This Week in Princeton History for June 7-13

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, members of the Class of 1875 refuse masters degrees, a member of the “Old Guard” complains about the presence of women, and more.

June 7, 1794—Catherine Bullock, age 22, niece of the Morgans who own Prospect Farm, dies of an illness, but her grave on the family’s land will spark generations of rumors among Princeton students to suggest her death was somehow more salacious until the grave is moved off campus in the 20th century.

June 8, 1877—Members of the Class of 1875 refuse the A. M. degree on the grounds that “we do not merit a general literary degree…”

June 10, 1890—The cornerstone is laid for Clio Hall’s new building, an enlarged copy of the original built in the 1830s.

June 13, 1914—The presence of women in the P-Rade on this day disturbs some alumni. Van Tassel Sutphen, Class of 1882, will write to the Princeton Alumni Weekly,

in these days of militant feminism I am well aware that I am taking a perilous position in venturing to deny any privilege whatever to the newly dominant sex. Pray don’t misunderstand me, for I am quite ready to admit that woman has her appointed place in the great scheme of creation; it is her ministering hand that still soothes the fevered brow, it is she who stands ever ready to answer the telephone, upon occasion we may even permit her to supplement the family income by taking in washing. She has won her footing in the market place; we are always glad to welcome her on her infrequent visits to the home; we are not wholly averse to inviting her to enter the polling booth. But, gentlemen of the ‘Old Guard,’ the line must be drawn somewhere, and I would draw it at the Alumni P-Rade; I contend that a woman has no more business in that galley than I would have at a mother’s meeting, unless indeed this is the first insidious step (God forbid!) towards turning Princeton into a co-educational institution.

The Class of 1904 marches in the 1914 P-Rade. Photo from 1916 Bric-a-Brac.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 12-18

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, women’s tennis plays its first game, violence breaks out over fashion, and more.

April 12, 1971—Women’s tennis plays its first game, defeating Penn 5-to-1.

Photos of women playing tennis from Princeton University’s 1971 Bric-a-Brac.

April 14, 1947—As the New Jersey telephone workers strike enters its second week, picketers are seen in town with signs reading “Neither Ma Bell or Pa Driscoll can enslave us.” Although the University switchboard operators are not involved, because they are employees of Princeton University rather than the telephone company, this does mean that no calls can be made to anyone off campus except in cases of emergency.

April 16, 1931—The Undergraduate Council unanimously condemns some students who have been seen wearing denim overalls, because they look too much like beer suits. “Yesterday’s spectacle of a few Juniors and a few Freshmen wearing light blue and dark blue overalls respectively…constituted an attempt to break down a privileged tradition of many years standing which belonged exclusively to the Senior Class.” Some of the underclassmen have also bought matching denim jackets. The store that sold the clothes to the students has been threatened, but owners vow to sell overalls and jackets to whomever they like in spite of the threats. Violence has broken out on campus, with seniors attacking underclassmen wearing denim on Prospect Street. The juniors are calling their outfits “Applejackets.”

This ad, which appeared in the April 16, 1931 issue of the Daily Princetonian, suggests how seriously the owners of the store that sold denim overalls to underclassmen took the threats they’d received from members of the Class of 1931.

April 17, 2001—Princeton president Harold Shapiro urges Chinese president Jiang Zemin to release Shaomin Li *88. Li was detained by Chinese security forces on February 25 and has not yet been charged with a crime.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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Dear Mr. Mudd: Why Was There a Woman in Princeton University’s Texas Club Before Coeducation?

Dear Mr. Mudd,

Looking at the photograph posted on the Princeton University Archives Tumblr of the Texas Club in 1960, I see a woman, but Princeton wasn’t fully coeducational until 1969. Where did she come from?

So far, we’ve been able to learn that the woman in the front row, far left, had the last name Riedel, but we haven’t been able to confirm anything about her specifically beyond this. Texas Club, 1960. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box AD39, Folder 27.

Although to some extent this woman remains a mystery to us as well, there are other women we can see in photographs of extracurricular clubs at Princeton University in the early 1960s. The Bric-a-Brac provides some clues for us about who they may have been. Princeton University may not have admitted women as undergraduates until 1969, but women were on campus for a variety of reasons before then. In all probability, women in Princeton’s extracurricular clubs were students at other colleges in the area. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for January 25-31

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a photographer finishes a series of images of places and people on campus, an alumni accent is criticized, and more.

January 25, 1877—The Princetonian reports that a “female servant” is working in Witherspoon Hall.

January 26, 1808—Robert Livingston of the Class of 1809 is brought before the faculty on the charge of taking a bottle of wine with him while sleighing. He says that he got the wine from a Black man, whom he does not name.

January 27, 1869—William Roe Howell has completed a series of photographs of the campus and its people.

Three unidentified men stand in front of William Roe Howell’s photographer’s shanty, ca. 1869. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP75, Image No. 3005.

January 30, 1828—Connecticut’s Middlesex Gazette criticizes the accent of some Americans: “And even now, you will hear this abominable dialect in the middle and southern states, where the old graduates of Princeton college, and others, pronounce—tchooter, and Ychoosday, and opportchoonity, &c. &c.”

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 November 9-15

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a graduate student gets help from the FBI to track down stolen microscopic slides, the YWCA opens a Hostess House for Navy officers in training, and more.

Couple at Princeton, ca. 1950. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 1, Folder 2.

November 9, 1959—A graduate student has gotten the help of the FBI and is offering a $100 reward to anyone with information that leads to the discovery of his 500 stolen microscopic slides, which represent 3 years of research.

