This Week in Princeton History for October 11-17

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an alum makes an influential argument in favor of segregation, a controversial article about Jimmy Stewart ’32 appears, and more.

October 13, 1958—Carleton B. Putnam ’24 writes his infamous “Putnam Letter” to Dwight D. Eisenhower. He argues that segregation is so important that it must be preserved, even if a constitutional amendment is necessary, on the basis that people of African descent are inferior and Southern whites should have the right not to have to associate with them.

October 14, 1948—A controversial profile of Jimmy Stewart ’32 appears in Tiger Magazine. Its authors assert that Stewart is washed up and lacks social skills.

Jimmy Stewart ’32 in Tiger Magazine, October 14, 1948.

October 16, 1997—Blair Hall appears in an ad for AT&T in the New York Times promoting the use of wireless office phones.

October 17, 1875—The campus community attends the funeral of LaForest Dutton, Class of 1879, in the College Chapel, then follows the procession to the students’ lot in Princeton Cemetery for his burial. The Whig Society will wear mourning clothes for 30 days.

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 May 24-30

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a writer praises the new chapel building, a student publication urges kindness for Civil War veterans, and more.

May 24, 1851—A letter to the Trenton State Gazette describes chapel services at Princeton: “If any of our alumni, or other college acquaintances, who associate the service of daily prayers with the old ‘Prayer Hall,’ its whittled benches and dingy walls, would drop in at the same exercises as they are now conducted, they would wonder at the change. The beautiful chapel, the painted pews, the carpeted and cushioned platform, and the sweet organ, give a new aspect to the whole service. It is true that now and then a student forgets the proprieties so much as to enter in his study-gown, and that some begin to leave the pews before the prayer is quite ended, but the general deportment is far better than in old times.”

The College of New Jersey (Princeton) Chapel, ca. 1860s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box_MP28, Image 651.

May 25, 1772—An anonymous young woman writes in a poem:

In arts and sciences my knowledge
Might shame the lads of Princeton college
I can explain the globes and maps,
As readily as pin my caps;
Mechanics too, and hydrostatics,
Astronomy and mathematics,
Discoveries by sea and land;
I know them all—and understand
The works of Newton, Boyle, and Locke,
As well as—how to make a smock,
Or fix a tucker to my frock!

May 28, 1900—Reliable train service between Princeton and New York is instituted, with one train running to New York and one returning daily, except on Sunday, to spare riders the hassle of switching trains at Princeton Junction.

May 30, 1890—As students observe Decoration Day, the Nassau Literary Magazine warns them not to denounce living Civil War veterans despite their “shameless hunt for pensions.”

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 October 30-November 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a letter provokes debate over race, undergraduates complain of excessive demands on their time, and more.

October 30, 1942—A. M. Shumate ’29’s letter to the editor of the Princeton Alumni Weekly takes Daily Princetonian editor Frank Broderick to task for advocating that Princeton change its admissions policies and allow African Americans to attend. “To admit negroes would be to cut off the stream of excellent material that has traditionally come to Princeton from the South. That loss in enrollment would presumably be made up with dusky gentry. A smart deal? If Broderick is really keen on mixing ’em up he might well be acceptable as a transfer student at one of the better-known negro colleges.” Shumate’s letter will result in weeks of alumni debate in the PAW.

October 31, 1932—Students gather with local Princeton residents in a group of 1,500 at Princeton Junction Station to cheer and express support for Herbert Hoover’s reelection campaign as Hoover passes through on his way to Newark.

November 1, 1872—Students are asking for relief from demands on their time that include Saturday recitations and lengthy chapel exercises on Sundays as well as their Monday-Friday classes and morning vespers, but the Board of Trustees is reluctant to grant even a half-day per week off from College responsibilities. They are expressing concern that students will abuse free time if it is granted to them, “by going to Trenton and other places, as well as running up and down the streets at night, breaking lamps and causing disturbance…”

“Old Chapel” at the College of New Jersey (Princeton), ca. 1860s. Princeton students were required to attend daily vespers in chapel each morning until 1882, as well as both morning and afternoon services on Sundays until 1902. Compulsory chapel attendance ended altogether in 1964. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP28, Image No. 651.

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