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.
In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, two professors accuse a third of stealing from them, Princeton’s first Japanese Ph.D. writes about his experiences on campus, and more.
May 13, 1869—Despite worries that bad weather would prevent women from attending Class Day, the Nassau Literary Review reports that they filled the Chapel.
In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a junior converts to Christianity, the centennial is celebrated, and more.
June 28, 1873—Rioge Koe, a Japanese student in the Class of 1874, gives his sword to Princeton president James McCosh. He writes a note to accompany the sword asserting that he has “surrendered a barbarous custom of ‘the East’ before the higher, nobler and more enlightened manner of the Western civilization” on the occasion of his conversion to Christianity.