This Week in Princeton History for October 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students are taking a new kind of exam, a play written by a member of the Class of 1883 debuts on Broadway, and more.

October 19, 1859—The Princeton Standard reports on a new innovation at Princeton College: Closed-note, written exams.

October 21, 1896—As part of the Sequicentennial celebration at the institution formerly known as the College of New Jersey, Princeton University’s Class of 1861 meets for their 35th anniversary reunion.

The cover of the Princeton Class of 1861′s menu for the Sesquicentennial celebration in 1896. During this celebration of Princeton’s 150th year, the College of New Jersey, colloquially known as Princeton College, officially took the name “Princeton University.” Many classes returned to campus for the festivities. The entire menu can be viewed on our Tumblr page. Princeton University Class Records (AC130), Box 5.

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West Meets East: Japanese Themes in Princeton’s Graphic Arts of the Late 19th Century

If you spend as much time immersed in the University Archives as I do, at times you will see intriguing patterns emerge. I have seen repeated examples of an unusual theme in the graphic arts associated with the College of New Jersey (as Princeton University was named until 1896) in the late 19th century and early 20th: a variety of seemingly out-of-place Asian imagery. For example, a menu for what is clearly Western-style food, written partly in French, features a drawing of potted bamboo and a person in a kimono. One finds drawings of Asians in the Bric-a-Brac’s section headings, though not in settings where any logic would imagine they would truly appear at this time, such as working as clerks in the Registrar’s office. The appearance of the “Mikado” eating club in the 1896 Bric-a-Brac, however, should clear up any confusion about the origins of these themes.

Class of 1870 reunion dinner menu, June 20, 1881. (Click to enlarge.) Princeton University Class Records (AC130), Box 7.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 2-8

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Frist Campus Center opens, an alum writes to Princeton about surviving a major earthquake in Japan, and more.

September 2, 1973—An article in today’s Sunday magazine of the New York Times provokes contentious correspondence between Dean of the College Neil L. Rudenstine ’56 and the author, Harvard professor Martin Kilson. Kilson claims that Princeton, like many other institutions, has lowered its standards when increasing its admission of African Americans. Rudenstine insists Kilson’s portrayal of academic performance among African Americans at Princeton as subpar is inaccurate.

September 5, 2000—Frist Campus Center opens.

Frist Campus Center, September 2000. Image from negatives found in Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 197, Folder 14.

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