This Week in Princeton History for February 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Bric-a-Brac has a new cover, an employee at an eating club protests unfair treatment, and more.

February 9, 1931—The new Bric-a-Brac subscribers receive today has a new cover design.

Cover of 1931 Bric-a-Brac.

February 11, 1874—The Hampton Singers, a touring choir of African Americans, most of whom were formerly enslaved, perform in Princeton. (Sheet music for the songs typically sung by the choir—raising money for what will later be named Hampton University—are available online.) Their visit comes just a few days after a lecture by civil rights activist Wendell Phillips. Some students find themselves thinking about Phillips’s lecture during the concert.

February 13, 1940—An employee of a Princeton University eating club protests unfair treatment in a letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonian, citing unpaid overtime and a work schedule of 80 hours/week during the school year with no days off. “I think that all men should never work more than six days a week, but of course if the high class clubs (think they are) say you should work seven, then of course I’m wrong. I’ve always been told that a University was a place of higher education and culture, so why in the hell don’t they practice what they preach?”

February 14, 1803—The New York Daily Advertiser reports that Princeton students are focused on devotional practices: “In fact, the College is now what I have not known it to be before. One thing which is now particularly insisted on, and which seems to be readily acquiesced in, is a punctual attendance on religious duties. … The Freshmen and Sophomore classes read the Bible, and recite a catechism; but they are left at liberty to chuse [sic] the one of the church to which their parents belong–Accordingly some study the shorter catechism–some that of the Episcopal Church, and some that of the Friends or Quaker Society.”

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 February 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, house carpentry helps pay student expenses, Joline Hall opens, and more.

February 1, 1830—Philadelphia’s Christian Advocate reports that a student “with no relations to aid him, except a brother from whom he receives some clothing” is working his way through Princeton as a house carpenter.

February 2, 1988—Drinking at Eating Club sign-ins sends 7 to the hospital and 39 to the infirmary, drawing national media attention to Princeton. The Daily Princetonian will pronounce the events “an unqualified nightmare.”

February 3, 1933—Joline Hall opens, and its first residents are moving in.

Drawing of Joline Hall. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP52, Image No. 1840.

February 6, 1876—Students gather in the college Chapel to hear from internationally famed revivalists Dwight L. Moody and Ira David Sankey. Later reports say the visit inspired many students to engage in one-on-one evangelism among their peers.

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 November 30-December 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Henry Ward Beecher celebrates the football team’s defeat, Patrick Stewart lectures on campus, and more.

December 1, 1883—While preaching to his congregation in Brooklyn, Henry Ward Beecher says, “I stood yesterday to see Yale and Princeton at football. I always did hate Princeton, but I took notice there was not a coward on either side, although I thank God that Yale beat [them].”

December 2, 1811—John Randolph (Class of 1791) writes of his experiences at Princeton when he and his brother were both students:

[Samuel Stanhope Smith] called us into his library and interrogated us about our Indian descent—we knew nothing more than that we derived it through our grand-mother, whom it suited him to make the daughter of Pocahontas, in order that we might be in defiance of time and fact in the fourth descent from her. He gave us, about that time, a copy of his essay [on race], which now lies before me, with my marginal notes. I cannot think of Princeton (where my ardor for learning was first damped) with any sort of patience.


December 5, 1995—Patrick Stewart lectures on acting in Shakespeare’s plays at 185 Nassau. Because so many of the general public have lined up to see him, few students are able to attend, provoking discussions of ways to ensure students have the opportunity to have priority admission to high profile lectures. The venue, which seats 220, was chosen because Stewart does not like to use microphones and does not want to strain his voice.

Advertisement from Town Topics.

December 6, 1970—More than 90% of the membership of Tower Club vote in favor of allowing women to bicker (i.e., apply for membership). Treasurer Norris H. Bokum ’71 explains, “There was no valid reason to vary membership on the basis of sex.”

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 September 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, violence erupts at Commencement over politics, a student pitches the first known curve ball, and more.

September 23, 1947—A controversial chain letter begins sweeping the campus.

September 25, 1827—Princeton’s Commencement turns violent. Savannah’s Daily Georgian will report: “A vast crowd of citizens and strangers assembled, among whom was Samuel L. Southward Esq., Secretary of the U. States Navy, who is now on a visit to his friends in this state. … Although in general good order was observed, yet it is to be regretted that a number of acts of violence were committed; several blows passed between different parties of combatants; some were knocked down, and some, otherwise injured. The presidential question in some roused the parties and pushed them forward to pugilistic strife.”

September 26, 1863—In a game against the Philadelphia Athletics, Princeton’s Joseph P. Henry ’66 pitches what is claimed to be the first curve ball. The New York Clipper attributes Princeton’s 29-to-13 victory to this innovation: “In this match slow pitching with a great twist to the ball achieved a victory over swift pitching.”

Princeton’s 1863-1864 baseball team, officially known as the “Nassau Club” but better known on campus as the “Princeton Nine.” Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box LP26, Image No. 1978.

September 27, 1886—A letter to the editor of the Princetonian expresses concern about leaflets advertising board for students in town at a lower cost than can be offered through eating clubs potentially undermining the ability of some students to provide for themselves.

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 September 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, John Maclean defends the expulsion of students, Quadrangle Club opens, and more.

September 15, 1870—James McCosh interrupts a brawl between sophomores and freshmen on Nassau Street over canes with a shout of, “Disperse, young men, or the bailiffs will be after you.”

