This Week in Princeton History for November 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students are setting fashion trends in nearby New York, alumni are memorialized, and more.

November 16, 1928—Lynn Carrick, Class of 1920, observes that current students are now setting fashion trends in New York.

Suffice it to point to such obvious departures from tradition as that black socks have been superseded by hose of kaleidoscopic flamboyance, that high shoes now excite derision, and that the emancipated male has acquired a plethora of new accoutrements which if worn on campus a decade ago would have been the cause of catcalls and abusive whistling and much leaning out of dormitory windows; and the articles which would have offended that austerer age are such innocent haberdashery as colored handkerchiefs, silk mufflers, spats, canes, yellow gloves, pastel shirts, and ice-cream suitings.

November 18, 1900—A memorial service is held in Murray Hall to commemorate the lives of George Y. Taylor, Class of 1882, and C. V. R. Hodge ’93, who died in the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Memorial tablet for George Yardley Taylor (Class of 1882) and Cortland Van Rensselater Hodge (Class of 1893), Marquand Chapel, Princeton University, ca. 1901. Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC104), Box 218.

November 19, 1804—A controversial resolution is proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives to exempt colleges from duty taxes on books and scientific equipment if purchased for their sole use for educational purposes. Rep. Samuel L. Mitchill of New York, who introduces the bill, says the motivation is that Princeton is expecting a large shipment of books from Europe and will be subject to paying duty taxes on them otherwise.

November 20, 1863—All of Princeton is reportedly dissatisfied with local train service:

The farmer, the mechanic, the merchant, the scholar who is not cloistered, the clergyman who goes from home, the professional man—the public man, the private gentleman, all join in speaking not with pride and satisfaction of “our railroad” as other communities speak of their railroads, but with sober and earnest dissatisfaction—nay, indignation at the treatment which Princeton has received in the matter of railroad facilities for years and years past.

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.

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.

This Week in Princeton History for June 10-16

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a delayed cookie shipment arrives, Commencement moves to a new home, and more.

June 12, 1996—Cookies mailed to Princeton-in-Asia intern Laura Burt on November 1, 1995 finally arrive unopened in Wuhan, China.

June 13, 1894—Commencement Exercises are moved from the First Presbyterian Church (which will later be renamed Nassau Presbyterian Church) to the new Alexander Hall (also known as Commencement Hall) for the first time, where they will be held until 1922.

The 1894 program for the College of New Jersey’s 147th annual Commencement (later named Princeton University but we often find “Princeton College” on official documents rather than its official name; see caption below for June 15th’s entry for more details. (Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 3.)

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This Week in Princeton History for February 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, hazing makes national headlines, McCarter Theater opens, and more.

February 18, 1878—During a particularly severe outbreak of hazing, a gunfight breaks out on Nassau Street between freshmen and sophomores, with one student being shot in the thigh. Coverage in the national Police Gazette will follow.

Full-page ad from the Daily Princetonian.

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Celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day in the “Chinese” Way

By Xinxian Cynthia Zheng GS

Recently, I found a file of 72 “Chinese New Year cards” in the Princeton University Library Records (AC 123). Looking through them, I saw that they were a syncretic fusion of Chinese and Western elements, rather than the kind of Chinese New Year cards I usually receive from friends now. Dated between 1935 and 1942, many of these “Chinese” cards came from non-Chinese Westerners—some were book collectors and art connoisseurs, while others were individuals with non-profit organizations. They were sent to Dr. Nancy Lee Swann (1881–1966), one of the first female scholars of Chinese history who served as the curator of what became Princeton’s East Asian Library between 1931 and 1948.

Intriguingly, the existence of these “Chinese” cards suggests Chinese elements became part of the consumption culture of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day for some in the Americas. Beginning in the nineteenth century, people increasingly romanticized the two religious festivals and made them the rites of selling and buying, as Leigh Schmidt has detailed in Consumer Rites. Just as individual tastes varied in Christmas shopping, these “Chinese” cards also show significant diversity. They came in various sizes, ranging from a greeting on letter size paper to a small card of 5 × 2.75 inches. The cards employed metaphors from Chinese arts and classics in the personalized envelopes, cover illustrations, and greeting messages. Depending on the social context and the sender’s relationship with the recipient, individual authors used elements of Chinese culture as tools to socialize with colleagues, pay respect to friends, convey messages of religious teaching, send off encouragement and good wishes, and reinforce the effect of fundraising. This blog post is the first in a two-part series about these cards. Here, the focus is on cards blending Eastern and Western themes in cards from religious groups and non-profit organizations. Next month, I will highlight the imagery Chinese scholars used in corresponding with Princeton’s librarian.

