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 September 7-13

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Mudd Library opens, Virginia sends the college a map, and more.

September 7, 1976—Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library opens for research.

Architect’s rendering of plans for Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 1974. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 160.

Continue reading

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.

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 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.)

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading