Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton

By Michelle Peralta

This academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the decision of the Board of Trustees to admit women to Princeton as undergraduates. To celebrate this landmark, the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library is pleased to present “Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton.”

Michelle Peralta measuring and selecting materials for inclusion in “Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton.” Photo by April C. Armstrong.

Maria Katzenbach ‘76 gave an account of some of the hostility she encountered as member of one earliest co-educational classes:

I am certain that he expected me to nod in agreement and accept my responsibility for having destroyed his alma mater. I should leave him alone in his paradise of men, and not go where I was not wanted… I didn’t like being taken for Eve, and blamed for being one to deprive him of paradise because my own pursuit of knowledge had led me to my father’s school…I should have known reason had nothing to do with it. He was no more interested in expanding his horizons than Adam. His garden was gone, and I was responsible. 

quoted in Women Reflect About Princeton, edited by Kirsten Bibbins, Anne Chiang, and Heather Stephenson (1989)

I curated the exhibition with a few themes in mind: 1) the activism that push through staid traditions, beloved though they may have be, and 2) the changes that came about with the admittance of women, many a result of the aforementioned activism, helped to create the modern Princeton campus. The themes are explored through such areas of as academics, athletics, but also in student groups and organizations like the Women’s center. Also highlighted are early women of Princeton and the decision to become an co-educational campus, as well as the intersectional identities of many women that have shaped their student experiences at Old Nassau.

“Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton” will be on display at Mudd Manuscript Library through the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War

A new exhibition is opening at Mudd Library on November 9 at 4:30PM. “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War” examines higher education in wartime at Princeton and beyond from the French and Indian War to the Vietnam War.

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A gallery of behind-the-scenes photos of our work on the new exhibition.

Since its founding, Princeton University has been shaped by every major war, whether it took place on American soil or halfway around the world. Most colleges and universities in the United States have had to address their role during wartime. Traditional college students are at the prime age of enlistment, and when war loomed, academic institutions looked for the best ways to continue to educate students while also preparing them for combat. The Princeton community has borne the demands of conflict from the colonial period forward. Through the Princeton University Archives and the collections of the Public Policy Papers, this exhibition reviews how education and the pursuit of knowledge evolved over the span of 200 years through the lens of a series of wars.

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A gallery of selected exhibition highlights.

This exhibition will be on display through Reunions 2018.

Lobby Exhibit Highlights Some of Princeton’s Connections to Slavery

A small exhibit currently on display in the lobby of Mudd Library contains archival material highlighting Princeton’s connections to slavery. The exhibit includes an offer of financial support on the condition that students be admitted “irrespective of Color” rejected by the Board of Trustees in 1835 and an 1861 note in a student’s autograph book signed “Though your deadly foe in public I am in private life your friend,” among other items.

Office of the President Records (AC117), Box 23, Folder 5.

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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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“Building the House of Knowledge:” The Graduate College Centennial

A new exhibition that opens at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library on Sept. 16, 2013, chronicles the events and decisions framing the development of America’s first graduate residential college.

Procter Hall view: The centerpiece of the Graduate College, Procter Hall and the beautiful stained glass Great West Window looking towards the Cleveland Memorial Tower, ca. 1913

Procter Hall view: The centerpiece of the Graduate College, Procter Hall and the beautiful stained glass Great West Window looking towards the Cleveland Memorial Tower, ca. 1913

Marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of Princeton’s Graduate College, “Building the House of Knowledge:” The Graduate College Centennial is filled with letters, documents and photographs from Princeton’s University Archives that reveal the story of how the concept of resident graduate education went from an inspired idea to a grand achievement, but not without significant controversy that brought nationwide attention to Princeton.

A view from behind the monumental statue of Andrew Fleming West, erected in the Graduate College quad in the 1920s, looking toward the Cleveland Memorial Tower. West was the first Dean of the Graduate School and driving force behind building the Graduate College.  Cleveland Tower was built as the national monument for President Grover Cleveland, who retired to Princeton after leaving the White House, and was a University trustee and supporter of graduate education.

A view from behind the monumental statue of Andrew Fleming West, erected in the Graduate College quad in the 1920s, looking toward the Cleveland Memorial Tower.

Beginning with the desire for a residential graduate program expressed at Princeton’s Sesquicentennial celebrations, the exhibition reveals the initial agreement of University President Woodrow Wilson and Dean of the Graduate School Andrew Fleming West on the plans for building the Graduate College. Early on, however, disagreements over the use of endowment funding and an appropriate location for the new Graduate College led to battle lines being drawn—with faculty and trustees viewed as being on either Dean West’s or President Wilson’s side. Reports and letters from West, Wilson, and eminent trustees such as Moses Taylor Pyne and former U.S. President Grover Cleveland reveal elements of the dissension developing at the administrative level. Letters from significant Graduate College benefactor and alumnus William C. Procter, Class of 1883 and of Procter and Gamble fame, show how directed endowment bequests played a role in the controversy. These letters and reports focus on how endowment funding and bequests and the choice of a site for the residential building contributed to the heated debate, and possibly influenced the resignation of President Wilson.

Photographs from the archives detail some of the architectural plans and ultimate construction of the Graduate College 17 years after the vision of resident graduate education was first presented. A final case shows photographs of later additions to the original Graduate College in the 1920s and 1960s as increased enrollment pressures necessitated adding rooms to the venerable structure originally built in 1913.

“Building the House of Knowledge:” The Graduate College Centennial is free and open to the public in the Wiess Lounge at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 65 Olden Street, until June 6, 2014. The exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.

by: Sara Griffiths