A Campus Divided: The Iraq Wars and Princeton University

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more. We will be hosting a panel discussion on February 28, 2018 at 1:00PM featuring Robert Rivers ’53, Bob Durkee ’69, and the Princeton University ROTC’s Lt. Col. Kevin McKiernan to discuss the impact of war on Princeton from the World War II era to the present. This event is free and open to the public.

We’ve also recently added a small case with materials about America’s two wars with Iraq in 1991 and 2003-present in our lobby which will be on display along with the rest of the exhibition through June 2018.

As the Persian Gulf Crisis worsened toward the end of 1990, the opinions expressed on Princeton’s campus revealed stark contrasts between those in favor of war and those opposed to it. Teach Peace, a student-faculty organization formed in late November 1990 to promote dialogue on the Gulf Crisis, organized a variety of protest activities, including peace vigils, public demonstrations, teach-ins, and guest lectures. Many of the professors who lectured at teach-ins had been active in anti-war protests during the Vietnam War. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for February 19-25

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Thurgood Marshall begins a lecture series, faculty and students gather for a teach-in about a pending war, and more.

February 19, 1964—Thurgood Marshall begins a series of lectures on “The Constitutional Rights of the Negro.”

February 20, 1991—As escalating hostilities suggest the United States is on the brink of war with Iraq, members of the Princeton University community gather for a day-long teach-in about the Persian Gulf crisis at the Woodrow Wilson School.

Teach Peace organized many events during the Persian Gulf Crisis in 1990 and 1991. This flyer advertises another teach-in held November 29-30, 1990. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 204, Folder 12. For more on the impact of war on education at Princeton, please join us for a panel discussion on February 28.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate becomes governor of Georgia, the first gymnasium opens, and more.

January 8, 1999—Six cases of alcohol poisoning and other incidents attendant to the event will lead University President Harold Shapiro to ban the Nude Olympics, which occur for the last time at Princeton on this night.

Daily Princetonian cartoon depicting press attention at the Nude Olympics, 1991. For more about the history of this event and why it no longer occurs, please see our previous blog.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 27-December 3

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, undergraduates protest the presence of African Americans in chapel, a computer virus is spreading all over campus, and more.

November 28, 1868—Students at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) begin circulating a petition to ban African Americans from chapel exercises after James McCosh allows a black student from Princeton Theological Seminary to attend his lectures on the life of Jesus, but few faculty are willing to sign it and McCosh remains unmoved.

Clipping from New York Tribune, December 8, 1868. The relevant portion reads as follows: “A young man (colored), of fine abilities and address, a graduate of a Western college, and at present a student of the Theological Seminary of this place, has dared to present himself at the College Chapel on Sunday afternoon for the purpose of listening to the President’s [McCosh’s] lectures without the permission of the sympathizers of the ‘Lost Cause,’ who feeling themselves deeply injured are now circulating a protest, which being duly signed, will be presented to the Faculty protesting against the further privilege of colored men entering the Chapel during any Chapel exercise. Thus far no movement has been made by the more liberal minded against this pernicious protest, for they have confidence in the good sense of the Faculty, and believe that such an article will be treated by them with contempt.”

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This Week in Princeton History for June 19-25

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a scientific expedition begins, the institution declines to pay for extra policing, and more.

June 21, 1877—A group of twenty sets off on Princeton’s first scientific expedition to the North American west, during which they will collect paleontological and geological information in Colorado.

Princeton’s first scientific expedition camping in Fairplay, Colorado, 1877. Princeton Scientific Expeditions Collection (AC012), Box 3, Folder 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 22-28

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, protesters are arrested at Nassau Hall, a professor urges Princetonians to buy Liberty Loan bonds, and more.

May 22, 1949—Nassau Hall’s flag flies at half mast as a tribute to James V. Forrestal, a member of the Class of 1915 and the nation’s first Secretary of Defense, who died after jumping out a window on the sixteenth floor of Bethesda Naval Hospital on this date.

James Forrestal, ca. 1940s. Official U.S. Navy Photo. James V. Forrestal Papers (MC051), Box 188.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) delights the campus with a surprise appearance, protests greet a segregationist governor’s visit, and more.

May 8, 1989—A freshman diagnosed with the measles is admitted to the McCosh Health Center, prompting approximately 500 students to get a booster vaccine to prevent an outbreak on campus.

May 9, 1901—Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) surprises students with an unadvertised appearance in Alexander Hall, where he gives a reading of his work and entertains the crowd with stories about his adventures in Nevada and his attempts to learn German.

This letter from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), most likely to Stephen Van Rennseler Throwbridge, Class of 1902, dates from ca. 1901 and seems to accept an invitation to speak at Princeton “as long as one would only have to talk, & not have to talk long, nor make preparation.” Pyne-Henry Collection (AC125), Box 2, Folder 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 17-23

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, protesters demand changes to the curriculum, a Dean’s List is instituted, and more.

April 18, 1878—The Princetonian urges the College to allow the Librarian to install gas lights in the library so that it may be kept open after dark.

Chancellor Green Library, 1873. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP26, Image No. 609.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 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 junior wins a game show, a graduate makes history at MoMA, and more.

March 20, 2003—Three students are arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway when they sit in the middle of Nassau Street bound to each other with piping to protest the Iraq War. One explains their choice to break the law: “We’ve exhausted all the other means of protest. … Any other tactic seemed inadequate in the light of the horror inherent in the attacks on the Iraqi people.”

March 22, 1951—Richard W. Kazmaier, Jr. ’52 defeats opponents on the television show Blind Date and goes out on the town with Pat Dowd of Brooklyn.

Richard Kazmaier ’52. Photo from 1952 Nassau Herald.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 13-19

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor starts a controversial contraceptive hotline, the campus agrees on a method for resisting the British crown, and more.

February 13, 1967—Vassar’s debate team argues the merits of coeducation in Whig Hall. Vassar’s team, arguing that Princeton should educate women, wins by a vote of 36-11. Both single-gender schools will ultimately become fully coeducational in the same year (1969).

A member of the Vassar debate team makes her argument in Whig Hall, February 13, 1969. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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