This Week in Princeton History for July 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Harriet van Ingen joins its geologists on a trip to Newfoundland, a fire means Commencement will have to find a new home, and more.

July 1, 1927—Princeton’s new “car rule,” which prohibits students from driving cars within the Borough of Princeton, takes effect.

July 3, 1913—Princeton geologists set sail for Newfoundland. Harriet Van Ingen, wife of professor Gilbert Van Ingen, is along to aid the expedition.

Harriet Van Ingen at the Princeton University geology expedition’s camp in Newfoundland, 1913. Department of Geosciences Records (AC139), Box 19.

July 4, 1937—Though fireworks-related deaths nationwide on this date reach a high of 563, a new statewide ban on private use of firecrackers is credited with preventing deaths in town.

July 6, 1835—Nassau Hall’s evening prayer service in the chapel is disrupted by a cry of “fire” from the street. Students flee, leaving College of New Jersey president James Carnahan standing at a pulpit in an empty room. It turns out that some leftover Independence Day fireworks have ignited at the nearby First Presbyterian Church, which is now engulfed in flames. The loss of the building is disruptive to college life, because it is typically used for Commencement and other events throughout the year.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, juniors take up roller skating when cars are banned, a fire forces the school to start over almost from scratch, and more.

March 2, 1927—In order to protest the new “car rule,” which bans student use of automobiles on campus, Princeton juniors take to roller skating. The New York Times reports on their activities, noting the posters the skaters pinned to their shirts, with various comic slogans, including “And Mama said I could.” Five of the skaters will be photographed for the March 13, 1927 issue of the New York Herald Tribune. Although their efforts capture national attention, ultimately the car rule will remain in effect for decades.


Three students with a car on campus, ca. 1920s, presumably before the ban on student use of automobiles. Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box SP14, Item No. 3412.

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