This Week in Princeton History for April 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, classes resume while war rages on,  Harvard raises money for Princeton, and more.

April 16, 1778—The Board of Trustees votes to attempt to resume classes, despite the war that interrupted them in the first place still being waged.

April 19, 1880—Sophomore Alfred M. Terriberry dies from drinking contaminated water. Several other students who drank from the same well are also ill. In response, Princeton officials promise to regularly check the purity of the wells supplying water to student lodging.

April 20, 2002—Three buses of Princeton residents, including undergraduate and graduate students from Princeton University, arrive in Washington, D.C. to join with at least 50,000 others in a rally to support the rights of Palestinians.

April 21, 1925—Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club gives the entire proceeds for its performance of “Laugh it Off” in Newark to their Princeton counterparts in support of the proposed Triangle Club Theater (later named McCarter Theater).

The star of “Laugh It Off” was Harvard’s H. E. Carillo ’26. Photo from Daily Princetonian Photographic Weekly.

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 February 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, hazing makes national headlines, McCarter Theater opens, and more.

February 18, 1878—During a particularly severe outbreak of hazing, a gunfight breaks out on Nassau Street between freshmen and sophomores, with one student being shot in the thigh. Coverage in the national Police Gazette will follow.

Full-page ad from the Daily Princetonian.

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Demystifying Mudd: Reprocessing

By Nicky Steidel ’18

This summer I have worked on reprocessing the Triangle Club Records, representing just one slice of the the holdings in Mudd Library.   

Triangle Club prides itself on being the the oldest touring collegiate original musical comedy organization in the nation” and boasts a whole cast of well-known alumni, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Stewart, José Ferrer, and Brooke Shields, among others. Historically, Triangle has garnered both praise and notoriety for its punchlines, kicklines, and male cross-dressing, although of course female students have participated since “A Different Kick” in 1968.

Mudd’s collection reflects Triangle’s longevity. It contains materials from 1883 until the present day in a variety of formats. I’ve handled everything from bound scores from the late 19th century to U-matic tapes (the forgotten predecessor of the VHS tape) to old shellac records (be careful with them, because they’ll shatter!) to a variety of musical theater ephemera (costume jewelry, set designs, even a seal embosser). Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for April 30-May 6

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the College of New Jersey takes a step toward becoming a university, a woman is named Dean of the College for the first time, and more.

May 1, 1989—The economics department is polling students about their experiences with sexism alongside the usual questions on course evaluations at the direction of chair Richard Quandt ’52, but students and faculty are confused about the motivations behind the survey.

May 2, 1879—The Princetonian reports that, in “One step towards a University,” “A medical Department has been started at the Halsted Observatory.”

Halsted Observatory, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image 8669.

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This Week in Princeton History for January 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the nation mourns Claiborne Pell, the Triangle Club loses their rehearsal space, and more.

January 2, 1884—Physics professor Cyrus Brackett testifies as an expert witness in a lawsuit between American Bell Telephone Company and the Peoples Telephone Company, one in a series known as the “telephone cases” in which the Supreme Court will rule on who should own the inventor’s patent to the telephone.

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Cyrus Brackett, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photograph Series (AC059), Box FAC12.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 12-18

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the debate team wins its argument over football with Harvard, a yearbook cover change draws complaint, and more.

December 12, 1896—First Lady Frances Fulsom Cleveland draws student notice as she shops for a house in Princeton for her family to move into after Grover Cleveland finishes his presidency.

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Frances Fulsom Cleveland. Grover Cleveland Collection (AC348), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Hoagie Haven stops delivering sandwiches, the campus holds its first beauty contest, and more.

December 5, 1950—University employees vote on whether to participate in the Social Security plan.

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Social Security election notice, November 29, 1950. Office of the Dean of the Faculty Records (AC118), Box 128, Folder 3.

