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.


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.


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.

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Additional ACLU Collections Available


There are now 3 more American Civil Liberties Union finding aids available online and accessible to the public:

Series 2: Project Files
The Project Files series contains the records of twelve of the ACLU’s projects, which each addressed an area of civil liberties violations. Project records typically consist of case files, research files, project publicity correspondence. The best documented projects are the Children’s Rights Project Women’s Rights Project, to a lesser extent the Arts Censorship Project, Capital Punishment Project, Reproductive Freedom Project.
Series 3: Subject Files
The Subject Files series contains articles, reports, court documents, and other materials collected by the ACLU during the course of their work. The main subjects are drugs, homelessness, and Supreme Court nominations, largely of Robert Bork. Other significant subjects in the series include campaign finance, discrimination, environmental equity and racism, school pension plans, state constitutions, and welfare.
Series 4: Legal Case Files
The Legal Case Files series documents the ACLU’s involvement in litigation, ranging from files collected on cases for research purposes to records of cases they were significantly involved in. The records include documents filed with the court, correspondence, lawyer’s notes, depositions and expert testimony, transcripts of the trials, newspaper clippings, and research materials on the background of the case and legal precedent.
The Legal Case Files series contains records about over 1,500 cases, with the majority being files collected on non-ACLU cases for research on the broad range of civil liberties which the ACLU investigates. Common subjects include the separation of church and state, public education, racial and sexual discrimination, injustice in the legal system, illegal surveillance and search, and protecting the freedom of speech and expression, as well as politics and voting, information access and privacy, fair employment and health care practices, and immigration. Cases which are particularly well documented include Carlos Rivera v. John Rowland about the public defender system in Connecticut and three cases about public education: Brown v. Board of Education, Charlet v. Legislature of Louisiana, and Harper v. Hunt.

For more information about the ACLU collections check out our recent post:

-Adriane Hanson