This Week in Princeton History for June 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, sophomores host the first big dance, newly unionized staff receive double-digit-percentage pay increases, and more.

June 21, 1877—Princetonians experience their first official big dance on campus. The Sophomore Reception, hosted by the Class of 1879 for the Class of 1877, promises to liven up what the Princetonian has otherwise described as “a first-class funeral” as the typical celebration for graduates. Not everyone is welcome to attend, however; admission to campus requires a ticket, a system designed to “[keep] out the indiscriminate crowd of snobs and negroes.” (“Snobs” is Princeton slang for townies.)

The Sophomore Reception was successful enough to be repeated annually for decades until the Senior Promenade replaced it in the 1930s. This is the cover of the program for the Class of 1894’s Sophomore Reception in honor of the Class of 1892. Student Dances Collection (AC282).

June 23, 1923—The Chicago Defender reports: “Princeton University, notorious for its ‘color line,’ will admit Race [Black] students in the future. Indications are that a new spirit of unity is being developed in the university town between the two Races and the student body, to the effect that deserving Race students prepared to pass the entrance examinations at Princeton will be admitted to the student body.” This will not occur for a few decades.

June 26, 1978—Effective today, the newly unionized Princeton University Library Assistants will receive a 12.5-16.5% increase in pay under the collective bargaining contract. The lowest paid employees will receive the greatest percentage of the increase.

June 27, 1851—Thomas Mifflin Hall, Class of 1853, notes in his diary: “During vacation I neglected to write in my diary, which I have lamented ever since, as it was the pleasantest six weeks I have spent since entrance into college.”

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 June 1-7

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a sitting U.S. president gives the Commencement address, a judge tries to get information about damage to Nassau Hall, and more.

June 2, 1851—Thomas Mifflin Hall, Class of 1853, celebrates his sixteenth birthday at Princeton by attempting to do some work for class: “I did not get out all the lesson, as I fell asleep while studying,” he notes in his diary.


Thomas Mifflin Hall’s diary entry for June 2, 1851. Student Correspondence and Writings Collection (AC334), Box 10.

June 3, 1980—Princeton sophomore Lynda M. Clarizio ’82 casts her vote as a delegate in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district for Senator Ted Kennedy for U.S. President. She was one of eight Kennedy supporters selected from 37 contenders at the April 13, 1980 convention in Bridgewater, New Jersey.


Lynda Clarizio. Photo from Daily Princetonian.

June 4, 1996—Sitting U.S. President Bill Clinton gives the Commencement address at Princeton. He asks students not to forget that Americans have a “common purpose.” “Because of the education you have, if America does well, you will do very well. If America is a good country to live in, you will be able to build a very good life.”


Charles P. Stowell ’96 shakes hands with U.S. President Bill Clinton at Princeton’s 1996 Commencement. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 170.

June 6, 1828—A Middlesex County judge begins an inquiry into a firecracker explosion in a Princeton classroom on May 28, which destroyed its stove and blew out its windows. The faculty minutes note: “three students being called before him, refused to give testimony, avowing their determination to go to jail, rather than be placed under oath at this time.” The judge orders them to return at a later date. Ultimately, a student will anonymously confess and send $150 to cover the damages, and the matter will be dropped.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

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