This Week in Princeton History for December 20-26

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, the son of the Mississippi governor’s presence becomes controversial, prominent professors oppose fallout shelters, and more.

December 22, 1821—The New Hampshire Sentinel reports that the will of Elias Boudinot has left a portion of his estate to Princeton. The institution will use the gifts as follows:

  • $10,000 will be used to endow two fellowships, one in history and one in modern languages
  • 1,004 acres of land in New York State will be sold to pay for a cabinet to display natural history specimens
  • His books will be added to the library

December 23, 1980—University chaplain John T. Walsh receives a call from an Iranian official asking him to perform Christmas services for Iran’s American hostages.

December 25, 1850—A writer in the Worcester, Massachusetts National Aegis accuses Mississippi’s governor, John A. Quitman, of hypocrisy, because Quitman (a “Fire-Eater”) is pro-secession but has sent his son to Princeton. “So, doubtless, it would be found that many other fire-eating orators, who are urging their Southern fellow-citizens not to buy of the North and not to wear or eat any thing [sic] that comes from the North, send their own children here to be educated. This shows at once the inconsistency of their course, the hollowness and hypocrisy of their declarations, and the inestimable value of the Union they threaten to destroy.”

John A. Quitman, governor of Mississippi (shown here), was the father of Frederick Henry Quitman (Class of 1851). Photo courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration.

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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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