This Week in Princeton History for December 30-January 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Glee Club breaks speed records in the Midwest, the Princeton Alumni Weekly editor is drafted into military service, and more.

December 30, 1893—The Glee Club’s special tour train sets a record for the fastest journey ever taken from Louisville to Cincinnati, covering 119 miles in 136 minutes.

Though the Glee Clubs referred to themselves as part of “Princeton University” on the cover of their 1893-1894 Glee Club tour itinerary, Princeton didn’t officially change its name from the College of New Jersey until 1896. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 193, Folder 6.

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“This Is More Than a School”: James M. Stewart ’32’s Princeton

When we launched our Tumblr page in January 2015, we filled it with a variety of content on the history of Princeton University, but it didn’t take long for us to discover that one alumnus in particular consistently received a lot of attention on the platform: James Maitland Stewart ’32. In honor of this, we currently have an exhibit case in our lobby dedicated to Stewart’s long-term connection to Princeton: “‘This Is More Than a School’: James M. Stewart 32’s Princeton.”

Jimmy Stewart, the son of Alexander “Eck” Stewart of the Class of 1898, wrote on his 1928 application to Princeton that he chose it due to family connections and his belief that Princeton “is by far the best equipped to give me a broad, profitable education, provided that I apply myself diligently to the work.” His dreams of becoming a civil engineer, however, were short-lived. Diligent work proved a challenge in the face of tempting recreational activities. He later told Princeton Living, “College algebra was like a death blow to me.” He did especially poorly in a Shakespeare course and “did not survive Spanish.” Unable to keep up in his classes, Stewart was forced to attend summer school to avoid flunking out. At the end of Stewart’s freshman year, his math professor told him, “You’d better think very seriously about being something else [other than a civil engineer], or you’ll be in deep trouble.”

Transcript

Grade card for James Maitland Stewart ’32, Undergraduate Academic Records 1920-2015 (AC198), Box 25. To better understand Stewart’s academic struggles, see our previous blog post explaining the 1-7 grading system used here. N.B.: Access to student academic records is governed by this policy.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 25-31

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the very first classes are held, a scientific expedition photographs an eclipse, and more.

May 26, 1888—The Glee Club performs for sitting First Lady Frances Fulsom Cleveland and a crowd of nearly a thousand at a reception in her honor. After the concert, she attends the Yale-Princeton baseball game wearing Princeton’s colors and carrying an orange and black bouquet.

Frances_Cleveland_AC348_Box_1

Frances Fulsom Cleveland. Grover Cleveland Collection (AC348), Box 1.

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