This Week in Princeton History for July 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a material shortage forever alters a Princeton tradition, an alum is forced to take charge, and more.

July 20, 1943—Due to shortages of the material needed, all members of the Class of 1945 who want beer jackets must have registered their requests already. No unregistered student will be eligible. University Store officials say that the material shortage will mean that the Class of 1945 will have to dispense with the overalls, and just have a jacket. This change will ultimately be permanent.

The Class of 1945’s beer jacket graphic was designed by John M. Kauffman ’45. The “Toll Tiger” (a take on the mascot popularized by Henry Toll ’42) holds a rifle and wears a medal to symbolize the class’s military service. The tiger looks puzzled as a symbol of the uncertainty the class felt about the future. The tiger’s shadow is the shadow of the self, whose straw hat, club tie, cane, bottle, and book reflect expectations of college life that were not fully realized. The numbers for the class year are written in broken lines to symbolize that class unity was shattered by World War II, with the cross line of the numeral “4” remaining solid to reflect the war’s intervention in separating students from one another. For his work, Kauffman was given a free jacket. Beer Jacket Designs Collection (AC313), Box 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 15-21

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 1899 dons mourning clothes, protesters urge an end to sweatshop labor, and more.

February 15, 1899—To honor Ralph Wilson Simonds, formerly a member of their class, the Class of 1899 will wear mourning crépe for a period of twenty days beginning on this day. Simonds died fighting in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. Simonds is the third member of the Class of 1899 to have died before graduation; a fourth will follow a few months later.

February 16, 1999—About 250 protesters march from Firestone Plaza to Nassau Hall urging an end to sweatshop labor in the production of Princeton-licensed apparel.

Protesters march toward Nassau Hall to urge an end to sweatshop labor in the production of Princeton-licensed apparel. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

February 17, 1883—A number of students are delinquent on their poll tax payments.

February 19, 1985—The speech by former president Gerald Ford the Undergraduate Student Government attempted to arrange will not take place today because the administration has said Ford’s $13,500 honorarium is too expensive for a single speech.

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 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.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

Princeton University and the Spanish American War

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more.

When the United States intervened on behalf of Cuba in 1898, the naval ship USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor. Though the cause remains unclear, popular belief was that Spain was responsible. Americans were outraged. Princeton University students, enthusiastic about the possibility of fighting for their country, agitated to enlist to fight in the Spanish-American War.

On April 2, 1898, students demonstrated their feelings in what the Chicago Daily Tribune called “an outburst of patriotism.” They cheered for U.S. President William McKinley, the American flag, and Cuba. They marched through town dragging the Spanish colors through the streets and carrying pro-American and pro-Cuban slogans, a dozen American flags, and one Cuban flag. Finding their way to the residence of former U.S. President Grover Cleveland on Bayard Avenue, they cheered for him as well. They then went on to the home of Princeton president Francis Landey Patton, who addressed the students with praise for McKinley. Patton’s words were met with more cheering. After this parade through town, the students returned to Cannon Green, where they burned Spain’s King Alfonso XIII in effigy, waved flags, joined hands, danced in circles around the cannon, and sang, “O me, O my; how we’ll make the Spaniards cry!”

Following this display, physical geography professor William Libbey encountered Patton and James Ormsbee Murray, Dean of the Faculty, looking deeply unsettled, “so much so that the gloom impressed me,” Libbey later wrote. Students were planning to enlist en masse, and Patton worried that this would be the end of Princeton University. “We are afraid that they are going to break up [the] College,” Patton told Libbey. Libbey said he had an idea: he could go to the enlistment meeting the students planned and organize military drills for them on campus, providing an outlet for their emotions while keeping them in school. Patton agreed to the plan.

William Libbey, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photographs Series (AC067), Box FAC59.

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