Because many senders were corresponding overseas from China, their envelopes often presented combinations of Chinese and English, which may appear exotic to our audience today. As the envelope below shows on the front, the staff of the National Committee of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Shanghai used a five-sent stamp issued by the Chinese Post Office in memory of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China. On the back of the envelope, the sender rendered the return address in Shanghai in both Chinese and English.

Because many senders were corresponding overseas from China, their envelopes often presented combinations of Chinese and English. As the envelope above shows on the front, the staff of the National Committee of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Shanghai used a five-sent stamp issued by the Chinese Post Office in memory of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China. On the back of the envelope, the sender rendered the return address in Shanghai in both Chinese and English.

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Marines and Chinese armies in Peking

(This is our fifth post about the films of diplomat John Van Antwerp MacMurray. See the first post for more background.)

When watching MacMurray’s peaceful films of China, it is easy to forget that the country was torn by civil war for most of the time he served as minister. The films labeled “Peking Misc(ellaneous) I-II,” serve as a reminder. The first film opens with drills of the U.S. Marines of the Legation Guard, who protected the legation and, in emergencies, American citizens. In addition, the second film contains elaborate, rare footage of Nationalist troops, which may have been shot during the “capture”  of Peking in June 1928 that ended the Nationalists’ Northern Campaign and left Chiang Kai-shek and his party in control of the country.

Above: Newspaper clipping from June 18, 1928, about a break-in by Nationalist soldiers of Ta Pei Ssu, a temple leased by MacMurray. MC094, Box 104.

According to a newspaper clipping in MacMurray’s papers, Nationalist soldiers broke into the ‘Ta Pa Ssu’ temple in the Western Hills, which was leased by the MacMurray family. (For more on temple renting, see our previous entry.) Fear of looting and violence against foreigners, as had occurred during the Nationalist capture of Nanking in March 1927, was widespread. These fears proved unfounded, however, as can be read in My Life in China, the memoirs of Hallett Abend, a reporter for the New York Times. After negotiations with the foreign legations, the generals of the armies that surrounded the city agreed that Chang Tso-lin, the Manchurian warlord in control of Peking, would be allowed to leave the city, while his best-disciplined troops stayed behind to retain order. When General Yen Hsi-shan’s troops entered the city through the South Gate, Chang’s troops would exit through the Northeast gate. Does MacMurray’s footage capture these events?

The first film opens with a visit of presumably Admiral Clarence Williams, commander in chief of the US Asiatic Fleet (1:09), and a parade by the Marines of the Legation Guard. (The naval officers with bicorn hats (0:53) are not identified). The footage continues with a long series of drills, in which the Marines are simulating their defense of the Legation Quarter: first, the gates are closed and mounted Marines are sent out to “rescue” Americans (1:39), while heavy machine guns and supplies are retrieved from the armory with two wheel carts (2:01). This is followed by artillery drill practice from the Tartar Wall (2:30). The remainder of the film shows various Peking sites, including Beihai Park, and footage of Peking in snow. In addition, the film contains street and market scenes and shots of musicians and performers.


The second film continues with local scenes of Peking and its surroundings, including a funeral procession (0:12), street and market scenes, ice skating (2:21), and the selling and burning of incense at a temple (4:34). The footage that may capture the entry of Nationalist soldiers in Peking starts at 7:14.

MacMurray filmed an encounter with an unidentified military officer (7:58), groups of vehicles and packed camels, and armed and unarmed troops (8:38, 8:43, 8:54, 9:13, 9:19, 9:35), wearing different armbands and on two occasions carrying different flags (8:38 and 8:54). Filming the groups from different locations, MacMurray appears to have sought a variety of military and uniformed groups, alternating with shots of onlookers and guards. Of particular interest are the men with straw hats wearing armbands with Guomindang stars (9:35). The film ends with footage of a soldier raising the Nationalist flag (10:15), and a scene at a train station, with soldiers leaving on an open car (10:22). The brief footage following, shot aboard a boat, does not seem to be related.

