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.”

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This Week in Princeton History for December 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a history professor gets national attention, undergraduates protest new library rules, and more.

December 7, 1776—The British Army reaches Princeton to begin the “20 days of tyranny.” Annis Boudinot Stockton hides the papers of the College of New Jersey’s American Whig Society while burying her family silver on the Morven estate. Later, she will be posthumously elected as Whig Hall’s first female member.

December 8, 1998—Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz makes the news for his testimony before the United States Congress, saying to House Republicans aiming to impeach President Bill Clinton, “…history will track you down and condemn you for your cravenness.” The New York Times will later editorialize that his testimony was a “gratuitously patronizing presentation,” but Wilentz will respond that he has been misunderstood.

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Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz, 1994. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 193.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Firestone Library opens, the campus reels from domestic terrorism, and more.

September 7, 1948—With much of the interior construction not yet complete, Firestone Library opens to students and faculty for the first time.

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Interior of Firestone Library, ca. 1948. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD04, Image No. 8223.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 8-14

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Bob Dylan finds inspiration at Commencement, a sitting U.S. President visits Princeton for the first time, and more.

June 8, 1976—To raise money for various projects, the Princeton University Library auctions off an “Inverted Jenny” stamp from its collections for $170,000.

June 9, 1970—Bob Dylan receives an honorary Doctorate of Music from Princeton University, on the grounds that “Although he is now approaching the perilous age of thirty, his music remains the authentic expression of the disturbed and concerned conscience of young America.” Dylan’s experience at Princeton will later inspire the song, “Day of the Locusts.”

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Bob Dylan at Princeton University’s 1970 Commencement. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box AD31, Folder 23.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 9-15

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, underclassmen get a chance to read more books, the College of New Jersey changes its name, and more.

February 9, 1999—Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner Wendy Wasserstein speaks on the experiences of a female Jewish playwright and public reaction to her award-winning 1989 play, “The Heidi Chronicles,” in McCormick Hall. Wasserstein’s best-known work is probably the 1998 screenplay The Object of My Affection, starring Jennifer Aniston.

February 10, 1890—The Princetonian announces that freshmen and sophomores may now take three books out of the library at once, a privilege previously reserved for upperclassmen.

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Some of the books students might have checked out of the Princeton University library in 1890. (Photo taken in 1947.) Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP4, Item No. 66.

February 12, 1970—Princeton mathematics professor Gerard Washnitzer *50 is delivering a lecture at a seminar at the University of Pennsylvania when Robert H. Cantor opens fire on two Penn professors before turning the gun on himself. One of the Penn professors, Walter Koppelman, will die of his injuries two weeks later.

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Gerard Washnitzer, ca. 1970s. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 116.

February 13, 1896—The Board of Trustees officially change the name of the College of New Jersey to Princeton University.

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Board of Trustees Minutes (AC102), February 13, 1896.

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 February 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a junior saves two friends after an avalanche, Tiger Inn holds its first coed bicker, and more.

February 2, 1953—Princeton University junior John K. Ewing ’54 saves the lives of Richard H. Evans ’55 and John E. Stauffer ’54 in the aftermath of an avalanche on Mount Washington. The following May, Ewing will die tragically in another mountain climbing accident in Connecticut’s Sleeping Giant State Park, at the age of 19.

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John Kennedy Ewing IV’s Class of 1954 Freshman Herald photo (taken ca. 1950).

February 3, 1991—Tiger Inn holds its first coed Bicker.

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This group photo from the 1992 Bric-a-Brac is the first such Tiger Inn photo to include female Princetonians.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Albert C. Kinsey’s groundbreaking report is sold out everywhere (even the library!), students urge the administration to admit women, and more.

January 5, 1948—The Albert C. Kinsey report, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” is published. It will be immediately sold out at every bookstore in town. All of the University Library’s copies will be sent to the University Store and also sold so quickly that nobody notices the mistake until none are left.

January 6, 1919—The Faculty decide to accept the Department of War’s offer to establish a field artillery R.O.T.C. at Princeton. The program will include training with horses as well as weaponry.

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Princeton University R.O.T.C. with a canon outside Palmer Stadium, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP189, Image No. 5100.

January 7, 1914—Dr. John Miller Turpin Finney (Class of 1884), first president of the newly-formed American College of Surgeons, addresses the Medical Club in Dodge Hall.

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This photo of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) Class of 1884 was donated to the archives by Dr. Finney’s wife. Historical Photograph Collection, Class Photographs Series (AC184), Box LP4.

January 8, 1965–The Daily Princetonian runs a special report on the damage admitting only men to the University is causing to its students and editorializes, “hopefully, we’ll be sending our daughters, as well as our sons, to Princeton.” The report concludes, “Today young men want women—not simply as sex objects, as those who lead the argument into rather fruitless digressions maintain—but as companions, as sharers of common experiences.”

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Princeton University’s (all male) 1965 Cheerleading Squad. Photo from the 1965 Bric-a-Brac.

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