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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This Week in Princeton History for June 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a freshman requests the right to wear a top hat, women make national headlines for Commencement firsts, and more.

June 4, 1930—In a letter to the editor of the Princetonian, a member of the Class of 1933 requests an end to rules limiting the wearing of top hats to upperclassmen on the grounds that “this piece of apparel is indispensable to anyone having any regard for correct social usage… The Freshman or Sophomore feels self-conscious and is at a decided disadvantage in not being permitted to dress himself properly.”

Getting to wear top hats was one of the things that marked the transition from Princeton sophomore to junior in the early 20th century. Here, rising juniors march in Princeton’s annual High Hat Parade in 1915. The tradition began in the 1870s as a way to formally signify that one now had a right to wear a top hat and carry a cane on campus. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP16, Image No. 4072.

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Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton

By Michelle Peralta

This academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the decision of the Board of Trustees to admit women to Princeton as undergraduates. To celebrate this landmark, the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library is pleased to present “Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton.”

Michelle Peralta measuring and selecting materials for inclusion in “Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton.” Photo by April C. Armstrong.

Maria Katzenbach ‘76 gave an account of some of the hostility she encountered as member of one earliest co-educational classes:

I am certain that he expected me to nod in agreement and accept my responsibility for having destroyed his alma mater. I should leave him alone in his paradise of men, and not go where I was not wanted… I didn’t like being taken for Eve, and blamed for being one to deprive him of paradise because my own pursuit of knowledge had led me to my father’s school…I should have known reason had nothing to do with it. He was no more interested in expanding his horizons than Adam. His garden was gone, and I was responsible. 

quoted in Women Reflect About Princeton, edited by Kirsten Bibbins, Anne Chiang, and Heather Stephenson (1989)

I curated the exhibition with a few themes in mind: 1) the activism that push through staid traditions, beloved though they may have be, and 2) the changes that came about with the admittance of women, many a result of the aforementioned activism, helped to create the modern Princeton campus. The themes are explored through such areas of as academics, athletics, but also in student groups and organizations like the Women’s center. Also highlighted are early women of Princeton and the decision to become an co-educational campus, as well as the intersectional identities of many women that have shaped their student experiences at Old Nassau.

“Redefining Old Nassau: Women and the Shaping of Modern Princeton” will be on display at Mudd Manuscript Library through the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

“Studying Is Fine, but Living Has Been Another Problem”: Mary Procter *71 and Coeducation at Princeton

Earlier this year, I began telling the story of the female graduate students who paved the way for undergraduate coeducation at Princeton University starting in 1961. This blog continues that story with a focus on Mary Procter *71 (often misspelled as Mary Proctor *71) and her unusually influential role while a Princeton graduate student.

Procter got then-Provost William Bowen’s attention with a 1968 letter to the Daily Princetonian that took campus men to task for their treatment of the few undergraduate women who were in Princeton classrooms at the time as exchange students in the Critical Languages Program. Procter made vague reference to the fact that the band had referred to these women as “cunning linguists” and made other crude jokes about them during the halftime show at the Princeton-Harvard game. Anonymously signing her letter as simply “Female Graduate Student,” Procter had written, “I had always thought that men’s universities produced men, lusty and bawdy if you will, but not sniggering sickly creatures, obsessed with double meanings which suggest that they are not interested in girls so much as lollipops or bits of mashed potato.” Procter later said she wrote in to the Prince because she was “furious” and felt “Princeton does not deserve to be coed.”

Jackie Johnson *70, Katie Marshall *69, and Mary Procter *71. Photo from the Princeton Alumni Weekly, May 13, 1969.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 25-July 1

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a junior converts to Christianity, the centennial is celebrated, and more.

June 28, 1873—Rioge Koe, a Japanese student in the Class of 1874, gives his sword to Princeton president James McCosh. He writes a note to accompany the sword asserting that he has “surrendered a barbarous custom of ‘the East’ before the higher, nobler and more enlightened manner of the Western civilization” on the occasion of his conversion to Christianity.

We believe that this is Rioge Koe, Class of 1874, center, ca. 1873. This image is cropped from the Class of 1874’s junior year photo, found in the Historical Photograph Collection, Class Photographs Series (AC181), Box MP03. The Princetonian described Koe as “a popular and able man.” During McCosh’s presidency, ethnic diversity increased on campus. Koe’s time at Princeton overlapped with Hikoichi Orita of the Class of 1876, who also converted to Christianity while a student here, as well as Yokichi Yamada and Girota Yamaoka, who both pursued a partial course load in the 1871-1872 academic year.

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