This Week in Princeton History for April 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Earth Day is observed for the first time, professors hold a rummage sale to raise money for the ambulance corps in France, and more.

April 22, 1970—Princeton Ecology Action leads the University’s first celebration of Earth Day.

Princeton Ecology Action’s 1970 Earth Day program. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 26.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 8-14

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Board of Trustees bans dueling, the contract for construction of the infirmary is awarded, and more.

April 8, 1917—James Barnes of the Class of 1891 outlines a proposal for privately financing an aviation school to Princeton University’s Committee on Military Instruction.

April 10, 1799—In response to a faculty report about a growing trend of students engaging in duels with one another, the Board of Trustees establishes a new policy. They declare any student caught dueling or attempting to duel be subject to immediate expulsion, promising that they “will never fail to match every instance of this crime with the highest expression of their detestation and abhorrence and to subject the perpetrators to that just and pointed infamy which their aggravated guilt demands.”

The expulsion of Alfred Powell of the Class of 1799, pictured above, seems to have been the primary inspiration for the Board of Trustees imposing the penalty of expulsion for dueling. Powell, unlike other students involved, was unapologetic about challenging his peers to duels. Image from Undergraduate Alumni Records 1748-1920 (AC104).

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This Week in Princeton History for February 25-March 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Graduate College remains in control of the U.S. Navy following the end of World War I, the local pastors association prays for their colleagues involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and more.

February 27, 1981—Three students who won election to Undergraduate Student Government as members of the joke group “Antarctica Liberation Front” on a platform of “jihad” against the Hun School of Princeton resign after only one USG meeting.

Princeton University’s Antarctica Liberation Front, ca. 1981. Image from the Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a shipment of coal mitigates a fuel shortage, the Triangle Club performs for Eleanor Roosevelt, and more.

December 17, 1917—A new shipment of coal just after the last bit available ran out means there will be enough fuel on hand to last the winter, bringing relief to concerned Princetonians. Measures will still need to be taken to preserve it.

Clipping from the Daily Princetonian, December 19, 1917.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, college football gets its start, town and gown celebrate the end of World War I, and more.

November 5, 2001—A hazmat team comes to the Woodrow Wilson School to remove a suspicious letter mailed from Canada. Despite mentions of “anthrax” and “dark winter” (believed to refer to a nuclear attack), it will ultimately be determined to be one of many hoaxes plaguing the campus in the wake of Amerithrax.

November 6, 1869—Rutgers defeats Princeton 6 to 4 in the first intercollegiate game of football. The Nassau Lit notes, “The game played was very different from the one to which we are accustomed; and, consequently, a good deal of confusion was created in our ranks.”

This Sports Illustrated advertisement appeared in the issue of Rutgers Athletic News for the Rutgers-Princeton centennial match on September 27, 1969. Athletic Programs Collection (AC042), Box 8, Folder 1.

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“Make This World Safe for the Babies”: The Liberty Loan Committee’s Appeal to American Women

Exactly a century ago this summer, the United States began borrowing money from its own citizens. World War I brought with it the need for dramatic increases in government spending, and appealing to patriotism was one way to find the funding. The Liberty Loan Committee, one of the largest committees in American history, organized highly successful advertising campaigns to convince average Americans to buy Liberty Bonds.

Though today’s Americans consider the purchase of government bonds as routine for investors, it was a major innovation. Borrowing and lending moved to the social mainstream. The Liberty Loan Committee innovated in another way, too, however. Among their many different campaigns was one targeted at women as investors. The Report of National Woman’s Liberty Loan Committee for the First and Second Liberty Loan Campaigns gave the text of an ad they ran in newspapers nationwide, including the line, “For the first time in our remembrance women are asked to come into BIG BUSINESS as partners.”

Liberty Loan Committee Records (MC089), Box 14, Folder 29.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 19-25

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a scientific expedition begins, the institution declines to pay for extra policing, and more.

June 21, 1877—A group of twenty sets off on Princeton’s first scientific expedition to the North American west, during which they will collect paleontological and geological information in Colorado.