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A Lotta Kicks: 125 Years of the Triangle Club

By Jessica Serrao

Join us at the Mudd Library as we celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Princeton University’s Triangle Club with an exhibit featuring archival materials from the Triangle Club Records housed in the University Archives. The exhibit walks you through some highlights from the past century and a quarter bringing to light the extensive history of this Princeton standard. Playbills, photographs, sheet music, memorabilia, travel plans, costume sketches, and, of course, punny titles, can all be found in this exhibit, and to a much greater degree in the Triangle Club Records.

The history of the Triangle Club is long and involved, but it’s still kicking today. During the mid-nineteenth century, dramatics at Princeton began in fits and starts as it struggled to take hold within a college steeped in Presbyterian morals. By 1883, religious views softened and Triangle Club’s predecessor formed as the Princeton College Dramatic Association (PCDA). “David Garrick” was PCDA’s first production held May 10, 1883. By 1891, PCDA had joined forces with the University Glee Club to stage its first musical performance, “Po-ca-hon-tas.” It was so successful, it was performed again the next year with revisions.

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Some of the cast of “Po-ca-hon-tas,” 1891. Triangle Club Records (AC122), Box 93.

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Howard Edwards Gansworth and the “Indian Problem” at Princeton

For people of European descent carving out space for themselves in the present borders of the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a major barrier: people already lived there. The nation did not regard this as an insurmountable hurdle, however. America tried a variety of things as it expanded westward: driving Native Americans across continually shifting borders, attempting to assimilate them into a dominant white culture, and employing a variety of approaches in between. As the United States consumed more and more territory occupied by American Indians who attempted to maintain ownership, conflicts worsened. In the late 19th century, a crisis point had been reached. In 1890 and 1891, the Lakota Sioux fought a losing battle over treaty violations and land use with the United States Army. The Ghost Dance War resulted in the deaths of dozens of combatants on both sides and hundreds of Lakota Sioux civilians during its best-known battle, the Wounded Knee Massacre. During this period, Native Americans came under particular scrutiny.

At the College of New Jersey (Princeton), opinions were mixed about this so-called “Indian Problem.” A few weeks after the Ghost Dance War ended, students debated what should be done. One claimed “that though the good Indian was not the dead Indian, yet the good Indian had not yet been found.” Samuel Semple of the Class of 1891, who was selected as the winner of the debate’s $1,000 prize, argued that the only thing to do was to adopt Richard Pratt’s program of forced assimilation, removing Native American children from their homes and sending them to boarding schools. Pratt later famously summed up his program’s rationale in this way: “All the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

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Cliosophic Society Archives (AC016), Box 84, Folder 31.

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“This Is More Than a School”: James M. Stewart ’32’s Princeton

When we launched our Tumblr page in January 2015, we filled it with a variety of content on the history of Princeton University, but it didn’t take long for us to discover that one alumnus in particular consistently received a lot of attention on the platform: James Maitland Stewart ’32. In honor of this, we currently have an exhibit case in our lobby dedicated to Stewart’s long-term connection to Princeton: “‘This Is More Than a School’: James M. Stewart 32’s Princeton.”

Jimmy Stewart, the son of Alexander “Eck” Stewart of the Class of 1898, wrote on his 1928 application to Princeton that he chose it due to family connections and his belief that Princeton “is by far the best equipped to give me a broad, profitable education, provided that I apply myself diligently to the work.” His dreams of becoming a civil engineer, however, were short-lived. Diligent work proved a challenge in the face of tempting recreational activities. He later told Princeton Living, “College algebra was like a death blow to me.” He did especially poorly in a Shakespeare course and “did not survive Spanish.” Unable to keep up in his classes, Stewart was forced to attend summer school to avoid flunking out. At the end of Stewart’s freshman year, his math professor told him, “You’d better think very seriously about being something else [other than a civil engineer], or you’ll be in deep trouble.”

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Grade card for James Maitland Stewart ’32, Undergraduate Academic Records 1920-2015 (AC198), Box 25. To better understand Stewart’s academic struggles, see our previous blog post explaining the 1-7 grading system used here. N.B.: Access to student academic records is governed by this policy.

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