This Week in Princeton History for June 7-13

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, members of the Class of 1875 refuse masters degrees, a member of the “Old Guard” complains about the presence of women, and more.

June 7, 1794—Catherine Bullock, age 22, niece of the Morgans who own Prospect Farm, dies of an illness, but her grave on the family’s land will spark generations of rumors among Princeton students to suggest her death was somehow more salacious until the grave is moved off campus in the 20th century.

June 8, 1877—Members of the Class of 1875 refuse the A. M. degree on the grounds that “we do not merit a general literary degree…”

June 10, 1890—The cornerstone is laid for Clio Hall’s new building, an enlarged copy of the original built in the 1830s.

June 13, 1914—The presence of women in the P-Rade on this day disturbs some alumni. Van Tassel Sutphen, Class of 1882, will write to the Princeton Alumni Weekly,

in these days of militant feminism I am well aware that I am taking a perilous position in venturing to deny any privilege whatever to the newly dominant sex. Pray don’t misunderstand me, for I am quite ready to admit that woman has her appointed place in the great scheme of creation; it is her ministering hand that still soothes the fevered brow, it is she who stands ever ready to answer the telephone, upon occasion we may even permit her to supplement the family income by taking in washing. She has won her footing in the market place; we are always glad to welcome her on her infrequent visits to the home; we are not wholly averse to inviting her to enter the polling booth. But, gentlemen of the ‘Old Guard,’ the line must be drawn somewhere, and I would draw it at the Alumni P-Rade; I contend that a woman has no more business in that galley than I would have at a mother’s meeting, unless indeed this is the first insidious step (God forbid!) towards turning Princeton into a co-educational institution.

The Class of 1904 marches in the 1914 P-Rade. Photo from 1916 Bric-a-Brac.

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.

Reunions and the P-Rade

Princeton alumni have a passion for college reunions that is hard to find at most institutions. Each class descends upon the campus every May, as they have for generations.  In its early years, College of New Jersey (Princeton) drew alumni back to campus for Commencement, to meet classmates, to reunite with friends, and/or visit with favorite professors, both informally and at organized events. In 1826, alumni returning for Commencement formed the Alumni Association of Nassau Hall to “promote the interests of the college and the friendly intercourse of the graduates, and meetings were to be held annually in the Prayer Hall on commencement day.” James Madison, Class of 1771, was the Association’s first president, and future College president John Maclean was secretary.

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College of New Jersey (Princeton) Class of 1847 at Commencement, undated. Left to right: William H. Armstrong, H. Clay Cameron, William Silas Whitehead, Alfred Martien, and Henry B. Miller. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box AD24, Folder 1.

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The St. Patrick’s Day P-Rade

It’s no secret that Princetonians love parades; thousands descend upon our small town for each annual celebration of Reunions, the capstone of which is the “P-Rade.” Each class wears its own specially-designed orange and black jacket for this parade. As the Alumni Association notes, this tradition has roots in other, older traditions. It began officially in 1896, when a parade to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the newly-renamed Princeton University (formerly the College of New Jersey) brought thousands of alumni back for a mile-long walk around town, many in costume. Yet a much less well-known and rather short-lived tradition from the early twentieth century was also called the “P-Rade” and treated locals to many unusual sights and sounds on St. Patrick’s Day each year. The St. Patrick’s Day P-Rade had its origins in the parade of students and alumni in 1896, too. This St. Patrick’s Day marks the 100-year anniversary of the last such P-Rade.

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1913 St. Patrick’s Day P-Rade, Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series, Box SP17, Image No. 4086.


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Class of 1929 Commencement and a potpourri of student activities

While the traditions around Commencement have changed some over the University’s 267 year history, overall it is a remarkably consistent ceremony. Let’s take a look back to 1929.  This video shows a number of scenes from a typical Commencement week. We begin with the procession of graduates led by the faculty.  Following that, you see a view of the audience assembled on front campus, with some shots of the stage in front of Nassau Hall, where the event is still held today. Finally you will see a few members of the Class of 1929 receiving their degrees, something that has changed. As the typical graduating class now is over 1,100, diplomas are distributed after the commencement ceremony, not handed out individually.

The golf team is featured at 3:50, polo at 4:54, members of the Daily Princetonian, Bric-a-Brac, student council, Triangle Club and Senior Prom committee featured at 6:16, baseball at 8:56 and finally the P-rade at 10:32.

 

 

 

Can you identify anyone in these films? Add your comments!

For more Commencement videos click here!

Lights, Camera, Action!

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library has launched a new blog dedicated to its audiovisual holdings. Through it, we will announce items that we have posted on Princeton University’s two YouTube Channels.  We encourage viewers to post comments that will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of these materials. In conjunction with the Library’s Preservation Office and the New Media Center, the University Archives has worked to digitize over 40 items and these, along with some films from our Public Policy Papers and additional materials, will be posted on a regular basis.

Our first entry is one of the oldest movies in our audiovisual collection, shot by the Class of 1921 during its graduation weekend (“The Princeton Newsreel Part I”) and its reunions in 1923 and 1926 (“The Princeton Newsreel Part II”). The staged scenes with class members and faculty, which are annotated, demonstrate that silent movies were a new medium. Part I includes scenes of the P-rade and Princeton-Yale baseball match, and named professors, trustees, and class members, followed by exercises with pipe smashing on Cannon Green (24:32). Shots of faculty include President John Grier Hibben (8:15), professors Radcliffe Heermance and Frederick Hutson (9:46), and Colonel William Libbey (13.58). Part II includes varsity rowing with a Princeton victory over Cornell and Yale on Carnegie Lake (26:00), and reunion scenes for 1923 and 1926. During the 1923 reunion the class brought a real tiger (30:03).

This silent 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1948).