September 16, 1861—John Maclean writes to the editor of the New York Evening Post to explain the unpopular decision to expel some students from Princeton for attacking another student who had expressed sympathy for the Confederacy: The faculty “will not permit the utterance of sentiments denunciatory of those who are engaged in efforts to maintain the integrity of the national government; nor will they allow of any public expression of sympathy with those who are endeavoring to destroy the government,” but “it must be evident that the Faculty could not permit his fellow-students to take the law in their own hands…”

Pencil drawing of the parade local residents gave for the three students dismissed in the “Pumping Incident,” September 1861. Pyne-Henry Collection (AC125), Box 1, Folder 18.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 30-April 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library receives a new gift of F. Scott Fitzgerald correspondence, a campus publication rails against women’s suffrage, and more.

March 31, 1967— Charles Scribner Jr. ’43 presents the Princeton University Library with Charles Scribner’s Sons complete correspondence with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917.

An excerpt from a letter F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917, to Max Perkins, his editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, December 20, 1924:
“Hotel des Princes, Piazza di Spague, Rome.
“Dear Max:
“I’m a bit (not very–not dangerously) stewed tonight & I’ll probably write you a long letter. We’re living in a small, unfashionable but most comfortable hotel at $525.00 a month including tips, meals, etc. Rome does not particularly interest me but it’s a big year here, and early in the spring  we’re going to Paris. There’s no use telling you my plans because they’re usually just about as unsuccessful as to work as a religious prognosticater’s [sic] are as to the End of the World. Iv’e got a new novel to write–title and all, that’ll take about a year. Meanwhile, I don’t want to start it until this is out & meanwhile I”ll do short stories for money (I now get $2000.00 a story but I hate worse than hell to do them) and there’s the never dying lure of another play.
“Now! Thanks enormously for making up the $5000.00. I know I don’t technically deserve it considering I’ve had $3000.00 or $4000.00 for as long as I can remember. But since you force it on me (inexorable [or is it exorable] joke) I will accept it. I hope to Christ you get 10 times it back on Gatsby–and I think perhaps you will.” 
Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons (C0101); Manuscripts Division (Firestone Library), Department of Special Collections.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, wives are organizing for women’s rights, a new eating club is organized for those looking for something less expensive, and more.

February 17, 1970—Elaine Showalter and Molly Oates, wives of Princeton faculty, lead a discussion of women’s rights in the Old Graduate College Common Room at a meeting of the local chapter of the National Organization of Women. The group of 40 is seeking opportunity to match their educations and abilities. Oates: “Women are unpaid servants of the institution for which a husband works—they entertain and bake cookies. A woman’s position is determined by her husband’s.”

Elaine Showalter, ca. 1990s. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series 9 (AC067), Box 17. Showalter was teaching at Douglass College (Rutgers University) in 1970. She joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1984. For more on faculty wives and their advocacy for broadening women’s roles on campus, see our previous blog post on this topic.

February 21, 1871—A group of women puts on a minstrel show. It is so popular among Princetonians that they are invited back for an encore in March.

February 22, 1998—David Milanaik ’98 gives a presentation entitled “Jew Man Group” about his conversion to evangelical Christianity to a small group of students at Forbes Theater. Milanaik has sparked controversy on campus due to his partnership with Jews for Jesus.

February 23, 1941—Members of the Class of 1943 organize Prospect Cooperative Club, a less expensive option for students who cannot afford Princeton’s traditional eating clubs.

Prospect Cooperative Club, ca. 1942. Photo from 1943 Bric-a-Brac.

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 February 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the last winter Commencement is held, a woman successfully bickers an Eating Club for the first time, and more.

February 3, 1949—Princeton holds its sixth and last winter Commencement, presenting 274 degrees. Frank Osborn, Class of 1910, tells the assembled graduates, “we are forced to realize that the world is a dangerous place to live in. That’s a new idea for my generation. We don’t like it.”

Frank Osborn with Harold Dodds at Princeton University’s Feburary 2, 1949 Winter Commencement. Photo from Princeton Alumni Weekly, March 19, 1949. Osborn’s speech can be found in the Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115).

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This Week in Princeton History for November 27-December 3

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, undergraduates protest the presence of African Americans in chapel, a computer virus is spreading all over campus, and more.

November 28, 1868—Students at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) begin circulating a petition to ban African Americans from chapel exercises after James McCosh allows a black student from Princeton Theological Seminary to attend his lectures on the life of Jesus, but few faculty are willing to sign it and McCosh remains unmoved.

Clipping from New York Tribune, December 8, 1868. The relevant portion reads as follows: “A young man (colored), of fine abilities and address, a graduate of a Western college, and at present a student of the Theological Seminary of this place, has dared to present himself at the College Chapel on Sunday afternoon for the purpose of listening to the President’s [McCosh’s] lectures without the permission of the sympathizers of the ‘Lost Cause,’ who feeling themselves deeply injured are now circulating a protest, which being duly signed, will be presented to the Faculty protesting against the further privilege of colored men entering the Chapel during any Chapel exercise. Thus far no movement has been made by the more liberal minded against this pernicious protest, for they have confidence in the good sense of the Faculty, and believe that such an article will be treated by them with contempt.”

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This Week in Princeton History for July 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a court ruling forces two eating clubs to accept women, a Yugoslavian king is on campus, and more.

July 3, 1990—The New Jersey Supreme Court rules in Frank v. Ivy Club that the last two male-only eating clubs at Princeton must admit women. Sally Frank ’80 initially filed her suit in 1979. The Princeton University Archives holds two collections documenting this case: those of Frank’s co-counsel and a general collection of materials related to the case.

Photo from 1990 Bric-a-Brac. At the time of the Bric-a-Brac‘s publication, Frank’s legal battles were ongoing.

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