This Week in Princeton History for July 26-August 1

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the ADA takes effect, the Campus Center’s first birthday draws hundreds of guests, and more.

July 26, 1993—The Americans with Disabilities Act now protects Princeton employees from discrimination in the job application process and in the workplace.

July 27, 1833—An unnamed Princeton student is carrying the will of a man on death row, Joel Clough, to the prisoner’s mother.

July 28, 1986—The Daily Princetonian warns incoming students about the mandatory swim test, which requires all new Princetonians to prove they can stay afloat for 10 minutes.

July 31, 1944—The Campus Center celebrates its first anniversary in Murray-Dodge Hall with a birthday cake and about 700 guests. In its first year, it has served refreshments to an average of 10,000 students and servicemen per month.

People walk by Murray-Dodge Hall, ca. 1940s. Photograph by Elizabeth Menzies. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP38, Image No. 1126.

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.

Does Princeton Have a Mandatory Swim Test?

Dear Mr. Mudd,

Is it true that Princeton has a mandatory swim test for freshmen? Furthermore, was this test instituted after the drowning death of an alumnus, whose parents gave the university a pool on the condition that all students were trained to swim to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again?

New Students Card for William Humphreys ‘1928
Historical Subject File, Box 122, Folder 7

Princeton did indeed have a swim test, but this test was not instituted because of the death of an alumnus. It is, however, easy to see why this story would develop and create a lasting legend.

Continue reading