences on the death of a rising senior, and more.

June 29, 1869—The American Whig Society celebrates its centennial.

July 2, 1927—The London Graphic reports on life at Princeton: “Before Prohibition, the Princeton ‘tigers’…were like German students in being noted beer-drinkers. Now their only relics of past prowess and happier days are their ‘beer-suits,’ which seniors wear for a special celebration on their return to ‘school.’”

July 3, 1891—Students from Yale write to students from Princeton to offer condolences on the death of Frederick Brokaw, Class of 1892, noting that Yalies and Princetonians attend college “with the same purpose and aim, the development of a manly Christian character…” Brokaw died trying to save three women from drowning at the Jersey Shore, and was known beyond Princeton as the baseball team’s catcher. The Yale baseball team will send a floral arrangement to Brokaw’s funeral.

Frederick Brokaw. Image from the 1892 Nassau Herald.

July 4, 1837—Independence Day is celebrated on campus “with unusual spirit,” including cannon salutes firing, a ceremonial procession to the Chapel, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and at least eight speeches throughout the course of the day.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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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.

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.