This Week in Princeton History for April 18-24

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the campus mourns Abraham Lincoln, Fidel Castro pays a visit, and more.

April 19, 1865—Someone etches “We Mourn Our Loss” into a window on the third floor of Nassau Hall in reference to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. (More on campus reaction to Lincoln’s death here.)

Scrapbook ribbon

Ribbon found in the college scrapbook of Edward Wilder Haines, Class of 1866. Scrapbook Collection (AC026), Box 16.

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Fidel Castro visits Princeton University

Daily Princetonian photo of Castro on Washington Street.

In 1959, not even three months after he came to power, Fidel Castro was invited to speak to a small group of undergraduate students and faculty members of the Woodrow Wilson School. In a recent donation to the University Archives, we received some key items related to Castro’s visit, including this letter of invitation.

Letter sent to Castro. March 5, 1959

This telegram response to the initial letter is also part of the donation, which was added to the American Whig-Cliosophic Society Records.

Ultimately, Castro did accept the invitation and spoke for the Woodrow Wilson School’s Special Program in American Civilization. Admission to the program was by invitation only, and it was held in Wilson Hall, now known as Corwin Hall.

These materials were donated by Ambassador Paul D. Taylor ’60 and include a carbon copy of three pages of notes of excerpts from Castro’s speech taken by Taylor.

The rest of Castro’s visit included a tour of campus with President Goheen ’40 as well as being the guest of honor at the Present Day Club in town.

During his visit, Castro stayed in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Roland T. Ely ’46. Below is a piece of biographical information that is included in the Historical Subject Files: Box 309, Folder 20.

If you would like to learn more about Castro’s visit, please search the digitized archives of The Daily Princetonian.

The following links are just two of the articles related to Castro’s visit.

Castro Violates Security Regulations

The Story Behind Castro’s Visit

There is also this piece in the Princeton Alumni Weekly online edition.