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 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.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 10-16

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a delayed cookie shipment arrives, Commencement moves to a new home, and more.

June 12, 1996—Cookies mailed to Princeton-in-Asia intern Laura Burt on November 1, 1995 finally arrive unopened in Wuhan, China.

June 13, 1894—Commencement Exercises are moved from the First Presbyterian Church (which will later be renamed Nassau Presbyterian Church) to the new Alexander Hall (also known as Commencement Hall) for the first time, where they will be held until 1922.

The 1894 program for the College of New Jersey’s 147th annual Commencement (later named Princeton University but we often find “Princeton College” on official documents rather than its official name; see caption below for June 15th’s entry for more details. (Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 3.)

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This Week in Princeton History for October 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, police arrest 31 protesters, Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated Princeton’s president, and more.

October 22, 1945—At a brief ceremony in the Faculty Room of Nassau Hall, Princeton’s president, Harold W. Dodds, confers 20 undergraduate degrees, but only 11 graduates are present to receive their diplomas in person. Nicholas Katzenbach ’44, who completed his coursework in a Nazi prison camp, is among those who receive their degrees in absentia. With the exception of a World War II ceremony in which only four degrees were conferred, this is believed to be the smallest Commencement at Princeton since the 1750s.

As can be seen on this grade card for Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach, originally a member of the Class of 1943, he had an unusual junior and senior year, with asterisks noting courses for which he received credit for work “pursued while a prisoner of war in a German prison camp…” (Click to enlarge image.) Undergraduate Academic Records 1921-2015 (AC198).

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This Week in Princeton History for June 11-17

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a journalist notes an increase in the number of graduates who received some form of financial aid, the Board of Trustees approves admitting women to some classes “on an experimental basis,” and more.

June 11, 1933—Trinity Episcopal Church celebrates its centennial.

June 14, 1898—Writing for the Chicago Record, an unnamed journalist reports that of the 211 alumni who graduated with the Princeton University Class of 1898, 38 fully supported themselves with work and scholarships, and roughly a third of the class received some sort of scholarship. “Students who are supporting themselves are classed as ‘poor men’ as distinguished from ‘charity students.’ … The ‘poor man’ is a good fellow and usually proud, perhaps a little sensitive about his position, but he enters thoroughly into the spirit of college life.”

Visualization of data reported in the Chicago Record, June 14, 1898. Today, the University reports that 60% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 12-18

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Liberty Bell is in town, the first woman earns a Princeton degree, and more.

June 13, 1878—A member of the Class of 1878 writes that he is disappointed by the College of New Jersey (Princeton)’s invitation to U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes to speak at Commencement, saying his appearance would dishonor the graduates and Commencement would be “made subservient to outsiders.” It is ultimately a moot point; Hayes declines the invitation.

College of New Jersey (Princeton) Commencement Program, 1878. Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 2, Folder 18.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Commencement is held without predicted problems, a senior praises William Howard Taft, and more.

June 5, 1978—Princeton University’s Board of Trustees votes to include coverage for abortion under the student health insurance plan.

This article by an anonymous female Princeton University student details her experiences with health care prior to the decision to cover abortion under the student health plan (Princeton Forerunner, November 30, 1976).

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This Week in Princeton History for February 20-26

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a Supreme Court justice visit ignites protest, the women’s squash team completes eight undefeated seasons, and more.

February 21, 1920—Princeton University holds a special graduation ceremony for students who missed their own but have now returned from war.

Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 6.

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Bob Dylan’s Honorary Princeton University Degree

When news of Bob Dylan being honored with a Nobel Prize in Literature broke a few months ago, the Swedish Academy responsible for the award acknowledged that it might appear to be an inappropriate choice. Dylan, as a musician, might not be thought of as an author so much as a composer. “If you look back,” permanent secretary Sara Danius told the press, “you discover Homer and Sappho, and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to … But we still read Homer and Sappho…and we enjoy it, and same thing with Bob Dylan. He can be read, and should be read.”

ac106_box_6_dylan_bob

Bob Dylan at Princeton University, June 9, 1970. Honorary Degree Records (AC106), Box 6.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 25-31

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Presbyterians worry about drinking, the campus operator has a bit less to do, and more.

July 27, 1937—William H. Smathers, who represents New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, writes a response to a letter from one of its professors, William Starr Myers, that makes headlines for its vitriol: “Your letter … convinces me that you are unfit to come in contact with youngsters and confirms my suspicion that ‘dear old Princeton’ would be a bad place to send my two boys who were born and raised in New Jersey. I would not want one of my sons to come under the influence of a mentality so small and so warped…” Myers wrote to Smathers to criticize him for voting in favor of expanding the Supreme Court to 15 justices as Franklin Delano Roosevelt had proposed.

July 29, 1897—The Prohibitionist New York Voice derides Princeton University for employing faculty who have signed a petition for a liquor license for the Princeton Inn, which they identify as the school’s “official grog shop”.

New York Voice headline

Headline from the New York Voice, July 29, 1897. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 343, Folder 2.

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