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Suffice it to point to such obvious departures from tradition as that black socks have been superseded by hose of kaleidoscopic flamboyance, that high shoes now excite derision, and that the emancipated male has acquired a plethora of new accoutrements which if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.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students consider adopting distinctive hats, the U.S. President makes a “pilgrimage” to Princeton’s campus, and more.

June 7, 1877—In order to visually distinguish themselves from townies (in Princeton slang, “snobs”), the Class of 1878 is contemplating starting to wear mortarboards as everyday wear.

Although we see a few different hat styles in this photo of the Class of 1878 (taken in 1878), we do not see mortarboards, which suggests the idea did not take root. Historical Photograph Collection: Class Photographs Series (AC181), Box 4.

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“Wear ’Em”: Princeton University’s First Gay Jeans Day

The events of October 11, 1989, Princeton’s first “Gay Jeans Day,” reverberated far beyond the confines of a 24-hour period. Both then and much later, the day highlighted attitudes among students and alumni toward the LGBTQIA+ community as they existed in the late 1980s. The Princeton LGBTQIA+ Oral History Project (AC465) further gives us insight into the long-term impact, as well as a glimpse into the lives of closeted Princetonians we can’t see in the records made at the time.

With pink flyers stenciled in black letters, organizers of Princeton’s first Gay Jeans Day urged the campus to “wear ’em” without further details. Many took it to mean that wearing jeans would be a declaration of their own homosexuality. The idea wasn’t well-received. As quickly as they could put them up, organizers reported, their flyers would be torn down.

Gay Jeans Day flyer, 1989. Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance Records (AC037), Box 1, Folder 5.

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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.