The footage leaves many questions. Did MacMurray film this on June 8 1928, the day that the Nationalist troops entered the city, or was it spread over a few days? Who was the military officer who gets so much attention (the fourth from the left in the picture here)? What do the two flags at 8:38 and 8:54 indicate, and what is the meaning of the different armbands, which were often used to differentiate between forces and units (8:38, 9:19, 9:36)? Ultimately, who are the troops in the end, leaving by train? When the Manchurian troops, who had been promised safe conduct, evacuated the city, they were surrounded and disarmed by the soldiers of a subordinate general, Han Fu-chu. The incident required the intervention of the diplomatic corps. Is any of this footage related to that? If you are able to shed any light on the films, we would love hear from you!

Our thanks to Dirk Haig for his explanation of the Marine drills, Shuwen Cao for her identifications of local scenes, and Edward McCord for his information about Chinese uniforms, armbands, and flags.

Previous posts about the films of John Van Antwerp MacMurray:

Renting a temple in the Western Hills

(This is our fourth post about the films of diplomat John Van Antwerp MacMurray. See the first post for more background.)

Detail of MacMurray’s German map of the Peking surroundings. The Pa Ta Ch’u valley, with Ta Pei Ssu, the temple rented by MacMurray (no. 41) is shown at the left of the center above Mo shi Kou.

To escape the heat and air of the city, diplomats in Peking (Beijing) spent their weekends and summers in the Western Hills, the hilly region to the northwest of Peking, where they often “rented a temple.” During his previous time in Peking as Secretary to the Legation (1913-1917), MacMurray expressed his love for the Hills in hundreds of photographs of the area’s temples and scenery. When he returned in 1925, he focused his motion picture camera on people instead. In addition to family and friends, MacMurray filmed village and rural scenes during various trips in the Hills, where transport was often by donkey. MacMurray labeled the films himself, but did not provide any identifications. Some of the scenes are shot at Ta Pei Ssu, a temple in the Pa Ta Ch’u valley, where MacMurray and his family leased living quarters.

Lease of living quarters at Ta Pei Ssu for 1926-1927. The other half was kept by the temple’s administration (translation at TaPeiSsutransl.pdf).

The first film includes unidentified views and local scenes, villagers performing manual labor, donkeys and camels and their drivers, and views of the hills covered in snow. The footage also features a trip to the Ming tombs.

This film includes some family and temple scenes, probably at Ta Pei Ssu. In addition, the film includes street and village scenes, as well as footage of carriers, laborers, pig herders, and other villagers.

Miao Feng Shan (“Marvelous Peak Mountain”) was a popular pilgrimage site about 30 miles northwest of Peking. On October 23, 1928 MacMurray wrote his mother that the family was taking their guest, the artist Lilian (“Jack”) Miller, on a five-day trip in the Western Hills to Lung Ch’uan Ssu, Miao Feng Shan, Ti Shui Yen, and T’an Che Ssu. MacMurray must have shot this film during this trip. The film includes views of the Summer Palace northwest of Beijing, but the scenes following are not identified. The last part of this film seems to have been shot while climbing Miao Feng Shan.

The fragments on this reel include images of MacMurray’s children, Joan and Frank, and a guest riding donkeys in the Western Hills, possibly Lilian (“Jack”) Miller.

This brief film opens with camels and a camel herder, followed by a man who seems to be the storyteller at Chieh Tai-Ssu (a temple in the Western Hills), mentioned on the film reel label. The footage ends with a small boat being pulled across a stream.

Previous posts about the films of John Van Antwerp MacMurray:

A diplomat’s trip along the Yangtze River, 1928

(This is our third post about the films of diplomat John Van Antwerp MacMurray. See the first post for more background.)

