This Week in Princeton History for September 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, violence erupts at Commencement over politics, a student pitches the first known curve ball, and more.

September 23, 1947—A controversial chain letter begins sweeping the campus.

September 25, 1827—Princeton’s Commencement turns violent. Savannah’s Daily Georgian will report: “A vast crowd of citizens and strangers assembled, among whom was Samuel L. Southward Esq., Secretary of the U. States Navy, who is now on a visit to his friends in this state. … Although in general good order was observed, yet it is to be regretted that a number of acts of violence were committed; several blows passed between different parties of combatants; some were knocked down, and some, otherwise injured. The presidential question in some roused the parties and pushed them forward to pugilistic strife.”

September 26, 1863—In a game against the Philadelphia Athletics, Princeton’s Joseph P. Henry ’66 pitches what is claimed to be the first curve ball. The New York Clipper attributes Princeton’s 29-to-13 victory to this innovation: “In this match slow pitching with a great twist to the ball achieved a victory over swift pitching.”

Princeton’s 1863-1864 baseball team, officially known as the “Nassau Club” but better known on campus as the “Princeton Nine.” Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box LP26, Image No. 1978.

September 27, 1886—A letter to the editor of the Princetonian expresses concern about leaflets advertising board for students in town at a lower cost than can be offered through eating clubs potentially undermining the ability of some students to provide for themselves.

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 4-10

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Whig-Clio representatives meet with Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Stewart gives his last student theater performance, and more.

May 4, 1867—After Princeton’s baseball team defeats Yale 58 to 52, both teams have dinner together at Mercer Hall, parting “the best of friends after their short acquaintance.”

May 5, 1970—Nine members of Whig-Clio and two journalists from the Daily Princetonian meet with Richard Nixon’s chief foreign policy advisor, Henry Kissinger, at the White House. What is usually a routine 4-day annual “Project Update” has become, at the direction of organizers Christopher Godfrey ’72 and Deborah Leff ’73, a vehicle to communicate Princeton’s opposition to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the purpose of the Princeton Strike to officials in Washington.

May 6, 1932—In response to its notable success earlier in the spring, which drew Mary Pickford and representatives from Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Fox to Princeton to attend performances of the play, Theatre Intime restages “Nerissa” with its original cast. Jimmy Stewart ’32 is giving what is expected to be the last acting performance of his life in the supporting role of “McNulty.”

Jimmy Stewart ’32, at right, as “McNulty” in “Nerissa,” Spring 1932. Theatre Intime Records (AC022), Box 17.

May 10, 1876—Students attend the opening of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the first official World’s Fair in the U.S., which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Arthur Bryan, Class of 1878, will later write in the class history book: “A special train was chartered to take us to and from the Centennial grounds, and early in the morning it bore us rapidly away from Princeton. … The ride back from Philadelphia afforded no opportunity for sleeping, as the noise made by singing, patriotic speeches and cat-calls prohibited every approach toward somnific obliviousness.”

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 April 27-May 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, James McCosh is elected president of the College, thousands turn out to witness Firestone Library open for the first time, and more.

April 27, 1980—Princeton Against Registration and the Draft (PARD) holds its second protest of Jimmy Carter’s proposal for requiring registration for selective service, in spite of the country not being at war.

April 29, 1868—The Board of Trustees elects James McCosh as president of the College of New Jersey.

James McCosh, ca. 1870s. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box AD13.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for April 13-19

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian takes over the function of the Bulletin Elm, the baseball team plays its first game, and more.

April 15, 1975—Two students receive a letter offering admission to Princeton in error on or about this day. Though the students were supposed to be rejected, Princeton will honor the acceptance if they choose to attend.

April 17, 1885—The Princetonian announces that it will begin assuming the function of the Bulletin Elm because the tree is dying.

Bulletin Elm, ca. 1885. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP07, Image No. 159.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for June 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a gas shortage causes headaches in town, the baseball team begins a tour playing against New England colleges, and more.

June 18, 1882—Marquand Chapel is dedicated.

Marquand Chapel, ca. 1880s. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP29, Image No. 688.

Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for April 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a trespasser is found cooking eggs, the campus mourns Martin Luther King, Jr., and more.

April 3, 1958—While out of town on a trip with the team, Princeton University baseball trainer Fred “Bobo” Holmes saves a woman from bleeding to death after a stabbing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

April 5, 1985—A man found cooking eggs in the Graduate Annex is arrested for trespassing. He is said to be a “habitual offender.”

April 6, 1931—During a debate broadcast over the radio, J. R. Mitchell ’32 argues “That the emergence of women from the home is a deplorable feature of modern life.”

April 9, 1968—Due to activism on the part of the Association for Black Collegians, Princeton University suspends normal operations to memorialize assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. While classes are not held, the U-Store is closed, and libraries delay opening until 3:00PM, small group interracial dialogue seminars follow a meeting with an overflow audience in Alexander Hall. An impassioned plea from Alfred D. Price ’69 receives a standing ovation from the more than 1,200 attendees: “White America does not realize what the black community feels they have at stake. … we don’t have any answers. Neither do you. We’ve got to find answers together.”

Marion Sleet ’69 at a vigil for Martin Luther King, Jr. in Princeton, 1968. Alfred D. Price ’69 says this may have been on the same day as the interracial dialogue seminars: “At the end of the day all of us who had been discussion leaders met up on the front steps of Nassau Hall and I remember Doc Fields having us form a circle and joining hands with our hands crossed in front of us and then clasping the hand of each guy next to us. And there were, I don’t know, 40 or so of us present. And I remember Doc [Carl A.] Fields leading a kind of prayer … And so there we were, all of us standing on the front stoop of Nassau Hall with our hands joined and Fields using that as a teaching moment for us. Why didn’t we join hands sooner? I think that was that day and that’s how that day concluded, but I will never forget the experience. Powerful.” Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 38.

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 May 11-17

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Charles Lindbergh sneaks through campus, baseball makes its television debut, and more.

May 12, 1999—The Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Princeton University hold a memorial service in Firestone Plaza for three Chinese journalists killed in a NATO bombing on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Chinese_Embassy_bombing_protest_Prince_14_May_1999

Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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.

JFK_Whig-Clio_undated_AC112_SP13_Item_3168

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.

Nassau_Hall_Wedgewood_Plate_AC53_Box_A2

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

Philip_Vickers_Fithian_1772_AC104_Box_24

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.