This Week in Princeton History for August 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a change allows for Greek literature to be studied in English, a professor offers encouraging words in Alexander Hall, and more.

August 3, 1898—Harold Perry Smith of the Class of 1898 sets sail for Puerto Rico, having enlisted in the Army immediately after his graduation in order to fight in the Spanish-American War.

August 6, 1936—Registrar Wilbur F. Kerr announces some new offerings in the fall curriculum. Because incoming students are no longer assumed to have studied Greek ahead of matriculation, Greek literature may be studied in English, and the Classics department will also offer a course in elementary Greek. Due to a broader interest in modern languages, Princeton will also now offer a course in Japanese.

August 7, 1880—The Trenton Sentinel reports that applications for admission to Princeton are down. The Sentinel attributes the decline to the spring’s typhoid epidemic: “The recent sickness at the college has something to do with it.”

August 8, 1894—In an address to “a company of historical pilgrims” in Alexander Hall, Professor William Sloane says “The lesson to be learned from Princeton’s historic scenes should be that intellect and not numbers controls the world; that ideas and not force overmaster bigness; that truth and right, supported by strong purpose and high principle, prevail in the end.”

Alexander Hall, ca. 1900. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045), Box 1.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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Acción Puertorriqueña and Divisions among Puerto Ricans at Princeton

By Mario Garcia ’18

Founded in 1972, Acción Puertorriqueña—later known as Acción Puertorriqueña y Amigos—was a student group initially consisting of Puerto Rican undergraduates and later allies who sought to create spaces for Puerto Rican cultures on Princeton’s campus through cultural events and student-led activism. Such celebratory events included the beginnings of Latino Graduation in 1990 and National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1989 as commemorations of the experiences of Princeton students descending from Latin American ancestry, while activist initiatives included lobbying for seminars related to Puerto Rican histories and recruitment programs for Puerto Rican students in the 1970s as strategies for empowering Puerto Rican communities on campus.

Event flyer, 1981. Carl Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding Records (AC342), Box 1.

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