This Week in Princeton History for June 28-July 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a London magazine notes the impact of Prohibition on Princetonians, Yale offers condolences on the death of a rising senior, and more.

June 29, 1869—The American Whig Society celebrates its centennial.

July 2, 1927—The London Graphic reports on life at Princeton: “Before Prohibition, the Princeton ‘tigers’…were like German students in being noted beer-drinkers. Now their only relics of past prowess and happier days are their ‘beer-suits,’ which seniors wear for a special celebration on their return to ‘school.’”

July 3, 1891—Students from Yale write to students from Princeton to offer condolences on the death of Frederick Brokaw, Class of 1892, noting that Yalies and Princetonians attend college “with the same purpose and aim, the development of a manly Christian character…” Brokaw died trying to save three women from drowning at the Jersey Shore, and was known beyond Princeton as the baseball team’s catcher. The Yale baseball team will send a floral arrangement to Brokaw’s funeral.

Frederick Brokaw. Image from the 1892 Nassau Herald.

July 4, 1837—Independence Day is celebrated on campus “with unusual spirit,” including cannon salutes firing, a ceremonial procession to the Chapel, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and at least eight speeches throughout the course of the day.

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.

This Week in Princeton History for May 24-30

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a writer praises the new chapel building, a student publication urges kindness for Civil War veterans, and more.

May 24, 1851—A letter to the Trenton State Gazette describes chapel services at Princeton: “If any of our alumni, or other college acquaintances, who associate the service of daily prayers with the old ‘Prayer Hall,’ its whittled benches and dingy walls, would drop in at the same exercises as they are now conducted, they would wonder at the change. The beautiful chapel, the painted pews, the carpeted and cushioned platform, and the sweet organ, give a new aspect to the whole service. It is true that now and then a student forgets the proprieties so much as to enter in his study-gown, and that some begin to leave the pews before the prayer is quite ended, but the general deportment is far better than in old times.”

The College of New Jersey (Princeton) Chapel, ca. 1860s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box_MP28, Image 651.

May 25, 1772—An anonymous young woman writes in a poem:

In arts and sciences my knowledge
Might shame the lads of Princeton college
I can explain the globes and maps,
As readily as pin my caps;
Mechanics too, and hydrostatics,
Astronomy and mathematics,
Discoveries by sea and land;
I know them all—and understand
The works of Newton, Boyle, and Locke,
As well as—how to make a smock,
Or fix a tucker to my frock!

May 28, 1900—Reliable train service between Princeton and New York is instituted, with one train running to New York and one returning daily, except on Sunday, to spare riders the hassle of switching trains at Princeton Junction.

May 30, 1890—As students observe Decoration Day, the Nassau Literary Magazine warns them not to denounce living Civil War veterans despite their “shameless hunt for pensions.”

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.

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 Week in Princeton History for July 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian reappears after an epidemic, Robert Goheen anticipates racial tension on campus, and more.

July 9, 1880—In an issue delayed for weeks due to an epidemic of typhoid, the Princetonian acknowledges that the abrupt breakup of the spring session meant that there had been no opportunity for the community to grieve the loss of the 10 students who died, and offers space in its future columns for testimonials about the lives lost.

July 12, 1950—Air Force Lt. Douglas Haag ’49 is probably the first Princeton alum to die in action in the Korean War, but his remains will not be identified until 2013.

July 13, 1970—The New York Times runs an article on a panel of college presidents discussing their institutions, quoting Princeton University’s Robert Goheen: “Under the general heading of student unrest, we think we’re going to have increasing problems in the current year with our blacks…It’s going to be a long time, I think, before we work out the modes of accommodations for blacks in our universities.”

Robert F. Goheen (center) with student attendees of “The Future of the Negro Undergraduate” conference, March 30, 1967. Office of the President Records (AC193), Box 456, Folder 7.

July 14, 1793—Town and gown celebrate Bastille Day with a ball and supper at the College Inn (later known as the Nassau Inn).

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.

This Week in Princeton History for July 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Harriet van Ingen joins its geologists on a trip to Newfoundland, a fire means Commencement will have to find a new home, and more.

July 1, 1927—Princeton’s new “car rule,” which prohibits students from driving cars within the Borough of Princeton, takes effect.

July 3, 1913—Princeton geologists set sail for Newfoundland. Harriet Van Ingen, wife of professor Gilbert Van Ingen, is along to aid the expedition.

Harriet Van Ingen at the Princeton University geology expedition’s camp in Newfoundland, 1913. Department of Geosciences Records (AC139), Box 19.

July 4, 1937—Though fireworks-related deaths nationwide on this date reach a high of 563, a new statewide ban on private use of firecrackers is credited with preventing deaths in town.

July 6, 1835—Nassau Hall’s evening prayer service in the chapel is disrupted by a cry of “fire” from the street. Students flee, leaving College of New Jersey president James Carnahan standing at a pulpit in an empty room. It turns out that some leftover Independence Day fireworks have ignited at the nearby First Presbyterian Church, which is now engulfed in flames. The loss of the building is disruptive to college life, because it is typically used for Commencement and other events throughout the year.

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.

This Week in Princeton History for April 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a campus documentary wins an Oscar, the Princeton Alumni Weekly appears for the first time, and more.

April 1, 1869—The Class of 1872 celebrates “All Fool’s Day” with a pasteboard band parade. In his senior year, participant Karl Case will later write of this experience, “Freshmen were funnier in those days than they are in these.”

April 3, 1974—A Search for Answers wins an Oscar for “Best Documentary Short.” The film examines education at Princeton University in an era of significant change.

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A Round Up of Princeton History for July 2-8 and Independence Day

The “Demystifying Mudd” series has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. We hope we can bring it to you next week. In the meantime, here is a round up of tidbits we’ve collected over the past several years to highlight events in Princeton University history for July 2-8 and some more in-depth looks at the impact of the American War for Independence on the College of New Jersey (Princeton).

In 2015, we told you about the death of Jimmy Stewart ’32, students who returned after doing a good deed to find their rooms had been ransacked, and a professor who won an Olympic medal for shooting.

In 2016, we reported on the Princeton Blues beginning the “Cannon War” with Rutgers, George Whitefield’s visit to campus, and a program to train every student for war.

1910 postcard by Christie Whiteman. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045), Box 4

In 2017, we showed you photos of the student who was the youngest person ever elected to a school board in the United States and a student who had a 20-game winning streak on Jeopardy.

If you’d like some in-depth stories appropriate to celebrate the American Independence Day, you might want to read about how Nassau Hall and the Rittenhouse Orrery were damaged in the Battle of Princeton. You might also be interested in learning more about how the cannons left behind have shaped Princeton’s traditions.

We look forward to demystifying ourselves soon. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday!

This Week in Princeton History for February 12-18

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, debates over fallout shelters are taking place, Henry Fairfax makes his last deliveries, and more.

February 12, 1962—The Fallout Shelter Committee presents its recommendations to Princeton University president Robert Goheen, provoking debate over the school’s responsibilities to local residents and visitors in the event of a nuclear attack.

Map of fallout shelters at Princeton University, ca. 1962. (Click to enlarge.) Office of Physical Planning Records (AC154), Box 32.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 15-21

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, students and guests attend the first art lecture, the Board of Trustees ends gender-based admissions quotas, and more.

January 15, 1877—Professor Edward Delano Lindsey gives the first lecture of a course in Art in the newly established Department of Art and Archaeology. The Nassau Literary Magazine observes, “Even the ladies were represented and proved by their attention and expressive countenances their appreciation of both lecturer and subject.”

January 16, 1813—Students successfully petition the faculty “to be allowed this day as a holy day [sic], for the purpose of spending it in the amusement of sleighing.”

January 19, 1974—The Board of Trustees votes to end an admissions policy that enforces quotas on the number of women who may be admitted to Princeton University, a policy originally intended to prevent a decline in the number of men admitted after the advent of coeducation.

This photo of a Princeton University classroom ca. 1975 was labeled “Coed classroom.” If you look closely, you will find a woman in this class (out of focus toward the left). Though Princeton began admitting women to all degree programs in 1969, it was some time before it felt fully coeducational to students, in part due to quotas that kept the ratio of men to women high. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP150, Image No. 4013.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 1-7

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Baker Memorial Rink opens, the status of graduate alumni is in dispute, and more.

January 1, 1891—Students gather to ring in the new year, but become so absorbed in their recreational activities that they mostly fail to notice that midnight has come and gone. Undeterred from their original plan, they march through town in the early hours of the morning and wake residents with loud singing and horn blasts.

January 3, 1777—George Washington and the Continental Army defeat the British at the Battle of Princeton.

Princeton long celebrated Washington’s birthday as a major holiday. Programs for the day’s events like this one from 1897 usually commemorated his 1777 victory on the Princeton campus. Washington’s Birthday Records (AC200).

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