This Week in Princeton History for March 25-31

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian urges an alumni organization to hire editors with more “integrity”, a new program in electrical engineering is announced, and more.

March 25, 1965—Detectives find no explanation for the apparent suicide of lecturer Robert M. Hurt, 29, described by colleagues as “relaxed” and “cheerful” prior to his death.

Robert Hurt, ca. 1960s. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photographs Series (AC059), Box FAC51.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 19-25

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, confusion arises over the date Thanksgiving should be celebrated, a plagiarized editorial weighs in on Anita Hill’s testimony, and more.

November 20, 1807—The faculty appoint a committee “to arrange the library and to draw up some regulations to prevent the further waste of the books.”

Part of arranging the library was probably preparing a catalogue. This copy was handwritten by Joseph Skelton in 1810. Princeton University Library Records (AC123), Box 4A.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library makes a significant change in how it catalogs books, the Board of Trustees is divided over a hiring decision, and more.

February 5, 1976—University Librarian Richard Boss announces that new materials will use the Library of Congress classification system rather than the Richardson system unique to Princeton, originally developed in the 1890s by Boss’s predecessor, Ernest Cushing Richardson. Richardson felt that the Dewey classification system was inappropriate for a research library. However, in the open stacks, books with Richardson numbers would not be completely phased out until 2011.

An employee shelves books in the Princeton University Library, ca. 1970s. The call numbers here are all Richardson numbers. (Click to enlarge.) Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP06, Image No. 132.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 25-October 1

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Gest East Asian Collection finds a new home, a prominent feminist argues in favor of women’s suffrage, and more.

September 25, 1760—The Board of Trustees add knowledge of “Vulgar Arithmetick” to the existing admission requirements.

September 26, 1972—The Gest East Asian Collection moves to a dedicated library of its own in Palmer Hall.

East Asian Studies graduate student Deborah Porter *89 studying in Princeton University’s Gest Library, 1985. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 219.

September 28, 1915—A meeting “In the Interest of Woman Suffrage” is held in Alexander Hall. The speaker, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale, author of What Women Want: An Interpretation of the Feminist Movement, says, “Men and women are not equal, and as individuals never can become equal, but we do believe that they should have equality of opportunity.”

October 1, 1862—The Nassau Literary Magazine reflects on a changed campus at the College of New Jersey (Princeton): “Ours has been no ordinary college-course… we were forcibly reminded that all the terrors of a civil war were just about to burst upon us. The Southerners soon turned their backs upon these classic shades, and ’63 suffered with the rest; one after another has dropped from our number, and now scarcely half its former size the class is passing through its senior year.”

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 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the first Triangle Show is performed, two freshmen kick a soccer ball to Manhattan and back, and more.

May 2, 1983—Reporters descend on Princeton University to ask current students for their reaction to the news that Brooke Shields has been admitted to the Class of 1987.

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Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 14-20

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library extends its hours, an election bid makes history, and more.

March 14, 1974—Princeton University begins advertising for bids from contractors to remodel the Dormitory and Food Services warehouse into the nation’s 125th Wawa food store.

Office of Physical Planning Records - AC154 Cabinet 4, Drawer 7

Original architectural mockup of the Wawa food store, Office of Physical Planning Records (AC154), Cabinet 4, Drawer 7. Click here for an image gallery.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, sophmores take over Quadrangle Club, the Suffrage Walking Pilgrims make their way through campus, and more.

February 8, 1991—Frustrated by their unsuccessful efforts to join other eating clubs during Bicker, 100 sophomores stage a “takeover” of Quadrangle Club, one of the sign-in clubs. Current membership of the club is apprehensive about the likely results of this influx of new members (now over 60% of the total membership).

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Quadrangle Club, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD02, Image No. 7824.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 25-31

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a dissertation defense occurs 46 years late, Robert Frost gives a poetry reading, and more.

January 25, 1992—75-year-old professor emeritus Milton Babbitt earns his Ph.D. in musicology 46 years after he initially submitted his dissertation for review, having passed a surprise oral exam. Though viewed as impressive, groundbreaking work, his thesis on the mathematics of the 12-tone system was rejected in 1946 because Princeton University’s Department of Music then only offered a Ph.D. in historical musicology, not theory and composition. At that time, the music faculty deemed his work “unreadable” despite praise from his outside reader in the mathematics department, professor John W. Tukey. Colleagues felt he deserved a second opportunity to complete the degree and resubmitted his dissertation for review without his knowledge.

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Milton Byron Babbitt’s Princeton University Graduate School scholastic card, Graduate Alumni Records (AC105), Box 50. Note the “degree granted” date in the lower right corner.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 28-January 3

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Woodrow Wilson stamps are selling fast, all computers go offline, and more.

December 28, 1925—The Princeton post office sells more than 3,000 Woodrow Wilson stamps on their first day of issue to approximately 700 people. Among the sales is a sheet of 100 to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of the Princeton University Library.

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We believe these are from the sheet of stamps purchased by the Princeton University Library on December 28, 1925. Woodrow Wilson Collection (MC168), Box 45, Folder 12.

December 31, 1999—In anticipation of the “Y2K bug,” Princeton University disconnects all of its computers and servers from the internet.

January 1, 1814—James M. Garnett (Class of 1814) writes of an incident in Nassau Hall: “Today to refresh us after our labours, we had a great dinner, composed of Pigs, Geese, Irish potatoes, minced-pies, hickory nuts, cider, & wine. The President [Ashbel Green] did us the honour to dine with us, and gave us a toast; when he rose to give it he commanded silence which want of politeness gave such offence to some of our well-bred company that they returned the toast with a scrape” (i.e., the students scraped their shoes on the floor to protest).

January 2, 1946—Ground is broken on Firestone Memorial Library.

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Early construction of Firestone Memorial Library. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD04, Image No. 8264.

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 December 14-20

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the campus rallies around a professor targeted by a racist screed, a new library draws patrons despite a broken furnace, and more.

December 14, 1757—The College of  New Jersey (Princeton) Board of Trustees vote to send a representative to meet with the ecclesiastical council that will decide whether Jonathan Edwards may be released from his ministerial duties in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to assume the responsibilities of President of the College.

December 15, 1990–The Princeton University campus reels from news of a racist letter sent to Director of Afro-American Studies Nell Painter asserting that she “does not have the intellectual worth to teach at the college level.” Administrators, faculty, and students scramble to express their support of the history professor.

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Nell Painter, ca. 1990. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

December 17, 1873—College of New Jersey (Princeton) President James McCosh reports that Chancellor Green Library is complete, with the exception of a non-functional furnace; the cold does not prevent the library’s use, as 26 people per day borrow books.

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Chancellor Green Library (pictured with old Dickinson Hall at left), 1873. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC112), Box MP013, Image No. 327.

December 20, 1946—It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart ‘32, premieres at the Globe Theatre in New York. The Daily Princetonian will give it a positive review despite the film’s “excessive sentimentality and overwrought tension.”

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.