November 11, 1949—Princeton’s debate team loses to Yale on the question of whether women should commit suicide to avoid premarital sex or rape. Princeton argues that they should. Yale’s winning dissent focuses on how men will suffer if women die to avoid “dishonor.” “Dishonor can be fun. … Princeton’s theory can only result in mass feminine suicide. Shall we deprive the world of a ravishing woman simply because she is in danger of being ravished?”

November 12, 1928—Wallace M. Sinclair, Class of 1904, survives the sinking of the SS Vestris off the coast of Virginia, which kills more than 100 people.

November 13, 1918—The Princeton Girls Patriotic League (later the YWCA) opens a Hostess House in Quadrangle Club for the men training to be Navy paymasters who are living at the Graduate College.

Princeton’s Girls Patriotic League is visible behind the women of the New Jersey Red Cross in this parade down Nassau Street to raise money for the Liberty Loan Fund in 1918. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8646.

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 November 2-8

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, two seniors are attacked while watching the polls, gender disparities in pension plans are defended, and more.

November 4, 1845—A large group of students accompanies the body of Richard Stockton Boudinot, Class of 1847, to Newark for his burial. Boudinot died following an accidental gunshot wound to the head.

November 5, 1987—The Daily Princetonian reports on the experiences of the town’s au pairs, many of whom are employed illegally. More than 20 young women from a variety of foreign countries live and work in the homes of local families for $100-$150/week (about $230-$340 in 2020 dollars). Often, they spend time on campus in the evenings, because there is so little to do in town.

November 7, 1933—A group of six men attack two Princeton seniors. H. A. Rutherford and Morgan Wing, Jr., both of the Class of 1934, are engaged in poll watching for the Fusion Party in New York when the attack happens. An attack on Fusion Party headquarters by six men this same night indicates a political motivation.

November 8, 1974—Discrimination in Princeton’s pension plans, which pay female retirees less per month than their male counterparts, is illegal, but the university defends its practice on the basis that women live longer.

Men and women at work in Princeton University’s New South Hall, 1966. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD05, Image No. 8659.

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 24-March 1

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor speaks publicly about his escape to America as a fugitive deserter from the Prussian cavalry, the school song gets new lyrics, and more.

February 24, 1883—Professor Joseph Kargé gives a lecture in the Old Chapel, “The Crisis of My Life,” telling the story of how he escaped to America as a fugitive deserter from the Prussian cavalry.

Joseph Kargé, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box 77.

February 26, 1987—After months of debate among students, alumni, and administrators, Princeton University announces that the lyrics to the alma mater, “Old Nassau,” will be officially changed. “My boys” will replaced by “we sing” and “her sons will give while they shall live” will change to “our hearts will give while we shall live.”

“Old Nassau” arranged for male voices, 1905. Princeton Music Collection (AC056), Box 10. (Click to enlarge.)

February 29, 1956—A Princeton sophomore is acquitted on charges of shooting out street lights with a revolver. He will later plead guilty to another charge related to the incident (carrying a concealed weapon).

March 1, 1875—Students are pushing for Princeton to hire women to clean their dorm rooms: “Sweeping and bed-making is women’s work, and there is no reason whatever why we should not have women to do women’s work in our dormitories. Their services can be procured for one-third less wages than is paid the miserable Irishmen who now pretend to set our sanctums in order.”

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 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, wives are organizing for women’s rights, a new eating club is organized for those looking for something less expensive, and more.

February 17, 1970—Elaine Showalter and Molly Oates, wives of Princeton faculty, lead a discussion of women’s rights in the Old Graduate College Common Room at a meeting of the local chapter of the National Organization of Women. The group of 40 is seeking opportunity to match their educations and abilities. Oates: “Women are unpaid servants of the institution for which a husband works—they entertain and bake cookies. A woman’s position is determined by her husband’s.”

Elaine Showalter, ca. 1990s. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series 9 (AC067), Box 17. Showalter was teaching at Douglass College (Rutgers University) in 1970. She joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1984. For more on faculty wives and their advocacy for broadening women’s roles on campus, see our previous blog post on this topic.

February 21, 1871—A group of women puts on a minstrel show. It is so popular among Princetonians that they are invited back for an encore in March.

February 22, 1998—David Milanaik ’98 gives a presentation entitled “Jew Man Group” about his conversion to evangelical Christianity to a small group of students at Forbes Theater. Milanaik has sparked controversy on campus due to his partnership with Jews for Jesus.

February 23, 1941—Members of the Class of 1943 organize Prospect Cooperative Club, a less expensive option for students who cannot afford Princeton’s traditional eating clubs.

Prospect Cooperative Club, ca. 1942. Photo from 1943 Bric-a-Brac.

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 January 20-26

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Graduate School reports increased diversity, gym users ask for protection from prying eyes, and more.

January 20, 1949—At “the first 11:00 catharsis in 15 years,” students celebrate the end of final exams with flaming tennis balls and a mock war.

January 21, 1970—The Daily Princetonian reports on an increase in the diversity of the Graduate School’s student population: Black enrollment, at 2.5% (38 students), is seven times what it was in 1967 and a 50% increase in the number of women since 1966 has brought the total number of female graduate students to 200.

Graph showing Graduate School enrollment 1964-1972. Graduate School Records (AC127), Box 67.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 24-30

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the sophomores conduct their annual end-of-year book burning ritual, women are enrolled in a course for the first time, and more.

June 25, 1980—Ernest Gordon, Dean of the Chapel since 1955, retires.

Ernest Gordon, undated. Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel Records (AC144), Box 35.

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