This Week in Princeton History for July 10-16

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a sword fight breaks out between dorm residents, rumors about Paul Volcker ’49 circulate, and more.

July 10, 1804—William Robinson is suspended from the College of New Jersey following a fight that escalated to him attacking another student with a sword: “Upon asking them the cause of the disturbance, Mr. Robinson said that while he was conversing with his roommate, Mr. B came to his door and ordered him to make less noise, which he took as an insult, and went to his room to ask what he meant by it. …Mr. Barrat related the circumstances as just stated, with this addition, that Mr. R when he first came into his room, struck at him several times with the sword, but that he did not receive any wound except a very slight one on his arm. Mr. Robinson acknowledged the whole, but pled that he did not intend to strike Mr. B with the sword.”

July 11, 1861—Samuel P. Carter of the Class of 1839 receives orders to report to the Secretary of War for duty. Carter will organize an infantry brigade of other Tennessee residents loyal to the Union and adopt the code name “Powhatan.”

July 13, 1987—An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal today speculates that Paul Volcker ’49, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, will soon join the Princeton faculty, but the University declines to comment. (The Journal‘s reporting is accurate.)

Paul Volcker ’49, ca. 1991. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 121.

July 14, 1949—Over 60 Princeton alumni celebrate Bastille Day by holding a reunion at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The unusual crowd in orange and black ties draws local press coverage.

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.

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.

Class_of_1847_undated_AC112_Box_AD24_Folder_1

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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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!