This Week in Princeton History for May 30-June 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students ask for rules to be enforced, the town is trying to address a major rat problem, and more.

May 30, 1878—“Troubled at the spirit of luxuriousness now gaining foothold in the College, and more especially by the barking of the spaniels kenneled in our dormitories,” the Princetonian urges the institution to enforce rules against students keeping horses, dogs, weapons, and explosives on campus.

If we judge from 19th-century photographs, dogs were virtually ubiquitous on campus, and the student plea to have rules against keeping them likely had no real effect. Unidentified group of Princeton students, 1894, some holding dogs. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP16, Image No. 3954.

June 1, 1860—A notice in today’s Princeton Press urges locals to donate to the controversial Charles Chiniquy’s St. Anne Colony in Illinois.

June 3, 1933—Princeton University announces the election of Harold W. Dodds as its 15th president.

June 5, 1941—The town of Princeton has set out on an extermination campaign to get control of the rat population. The rats are believed to be breeding at the corner of Nassau Street and Palmer Square. Estimates indicate that the population of rats will increase from the current 10,000 to 70,000 if the campaign is not successful.  (The human population of Princeton is 6,992.)

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 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, an Ohio newspaper weighs in on a judge’s decision, James McCosh recovers his stolen horse, and more.

December 23, 1893—The Cleveland Gazette complains about the decision of a Mercer County judge to fine two Princeton students $50 each for assaulting Sing Lee (a Chinese immigrant who operates a laundry on Nassau Street) and his assistant, Lee Why; ransacking Lee’s business; breaking the windows; and stealing $85 from Lee. The students themselves argued that the disapproval expressed in newspapers nationwide was punishment enough, but the judge disagreed. In addition to material losses, Lee and Why suffered burns from hot irons and boiling water, but the Gazette minimizes the incident and considers it normal behavior. “Civilization is rapidly growing effete and tottering to its fall. The next thing we know college hazing will be dragged into the courts and treated like any other ruffianism.”

December 24, 1868—James McCosh has recovered his stolen horse. The horse, worth $1,500 (approximately $27,500 in 2020 dollars), was stolen from its stable in Princeton recently. Police found the horse at a farm in Trenton attached to a buggy stolen from someone else.

Horses have played a significant role in the lives of Princetonians, as with these horses who pulled a buggy for visitors to Prospect House ca. 1900s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD06, Image No. 8908.

December 25, 1874—Two students set off on foot for Washington, D.C. “The roads were in a very bad condition, but they are both men of indomitable energy and pluck.”

December 27, 1765—The St. John’s Grand Lodge of Massachusetts grants a petition from residents of Princeton to establish a Masonic Lodge. Members include Richard Stockton and John Witherspoon.

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.

The Horses of Princeton

When we say someone or something is a “workhorse” these days, it signifies working hard for a long time, but we rarely mean an animal. For most of Princeton’s past, however, this term would have referred to literal horses. Horses were a vital part of daily life well into the 20th century.

Horses with wagons and buggies on Nassau Street, ca. 1915. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AC05, Image No. 8621.

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