This Week in Princeton History for July 13-19

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first African American head coach in the Ivy League is hired, a professor climbs a mountain, and more.

July 13, 1770—Students are outraged by a “Letter from the Merchants in New York to the Committee of Merchants in Philadelphia,” which they have somehow intercepted. The letter outlines the intent of the New York merchants to abandon a nonimportation agreement within the colonies. In response, the students process in front of Nassau Hall and burn the letter “with hearty Wishes, that the Names of all Promoters of such a daring Breach of Faith, may be blasted in the Eyes of every Lover of Liberty, and their Names handed down to Posterity, as Betrayers of their Country.”

July 14, 1970—Larry Ellis is named head coach of track and cross country at Princeton University, becoming the first African American head coach in the Ivy League. He will later coach at the 1984 Olympic Games.

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Larry Ellis (far left, middle row) with the 1981 Princeton University cross country team. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 168.

July 16, 1799—Three students are brought before the faculty on charges of “a violation of those Laws of the College which forbid the carrying of firearms.” They write a letter of apology and are permitted to continue their studies.

July 17, 1877—Princeton professor William Libbey makes the first recorded ascent of Mount Princeton near Nathrop, Colorado.

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Mount Princeton, undated. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 27.

For last week’s 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 July 6-12

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the rowing crew makes it to the top, a senior makes a major fossil discovery, and more.

July 8, 1956—Princeton’s Crew beats England’s Royal Air Force in the final round of the international Thames Cup race, earning Princeton the designation of the best lightweight rowing crew in the world.

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Princeton competes in the Thames Cup race, July 1956. Princeton University Rowing Collection (AC223), Box 1.

July 9, 1776—The Declaration of Independence is read in Nassau Hall.

July 11, 1992—Princeton staffer Robert Lafond of Computing and Information Technology (now the Office of Information Technology/OIT) begins his seventh eight-day bike ride of 500 miles across five states to raise money for a shelter for abused children.

July 12, 1979—Princeton senior Fran A. Tannenbaum ’80 discovers fossilized dinosaur eggs on a paleontology expedition in Montana. They are the first nest of whole dinosaur eggs ever found in North America.

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John R. “Jack” Horner, a geology department research assistant who led Princeton’s 1979 paleontology expedition in Montana, shows off the dinosaur eggs Fran A. Tannenbaum ’80 discovered. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 145.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

The Origins of the “Ivy League”

Q. Dear Mr. Mudd,

Where did the term “Ivy League” come from, and what schools are in it?

A. The eight universities belonging to the Ivy League are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. The idea dates back to October 1933 when Stanley Woodward, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune, used the phrase “ivy colleges” to describe these schools, which had common athletic programs. In 1936, the student newspapers of these colleges printed an editorial calling for the formal establishment of an athletic league for the “ivy colleges.”

Clip from NYHT

Clipping from New York Herald Tribune, October 16, 1933.

When initiated by administrators in the eight schools in September 1946, the “Ivy Group” was concerned about growing interest in college athletics as a form of national entertainment, especially football. The advent of televised college football games only intensified the colleges’ resolve to develop rules governing the sport. The Ivies were to be places where athletes were primarily students who participated in sports as a part of an overall educational program, not professionals who were recruited for their physical abilities nor students who were exploited for the material gain of their institutions. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for November 24-30

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the campus mourns the death of John F. Kennedy, the first classes are held in Nassau Hall, and more.

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John F. Kennedy speaks to the Whig-Cliosophic Society, April 26, 1954, Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP13, Item No. 3168.

November 25, 1963—In observation of the National Day of Mourning for United States President and (briefly) former Princetonian John F. Kennedy, all classes are canceled and University offices are closed.

November 26, 1787—The Faculty of the College of New Jersey resolve that baseball, being “low and unbecoming gentlemen and students,” and “attended by great danger to the health,” must be prohibited, “inasmuch as there are many amusements both more honorable and more useful.” Baseball continues to be played anyway.

November 28, 1756—With carpenters and others still at work on the building the students attend the first day of classes at Nassau Hall.

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Nassau Hall commemorative plate by Wedgwood, Memorabilia Collection (AC053), Box A2.

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Charcoal drawing of Philip Vickers Fithian, Class of 1772, by an unknown artist., ca. October 1776, Undergraduate Alumni Records 1748-1920 (AC104), Box 24.

November 30, 1770—Philip Vickers Fithian (Class of 1772) writes to his father about his experiences at the College of New Jersey. A standard schedule:

5:00 AM—Rising Bell
5:30 AM—Morning Prayers
8:00 AM—Breakfast
9:00 AM-1:00 PM—Recitation
1:00 PM—Dinner
1:00-3:00 PM—Recreation
3:00-5:00 PM—Study Hours
5:00 PM—Evening Prayers
7:00 PM—Supper
9:00 PM—Study Bell (to go to bed before this is “reproachful”)

Students who repeatedly miss morning prayers will receive “public Admonition in the Hall for Contempt of Authority.” Fithian feels the customs of the College are “exceedingly well formed to check & restrain the vicious, & to assist the studious, & to countenance & incourage (sic) the virtuous.” Read this letter and others here.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

Editing the world’s online encyclopedia: Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon Three

On October 19th, 2012 staff members of Mudd Manuscript Library once again opened the doors and archives for the purpose of composing and  editing Princeton University-related articles on Wikipedia.

For this third event of its kind, we decided to hold it during our normal business hours during volunteer weekend with the focus of enhancing Princeton athletics information.

We had a total of 11 attendees with 3 new user names created.

Here a new user learns how to create and edit articles from a Wikipedian

A number of articles were created and are still being edited.

  1. Princeton Cannon Song
  2. Class of 1952 Stadium
  3. User:Undead q/Karl Langlotz
  4. List of Princeton University Olympians
  5. Hollie Donan
  6. User:Lmd08/sandbox (Princeton Tiger Mascot)
In addition a number of articles were expanded.
  1. Lisa Brown-Miller Coaching details added
  2. The Princeton Tigers page gained the addition of:
  • Women’s Golf
  • Golf
  • First football game

Two photos from the editing were also added to Wikimedia Commons

We count this edit-a-thon as yet another success and plans are being made for future events that will include undergraduates in learning more about Wikipedia and editing.

Princeton Alumni Weekly writer Brett Tomlinson was a participant in our event and has also written here about his experience.