This Week in Princeton History for February 12-18

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, debates over fallout shelters are taking place, Henry Fairfax makes his last deliveries, and more.

February 12, 1962—The Fallout Shelter Committee presents its recommendations to Princeton University president Robert Goheen, provoking debate over the school’s responsibilities to local residents and visitors in the event of a nuclear attack.

Map of fallout shelters at Princeton University, ca. 1962. (Click to enlarge.) Office of Physical Planning Records (AC154), Box 32.

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Becoming Henry Fairfax

By April C. Armstrong *14, Madeline Lea ’16, Allie Lichterman ’16, and Spencer Shen ’16, with special thanks to Megan Chung ’19

April C. Armstrong *14

In a blog post about Princeton’s imaginary community members several months ago, I wrote about Henry Fairfax, a mythical figure who delivered Valentines to freshmen and sophomores in the 1970s and 1980s. After rediscovering him, I had an idea. What if we, as the Princeton University Archives, revived Henry?

Fortunately, the University Archivist (Dan Linke) and Assistant Archivist for Public Services (Sara Logue) were agreeable to my plan. Alongside the rest of the staff in Public Services at the Mudd Manuscript Library (Christa Cleeton, Rosalba Varallo Recchia, and Sara), I designed a Fairfax Valentine for today’s students using a reprint of a Princeton postcard from at least a century before and ordered 250 copies. I then turned to my student employees. We divided the campus into zones where they would take the Valentines, essentially becoming Henry themselves. For four days leading up to Valentine’s weekend, they fanned out across Princeton, slipping in and out of libraries, classrooms, laundry rooms, dining areas, and dormitory common spaces to hide the postcards. The Valentines gave Mudd’s email address in case recipients had curiosity about anything else that might have happened at Princeton and suggested they tweet at us to let us know they’d found them.

Front & back

The front and back of our Fairfax Valentines. The original Valentine postcard we used is from our Historical Postcard Collection (AC045), Box 4.

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