Princeton’s first scientific expedition camping in Fairplay, Colorado, 1877. Princeton Scientific Expeditions Collection (AC012), Box 3, Folder 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 13-19

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, uniforms become mandatory, the Shah of Iran honors two graduates, and more.

March 13, 1971—150 students from the Third World Coalition occupy Firestone Library for nearly three hours after closing to protest Princeton’s plan to maintain the percentage of disadvantaged students in the Class of 1975 near 10 percent. They urge an increase in the percentage.

Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 20-26

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a Supreme Court justice visit ignites protest, the women’s squash team completes eight undefeated seasons, and more.

February 21, 1920—Princeton University holds a special graduation ceremony for students who missed their own but have now returned from war.

Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 6.

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Majority of James M. Beck Papers Now Available Online

We are pleased to announce the completion of another digitization project. The bulk of the papers of James M. Beck (1861-1936), who enjoyed a long career as a lawyer, author, public speaker, Solicitor General, and U.S. Congressman, are now available online through the finding aid for collection MC007. Beck served as Solicitor General from 1921-1925 and represented the Philadelphia region as a Republican Congressman from 1927-1934. Researchers interested in a variety of topics will find this collection useful. For those interested in American politics and foreign policy during Beck’s life, the collection holds many items relating to World War I and Beck’s fights against Prohibition and the New Deal. It also reflects Beck’s personal interests in American history and Shakespeare.

Beck_MC007_Box_11_Folder_8

James M. Beck. Photo from James M. Beck Papers (MC007), Box 11, Folder 8.

One subject the collection focuses upon is World War I. Beck’s writings on World War I were widely read. Beck defended America many times against the claims that initial neutrality in the European conflict was rooted in nationalist selfishness: “If the bones of your sons are now buried in France there are the bones of many a brave American boy who, without the protection of his flag … have gone and given their young lives as a willing sacrifice. Therefore, I say to you, men of England, if there are pinpricks, do not misjudge the American people, who have done what they did under the most trying and delicate circumstances…” (Beck, “America and the Allies,” July 5, 1916, p. 19) Later, Beck agreed that conditions had made it necessary for the United States to enter the war, but warned that the outcome of the hostilities of the era would “leave a heritage of hatred among nations” and that someday in the not too distant future Germany and Japan might join forces to fight America and its allies. (Beck, “America and the War”) Our collection contains translations of Beck’s World War I writings and speeches in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Greek. The correspondence he received in response, from all over the world, is also in many languages. Thus, in addition to reflecting American opinions, researchers will find perspectives from diverse nations in the collection.

Another subject the collection provides insight into is the public’s impressions of domestic policies. Beck’s stand against Prohibition earned a mixed response from his constituents, with Lillian Francis Fitch writing to Beck in 1930, “It is more than difficult for me to see how any high-minded, intelligent person can … be a ‘wet’” and C. Pardo writing to praise Beck’s efforts that same year on the grounds that Prohibition “is the work largely of … busy bodies.” Beck’s strong criticism of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which authorized United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to regulate industry in an attempt to stimulate the economy during a period of severe deflation, also resulted a variety of responses. Most letters on the subject in our collection heaped praise upon Beck for his stand, but Cable Welfair urged a more cautious response to the bill: “I am not so terribly disturbed about some of the emotional legislation passed by the last Congress. Things that are said and done when one is excited must be more or less discounted. You don’t have to get a divorce from your wife because she says you are a brute. Maybe she is mistaken; or maybe you are, but can improve.”

A final substantial component of the collection concerns Beck’s private intellectual pursuits. Beck was particularly fond of Shakespeare. The collection includes his correspondence with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Joseph Quincy Adams, and materials related to his membership and presidency in the Philadelphia Shakespeare Society. Researchers will also note that Beck frequently quoted Shakespeare in his speeches. Beck spoke to a variety of audiences on a range of topics in American history as well, and was a frequent guest speaker for the Pennsylvania Society and the Sons of the Revolution. This index to his speeches will help researchers locate these items.