This Week in Princeton History for December 19-25

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, alumni have the chance to see proposed dormitory plans, a student plot to make eggnog is foiled, and more.

December 22, 1890—The Charlotte News notes that “A large number of Princeton students passed the city yesterday en route south.”

December 23, 1908—Today’s issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly contains drawings of the proposed new dormitories to be built on the northwest corner of campus, thanks to a generous donation from Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage. Ultimately, none of the buildings in the group, later to be known as Rockefeller College, will bear her name, but one of the dining halls will be dubbed “Russell Sage Hall” in honor of her husband.

Though it is not that unusual to find references to “Sage Hall” or “Sage Tower” in archival records from the early 1910s, this tower is now much better known as Holder Tower, named for Christopher Holder, a 17th-century ancestor of Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage. Holder was an early Quaker who endured religious persecution in Massachusetts Bay Colony and returned to England to escape execution. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP51, Image No. 1788.

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Can Nathaniel FitzRandolph’s Descendants Attend Princeton University for Free?

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

I read that Nathaniel FitzRandolph’s descendants get free tuition at Princeton University. Is this true?

A. According to legend, an agreement between Nathaniel FitzRandolph and the College of New Jersey (as Princeton was then known) was made in 1753. In exchange for donating the land on which Nassau Hall now resides, the College agreed to pay tuition for all of his descendants to attend the institution. We have bad news for today’s FitzRandolphs, though: No such provision was incorporated into the deed of gift.


Inscription on the FitzRandolph Gateway. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 21.

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