Freddie Fox ’39 about old and new: “A Walk in the Springtime,” 1974

After last week’s film about living and learning at Princeton in 1962, it is interesting to watch “A Walk in the Springtime,” created only twelve years later. The film features the legendary Frederic C. Fox, ’39, whose love and knowledge of Princeton’s history and lore made him the first and only Keeper of Princetoniana in 1976. Helped by his classmate Sandy Maxwell ’39 and Arthur (Buz) Schmidt ’74 (“He looks like a radical but he is only just the son of a classmate” 0:18) Fox reaches out to the many alumni who were uncomfortable with the rapidly changing face of campus.

As with other colleges, the civil rights movement and American involvement in Vietnam had sparked political activism at Princeton, including student demand to be part of campus governance. In addition, the traditionally all-male primarily white, Protestant, private-school educated student body had diversified.  Of particular concern for conservative alumni was the introduction of coeducation in 1969. In the film Fox, Maxwell, and Schmidt, take viewers on a tour, with the aim to show that although some things have changed much is still the same.

The film opens with Freddie Fox in front of Nassau Hall’s two bronze tigers, pointing out that one is male and the other female (1:25). After a brief visit to Firestone Library, Fox, Maxwell, and Schmidt sing Princeton songs at the piano in Prospect (8:38). The last part of the film, shot from the top floor of Fine Hall (11:56), contains extensive shots of the old and new buildings on campus.

Outtakes are shown below. Frederic C. Fox died in 1981 at age 63.

These Umatic UC-30 videos are part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (items no. 0516 and 0528).

These Umatic UC-30 videos are part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (items no. 0516 and 0528).

Exhibition celebrates 50th anniversary of University Archives

The richness and depth of the collections of the Princeton University Archives are the focus of “‘The Best Old Place of All’: Treasures From the Princeton University Archives,” a new exhibition at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library opening Friday, Feb. 20.

The exhibition coincides with the yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the University Archives and features some of the most historically significant documents and objects from the collection alongside seldom-seen treasures. It will run through Friday, Jan. 29.

“The goal of this exhibition is to illustrate the University’s long and impressive history and, in doing so, to celebrate and reflect upon the vital role of the University Archives in preserving and documenting that record,” said University Archivist Dan Linke.

Featured in the exhibition are documents, photographs and objects from the University Archives covering the time of the institution’s founding to the modern era. A page from the 1783 minutes of the Board of Trustees contains the trustees’ request that George Washington sit for a portrait so that they might replace the work of King George that was destroyed in the Battle of Princeton. Nearby, a draft of then-University President Woodrow Wilson’s vehement argument on the matter of the location of the Graduate College hints at another battle fought on campus more than a century later.

Many of the objects capture the ever-changing nature of student life and academics at Princeton. Early course examinations, class schedules and a set of handwritten student lecture notes from the time of John Witherspoon (who was University president from 1768 to 1794) exemplify how, though times may have changed, the purpose of the typical Princeton student has remained largely the same. One notable exception to that credo can be seen in the form of a so-called “cheating cuff,” which hearkens back to the days before the Honor Code. Early 20th-century football programs and photographs from Triangle Club shows point to extracurricular pursuits.

In addition to paper documents and photographs, “‘The Best Old Place of All'” draws upon the extensive memorabilia collection of the University Archives. Items such as canes, clay pipes and the Reunion jacket of Adlai Stevenson — the influential politician and diplomat who graduated from Princeton in 1922 — are all a part of the University’s heritage. Other objects such as the discus that 1897 alumnus Robert Garrett threw in the 1896 Athens Olympics and a blackball box used during eating club “bicker” selections represent some of many curiosities that have found their way into the archives in the last 50 years.

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Historical Postcard Collection available online

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library’s Historical Postcard Collection has been digitized is now available online through the Princeton University Library’s Digital Collections website:

The Historical Postcard Collection consists of over 500 postcards documenting the buildings and environs of the Princeton University campus. Featuring both monochrome and color postcards, the bulk of the collection ranges in date from 1900 through the 1960s. Both unmarked and canceled postcards exist in the collection.


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Maclean Papers Acquired With Support of Princetoniana Committee Members


A significant collection of John Maclean, Jr. Papers has been acquired by the University Archives, thanks to the generosity of 11 Princetoniana Committee members. Maclean, President of the College of New Jersey from 1854-1868, saw the College through trying times such as the Nassau Hall fire of 1855 and the Civil War years. At the heart of the new collection are scores of letters written to Maclean during his tenure as President. The content of the letters ranges from official business of the President to personal matters of individual students. The collection also includes materials pertaining to Maclean’s parents and extended family, such as an 1814 inventory of the possessions of Maclean’s late father, the College’s first chemistry professor [See image of John Maclean Sr.’s inventory of possessions, top].

The papers complement Maclean material already held in the University Archives in the Office of President Records. “These papers represent a significant addition to our holdings on John Maclean, both in quantity and quality,” said University Archivist Dan Linke. “Maclean was an important figure in Princeton’s history, serving on its faculty and as an administrator for over 50 years. I am pleased that members of the Princetoniana Committee recognize this acquisition’s significance and that they continue their generosity in support of the Archives.”

Those who supported the acquisition are Steven Brown ’77, Dave Cleaves ’78, Scott Clemons ’90, Donald Farren ’58, Jan Kubik ’70, Gregg Lange ’70, Sev Onyshkevych ’83, Cynthia Penney ’83, Robert Rodgers ’56, Jonathan Sapan ’04, Paul Sittenfeld ’69 and Frank Sloat ’55.

A preliminary finding aid for the papers is available online. Mudd staff will process the collection this spring and a full description of the collection will be available by the summer.

Visit here or here for more information on John Maclean Jr.

Related Collections:

Office of the President Records, 1746-1999 (bulk 1830-1869, 1933-1957) Finding Aid (AC117)

John Maclean Letters and Papers, circa 1750-1890 Finding Aid (CO342)

Alumni give 1836 Copybook to University Archives


A wonderful end of the year gift came to the Princeton University Archives through the generosity of eight alumni who serve on the Princetoniana Committee. The item, a copybook from Class of 1836 graduate Samuel Humes Porter, was for sale on eBay. Dave Cleaves ’78, the organizer of “pBay”–a group of alumni who collect Princetoniana–noted the item’s availability on Sunday, December 16, and by week’s end, led by Sev Onyshkevych ’83 and joined by Steven Brown ’77, Cleaves, Scott Clemons ’90, Donald Farren ’58, Cynthia Penney ’83, Jonathan Sapan ’04, and Frank Sloat ’55, the copybook was on its way to the Archives.

Though small in size (3″ x 5.25″), the book’s importance is due to its scarcity. The University Archives has very little documentation prior to 1855 due to the Nassau Hall fire that year, and next to nothing that documents individual students’ work. University Archivist Dan Linke reports that this is the first copybook from that era. The book includes lines of poems from Coleridge, Sidney, Spenser and Pope, as well as translations from Latin and Greek, all written in an exceptionally crisp hand. Porter’s penmanship was so fine that he worked several government clerkships before becoming a lawyer.

Due to extended deterioration of its binding, the book is currently being treated by the Preservation Lab and is unavailable for review, but it should be available in the Spring.