On February 24, 1928, MacMuray, his Chinese secretary, and a naval attaché started a six-week trip along the Yangtze (Yangzi) river to inspect consulates and ports between Tsingtao (Qingdao) and Chungking. MacMurray, who took his camera along, painstakingly listed the ships, ports, and towns he filmed in passing, as well as the treacherous rapids and gorges between Shasi and Kweifu (Yangtszelists.pdf). “This Upper Yangtze trip is the most beautiful I have ever made,” he wrote his mother on March 13. The three films that MacMurray shot aboard four ships are featured here. The only reference to the political context of the films is an inconspicuous boat that represented, according to MacMurray’s notes, the “American Consulate at Nanking, temporarily at Chinkiang.” Since its capture in March 1927, Nanking (Nanjing) had been the capital of the Nationalist Party, which was, by the time of MacMurray’s trip, in control of most of South China. During the trip, MacMurray met the Nationalist Party’s foreign minister Huang (Hwang) Fu, and negotiated a settlement of the “Nanking incident,” an outburst of anti-foreign sentiments during the capture of Nanking one year before. This would pave the way for the Tariff Treaty of July 25, 1928, which,  one month after the Nationalists took control of Peking, was a de facto recognition of the Nationalist regime of China.

Above: “The American Consulate at Nanking, temporarily at Chinkiang.” Photo printed on a postcard to MacMurray’s mother on May 13, 1928. (Click to enlarge.) John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers (MC094), Box 26.


MacMurray’s first “Yangtsze” film begins with some brief footage in Tsinanfu, followed by outdoor scenes in Tsingtao, where administrator general Chao Chi (Zhao Qi) took MacMurray, who loved dogs, to a training session of police dogs (1:15). The destroyer USS Noa took MacMurray’s party to Shanghai, where they boarded the USS Isabel a few days later to sail to Chinkiang (Zhenjiang), and to Anking (Anqing). In Chinkiang the group paid a visit to Silver Island (Jiao Shan, 4:34), where MacMurray filmed temple scenes and a paper rubbing shop. At Chinkiang harbor MacMurray captured the Standard Oil house boat, mentioned above, where the American Consulate at Nanking was temporarily based (3:55). In Anking the party boarded SS Kungwo to Hankow (Hankou), where they were joined by Consul-General Frank Lockhart for the remainder of the journey to Chungking. The journey between Hankow and Chungking and back to Hankow (March 8-22) was traveled on river gunboat USS Guam with Admiral Yates Stirling, commander of the Yangtze Patrol. After passing Shashi and the Tiger’s Tooth Gorge, the film ends with harbor and street scenes in Ichang, where MacMurray and his party arrived on March 11.


The second Yangztze film documents the journey through the Yangtze Gorges on the upper river between Ichang and the city at the other end of the Gorges, known as Kweifu (now called Fengjie Xian). The footage ends with salt boiling at Kweifu (11:07) and some riverbank scenes with gondola-like boats that, according to MacMurray in a postcard to his mother, were native to Kweifu.


The contents of “Yangtsze III,” which continues the journey to Chungking, are not listed by MacMurray. During a stop, possibly at Wanhsien (Wanxian), MacMurray filmed the building of a boat, as well as some other riverbank scenes (2:54). The footage that follows includes a close up of MacMurray’s party with Admiral Yates Stirling (4:56), under whose command the USS Guam was sailing. Upon arrival in Chungking the party apparently visited local warlord Liu Hsiang (Liu Xiang 5:40). Subsequent footage contains street scenes and the waterfront of Chungking. The Yangtze footage that follows was filmed on the way back to Hankow. It includes the Precious Stone Rock (Shibaozhai) in Zhong Xian, a steep natural rock with pagoda that was passed on the Northern river bank.

Right: Liu Hsiang, photo portrait in the John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers (MC094), Box 120.


Previous posts about the films of John Van Antwerp MacMurray:

Trip to attend the reinterment of Sun Yat-sen, 1929

(This is our second post about the films of diplomat John Van Antwerp MacMurray.  See the first post for more background.)

Foreign representatives accompanying the bier. Detail from a 9 feet long print of the procession. (Click to enlarge.) John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers (MC094), Box 81, Folder 5.

On June 1, 1929, the body of Sun Yat-sen, leader of the Nationalist Party, who died and was buried in Peking (Beijing) in 1925, was reinterred in a new mausoleum in Nanking (Nanjing). The newly established Nationalist government invited the foreign diplomats in Peking (Beijing) to attend the ceremony. Two of the three films that MacMurray labeled “Peking I-III’ turn out to capture the trip to Nanking in the “ministers train” and back. Although MacMurray did not film the ceremony itself, “Peking II” includes rare footage of the procession of Sun’s body from his original burial place to the train station in Peking. The films below are shown in reverse order (III, II, I), as it appears MacMurray mis-numbered the films.


