This Week in Princeton History for October 11-17

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an alum makes an influential argument in favor of segregation, a controversial article about Jimmy Stewart ’32 appears, and more.

October 13, 1958—Carleton B. Putnam ’24 writes his infamous “Putnam Letter” to Dwight D. Eisenhower. He argues that segregation is so important that it must be preserved, even if a constitutional amendment is necessary, on the basis that people of African descent are inferior and Southern whites should have the right not to have to associate with them.

October 14, 1948—A controversial profile of Jimmy Stewart ’32 appears in Tiger Magazine. Its authors assert that Stewart is washed up and lacks social skills.

Jimmy Stewart ’32 in Tiger Magazine, October 14, 1948.

October 16, 1997—Blair Hall appears in an ad for AT&T in the New York Times promoting the use of wireless office phones.

October 17, 1875—The campus community attends the funeral of LaForest Dutton, Class of 1879, in the College Chapel, then follows the procession to the students’ lot in Princeton Cemetery for his burial. The Whig Society will wear mourning clothes for 30 days.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, staffing levels force the U-Store to close for one hour each day, the CIA notes payments have been sent to researchers involved in secret experiments, and more.

July 5, 1945—Due to “depleted staff,” the Princeton University Store will close for lunch from 1:00-2:00PM daily beginning on this date through September 10th.

Clipping from the Princeton Bulletin.

July 6, 1936—The Princeton Township Committee discusses the challenges they face as those employed at Princeton University’s eating clubs and other academic-year-only positions will require public aid to meet expenses “due to summer lay offs.”

July 7, 1922—Eva and Edward McEwen, who work at Dial Lodge and Cap and Gown Club, respectively, welcome the birth of their daughter, Eva Felica McEwen, who will later serve Princetonians at Rockefeller College and will tell students stories about the desegregation of all of the town’s educational institutions. “I can remember working for professors (at their homes) when I was only in high school who said they didn’t want ‘different ones’ there. … They knew they didn’t want Afro-Americans, they did not want Jewish people. I knew this because they told me. And I couldn’t understand that.”

July 9, 1958–As part of project MKULTRA, which is conducting secret experiments with LSD at 86 American colleges, the CIA notes it has made payments of more than $3,000 to two Princetonians through “an unwitting consultant” at Princeton University.

For the previous 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 October 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, women gather to discuss sexism on campus, a new kind of roof is being installed for Nassau Hall, and more.

October 5, 1978—Female students and staff hold an exclusive meeting to discuss sexism on campus. Barring men from the meeting is controversial, but the women say this is necessary, “because a lot of women feel uncomfortable saying things in front of men that they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying in front of women.” At the meeting, women complain about inadequate medical care, discriminatory employment practices, and professors who penalize female students for refusing their sexual advances.

Marsha Rosenthal ’76 collected a variety of material on women’s issues while she was a student at Princeton University. This pamphlet, published by Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in 1973, is among the reading material apparently available to Princetonians in the 1970s and is evidence of the concerns of the community.  Marsha Rosenthal Course Materials and Student Activism Materials (AC409), Box 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Class of 1877 takes a look at the Milky Way, a campus publication urges the institution to examine its own prejudices while continuing to fight bigotry beyond it, and more.

March 18, 1932—Campus proctors apprehend a bootlegger on campus and find 74 quarts of champagne and whiskey in his car hidden among golf bags, suitcases, and books.

March 20, 1877—The Class of 1877 has the opportunity to look at the Milky Way (the “Queen of Heaven”) through a telescope with the help of Prof. Stephen Alexander.

Stephen Alexander, ca. 1880. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photographs Series (AC058), Box FAC03.

March 22, 1999—Over 200 people gather in Princeton University Chapel for an impromptu memorial service a few hours after Matthew Weiner ’02 died suddenly of cardiac arrest during a pickup basketball game.

March 23, 1944—In Princeton’s Roundtable News, John Kemeny ’46 editorializes, “Even one of the most enlightened of groups, the students of Princeton University, is hysterical at the thought of admitting negroes, and it makes them talk about forming lynching parties and copying the Nazi party in many other ways. … It is about time that we realized that a fascist is an enemy not only in Berlin and Rome, but also in Chicago and New York.”

For the previous 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 April 9-15

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a group of undergraduate activists derail a segregationist group on campus, the Nassau Literary Review protests police abuse of firearms, and more.

April 9, 1964—Activists in favor of integration carry out a coup in the leadership of the Committee for Racial Reconciliation, a pro-segregation student organization, electing African American Robert F. Engs ’65 as its vice president, making headlines and sparking immediate controversy throughout the United States.

Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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Lost and Found: Segregation and the South

By Dan Linke and Brenda Tindal

Title screen

Martin Luther King and ___ on bus.

Martin Luther King riding a Montgomery bus after the boycott.

A recently donated film long thought lost has been digitized and is now viewable online.  “Segregation and the South,” a film produced in 1957 by the Fund for the Republic, reported on race issues in the South since the 1954 Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case.  It examined the slow progress of integration at elementary and secondary schools and colleges, as well as the white backlash to the decision.  It also documented the Montgomery bus boycott.  Much of the footage came from news organizations like CBS and NBC that was re-packaged, but some original material was filmed in Clarksdale, Mississippi, by writer and director James Peck.  Broadcast on June 16, 1957, a Sunday, from 5-6 p.m., it aired on over 30 ABC affiliates, 12 in the South, but none in the Deep South.

Narrated by prominent voice actor Paul Frees, pioneer television journalist George Martin Jr. served as executive producer, and it was Martin’s son who donated his father’s copy of the 16mm film to the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Many notable civil rights figures of the time are featured (though some are not identified) including  Ralph Abernathy (31:56: “No we’re not tired”), UN diplomat Ralph Bunche (16:35: “No one has ever been known to enjoy rights posthumously”), NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall (7:10 and 16:56), Rosa Parks (31:17 where she tells of her refusal to give up her seat on a bus that sparked the boycott), and NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins (7:51 and 10:03).   In addition, the prominent union leader within the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, A. Phillip Randolph, is featured (10:07).

Martin Luther King is featured prominently several times (7:42: “There is a brand new Negro in the South, with a new sense of dignity and destiny;” 34:02; 36:56; 38:30; 38:46; and at 39:07 responding to the violent backlash that followed the end of segregated buses in Montgomery:  “Yes, it might even mean physical death , but if physical death is the price that some must pay to free our children from a permanent  life of psychological death, then nothing could be more honorable.”)

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