This Week in Princeton History for September 30-October 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, new abortion funding policies draw protest, the Navy is moving in, and more.

September 30, 1840—At Commencement, Samuel Reese Frierson of the graduating class speaks on the “Rights of Women.”

October 1, 1989—About 100 Princeton students join a rally of approximately 4,000 people in solidarity with the democracy movement in China to mourn those lost in the  Tiananmen Square Massacre. The group march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Chinese Embassy with a replica of the Chinese protestors’ Goddess of Liberty.

October 4, 1979—A group of 27 students, saying that Princeton University “has violated our right to freedom of conscience in forcing us to pay for something which we consider to be morally reprehensible,” proposes a rebate for students opposed to abortion for the portion of student health fees that would be used to fund them.

In the 1978-1979 academic year, 36 undergraduates and eight graduate students obtained abortions using the insurance plan provided through mandatory student health fees. Previously, University Health Services (UHS) helped students obtain abortions through other means. The rebates were never approved, but in 1981, the Board of Trustees voted to fund abortion coverage from the endowment earmarked for UHS rather than from sources that included student health fees. Coverage was maintained as part of the student health plan. Concerned Alumni of Princeton pamphlet, 1981. Office of the Executive Vice President Records (AC271), Box 25.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 29-August 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Navy is slated to take over three dormitories, an arsonist’s attack on campus seems to be welcomed, and more.

July 30, 1942—The chair of the Undergraduate Council announces that the Navy will be taking over Brown, Cuyler, and Patton Halls in September. The Council votes to urge those students forced to move to attempt to find roommates.

July 31, 1963—George F. Kennan (Class of 1925) resigns as U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia.

August 2, 1865—After a sick homeless man found sleeping in the campus gym dies of smallpox, someone burns it to the ground to prevent the spread of the disease. Although fire alarms sound, attempts to put out the blaze are half-hearted due to ongoing fears of infection. No one ever attempts to discover the identity of the arsonist because the town is so relieved the danger is gone.

The first gymnasium at the College of New Jersey (Princeton), ca. 1865, shown in the foreground of this campus scene with Nassau Hall in the distance. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP15, Image No. 351.

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African Americans and Princeton University

Dear Mr. Mudd:

Q. What information do you have about African Americans and Princeton University?

A. Until the twentieth century, Princeton’s history has mostly been dominated by white men, typically from prosperous backgrounds. Though decidedly pro-Union during the Civil War, the campus had strong Southern influences, and its reputation as the “northernmost university town of the [segregated] south” was not undeserved. Yet that is not to say that Princeton’s story can only be told in terms of its loudest voices. Here, we give a brief overview of some of the ways African Americans fit into Princeton’s past.


Princeton University cheerleaders Holland Gary ’97 and Tiffany O’Brien ’97, 1995. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP9, Image No. 2484.

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