This film begins with scenes in Beihai Park in Peking, which include footage of soldiers, followed by local sites and scenes, including the Summer Palace. It ends with footage of who we believe is José Gallostra y Coello de Portugal, the secretary of the Spanish legation. During the train trip Gallostra drew caricatures of his colleagues, which he published in a satirical journal for French expatriates in Peking. MacMurray, whose caricature is shown on the left, sent a copy to his chief Stanley Hornbeck, with the comment that Gallostra had a “genius for caricature and an irrepressible spirit of mockery” (19 July, 1929). In the film featured here, Gallostra, who is impersonating different characters, seems to be mimicking the prescribed behavior of the diplomatic representatives when paying their last respects to Sun Yat-sen. During a ceremony on May 31, prior to the reinterment, each minister placed a wreath at the foot of the dais at the headquarters of the Nationalist Party, where the embalmed body lay in state. The three bows while moving forward and backward can be found in descriptions of the ceremony. (Our thanks to Shuwen Cao, East Asian Library, Princeton University for clarifying this).


The second film in the series begins with village scenes in the Western Hills, where diplomats and their families spent much of their free time. The film includes footage of MacMurray and his family, probably at the temple Ta Pei Ssu, where they leased living accommodations. MacMurray filmed additional street and temple scenes, followed by a local fair and other village scenes.

After footage of MacMurray’s children in costumes, the film continues with the procession of Sun Yat-sen’s body passing by the Legation Quarter (Dongjiaominxiang) on its way to the Peking train station on May 26, 1929 (6:24). It is followed by the departure of the foreign representatives in the “Ministers train” on the following day (7:56). Close-ups include the French minister Damien de Martel (7:56) and the Dutch minister W.J. Oudendijk, doyen of the diplomatic corps, standing next to José Gallostra, who is drawing in a sketchbook (8:06). The film ends with a train stop at Taianfu.


The third film continues the previous footage on the Taianfu station and includes harvesting scenes that were filmed along the Jinpu railroad on the way to Nanking. The brief footage of Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum (0:28) was shot prior to the funeral, as MacMurray did not film the official ceremony. This is followed by street scenes in Nanking, where MacMurray filmed silk thread making and other local scenes.

The footage after this seems to have been shot at the Nanking harbor (Xiaguan), as the train station in Pukou was on the other side of the Yangzi River (1:18). The next scenes were filmed during train stops on the way back to Peking and include the Lianghsiatien (Liangxiadian) station (the man in bathrobe (1:59) is believed to be Italian minister and author Daniele Varè), as well as agricultural scenes, and local musicians. The film ends with a children’s scene in the garden of the US legation in Peking.

MacMurray’s films of China, 1925-1929

American diplomat John Van Antwerp MacMurray (1881-1960) began filming in 1925, two years after Kodak introduced the Cine-Kodak Motion Picture camera, which made production and display of motion pictures possible for amateurs. The John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers at Mudd Manuscript Library contain twenty-eight silent 16mm films, which MacMurray shot while serving as Minister to China (1925-1929). Although the country was divided by civil war and Nationalists took control of Peking (Beijing) in June 1928, the films are not political in nature. They contain street and other local scenes in Peking, the Western Hills, and other places that MacMurray visited. A finding aid to the John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers at Mudd Manuscript Library may be found at .


MacMurray shot the first film that is featured here during a visit with his wife and sister to the Northern city of Kalgan (Zhangjiakou) at the Great Wall of China, the gateway to Mongolia. They accompanied the American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews and his excavation team between Kalgan and Changpeh (Zhangbei) through the Wanchuang (Wanzhuang) pass. Andrews had led a series of expeditions in the Gobi Desert in the 1920s. In 1928, however, rogue soldiers and brigands made access impossible, hence MacMurray had to secure passage by calling upon the assistance of local warlord Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin). The film captures the exit of the crew of 37 people, eight cars and 150 camels from Kalgan on April 16, 1928, escorted by 50 Chinese cavalrymen. In addition, MacMurray filmed local scenes in Kalgan and on the way to the Wanchuang pass.

Although there is extensive correspondence with Roy Chapman Andrews in the John Van Antwerp MacMurray papers, there are no exchanges about this particular event. A description of the expedition can be found in Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions by Charles Gallenkamp (2001).