This Week in Princeton History for August 29-September 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, whether Commencement will take place is uncertain, Princeton sets up temporary housing, and more.

August 29, 1878—An article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the state of baseball in America notes that some amateur teams are far better than the professional ones. “In this respect, Princeton College bears off the palm, her College nine being about the best in the list…”

August 30, 1832—As fears mount about the ongoing global cholera pandemic, the New York Spectator warns that Princeton’s Commencement may not take place: “the occurrence of this annual celebration will depend on the health of the country.”

August 31, 1995—Certificates of occupancy are issued for 10 temporary residential units rented from After Disaster. It was necessary to rent these units to accommodate an incoming class with 65-70 more students than anticipated.

Temporary housing units, 1995. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box AD03, Image No. 7872.

September 1, 1945—Three Marines are awarded Purple Hearts at a ceremony on Goldie Field. All Navy V-12 and Marines trainees on campus participate.

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This Week in Princeton History for August 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a dean dreams of pretty postcards, the natural history museum receives a significant donation of specimens, and more.

August 15, 1923—Andrew Fleming West, Dean of the Graduate School, writes to a friend about his hopes to get attractive postcards printed showing scenes around campus: “They have such cards at Oxford and Cambridge—really artistic souvenirs—some from photographs, some from pen-and-ink drawings. Why, O why can’t we do it?”

This postcard booklet contained 16 images from Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary’s campuses, with Nassau Hall on the cover (shown here) and the Graduate College on the reverse. It appears to date from the 1930s or 1940s. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045).

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This Week in Princeton History for August 1-7

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an alum encourages political revolution, a newspaper speculates on the reasons 32 Princeton students have flunked, and more.

August 2, 1781—Preaching to “a large assembly,” James Power (Class of 1766) urges support for the American Revolution. “Think of ye cruel acts of ye British parliament,” he says, “by which we and our children ar[e] to be made slaves forever, and the money which we had earned by the sweat of our brows taken from us without a reason rendered for so doing.”

August 3, 1901—The Trenton Evening Times speculates that the failure of 32 students at Princeton on their recent exams—meaning they will all drop back one year—is the fault of an overemphasis on athletics.

“Athletics” section header from 1901 Bric-a-Brac. The largely forgotten rallying cry on the fireplace in the illustration, “Oranje Boven,” is Dutch for “Orange on Top.” It was once a popular cheer for fans at Princeton sporting events, but today, you’ll be more likely to hear it from fans of soccer in the Netherlands.

August 4, 1942—To support the local Community Canning Kitchen, a group of undergraduates picks 13 bushels of apples from a local garden, which other volunteers will turn into applesauce.

August 5, 2010—The U.S. Senate votes 63-37 to confirm Elena Kagan ’81 as a Supreme Court justice.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a material shortage forever alters a Princeton tradition, an alum is forced to take charge, and more.

July 20, 1943—Due to shortages of the material needed, all members of the Class of 1945 who want beer jackets must have registered their requests already. No unregistered student will be eligible. University Store officials say that the material shortage will mean that the Class of 1945 will have to dispense with the overalls, and just have a jacket. This change will ultimately be permanent.

The Class of 1945’s beer jacket graphic was designed by John M. Kauffman ’45. The “Toll Tiger” (a take on the mascot popularized by Henry Toll ’42) holds a rifle and wears a medal to symbolize the class’s military service. The tiger looks puzzled as a symbol of the uncertainty the class felt about the future. The tiger’s shadow is the shadow of the self, whose straw hat, club tie, cane, bottle, and book reflect expectations of college life that were not fully realized. The numbers for the class year are written in broken lines to symbolize that class unity was shattered by World War II, with the cross line of the numeral “4” remaining solid to reflect the war’s intervention in separating students from one another. For his work, Kauffman was given a free jacket. Beer Jacket Designs Collection (AC313), Box 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 11-17

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a baseball player turns pro, a former instructor laments the loss of the gymnasium, and more.

July 11, 1818—London’s Literary Gazette overviews the state of American college education, singling out Princeton as the only institution with “any systematic lectures on moral philosophy.” The writer goes on,

The Americans have no standard for pronunciation; their English is nevertheless tolerably incorrupt, yet they read Latin and Greek in the Scottish manner, owing to the dead languages having been taught by persons belonging to that country.

July 14, 2003—Thomas Pauly ’04 signs a contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

July 16, 1979—The Department of Health, Education and Welfare announces a grant of $250,000 to Firestone Library to index and catalog collections of Chinese materials, English and American literary manuscripts, and the American Civil Liberties Union records. The grant will also support microfilming of a file of Arabic manuscripts.

July 17, 1944—In a letter to Dean Kenneth H. Condit that is printed in this date’s issue of the Princeton Bulletin, former graphics instructor Harry M. McCully writes from New Guinea, where he is serving in the Army, “Mother sent me a clipping about the fire in the Gym…I know it was a sad day at Princeton.”

Trophy room of Princeton’s University Gymnasium after fire, 1943. Department of Facilities Records (AC041), Box 34.

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This Week in Princeton History for June 13-19

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a team sets off to compete in the Olympics, a group of women gain access to campus resources, and more.

June 13, 1900—The track team sets off for Paris to compete in the Olympics.

June 14, 1943—The newly formed Citizens’ Committee for a United Nations Front organizes a Flag Day rally held in Frick Auditorium. At the rally, Princeton’s president, Harold Dodds, warns, “We must avoid the temptation after this war to inflict our particular beliefs on others.”

June 16, 1877—There is a new iron fence in front of Nassau Hall.

June 17, 1889—Princeton’s Board of Trustees votes to give Evelyn College students use of Princeton’s Library and museums.

Evelyn College students, ca. 1890. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 332, Folder 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, war bonds are on sale, faculty prohibit students from participating in a 12-hour walking match, and more.

April 20, 1942—Students can buy war bonds in Clio Hall today.

War bonds brochure, ca. 1942. Office of the Vice President and Secretary Records (AC190), Box 35, Folder 7.

April 21, 1979—A report on NBC Evening News considers the changing mores at Princeton University, where some students complain of intense pressure to have sex. Bill Kirby, introduced as “a sex therapist who is also Princeton’s Methodist chaplain,” says the cultural rules have changed from a prohibition on sex to a prescription for sex—the culture demands that students must be “a sexual gourmet, a sexual Ph.D.”

April 22, 1884—Natural history professor George Macloskie is elected chairman of the Prohibition Convention in Trenton and also delegate-at-large of the National Prohibition Convention.

April 23, 1879—Locals join in the pedestrianism fad by staging a 12-hour walking match, but faculty prohibit students from participating.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 28-April 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students join Anthony Comstock’s quest to rid America of vice, Princeton circulates a questionnaire for its “enemy aliens,” and more.

March 29, 1888—In a lecture to the Philadelphian Society, Anthony Comstock convinces many Princeton students to join his cause. This week, some of them will vote for a resolution to “express our thorough appreciation of Mr. Comstock’s work, and endorse his efforts in the suppression of vice.” Comstock opposes obscenity, abortion, contraception, gambling, prostitution, patent medicine, and women’s suffrage. The Philadelphian will note in its April issue, “It is a long time since the college has been stirred by any speaker as it was by the plain, straightforward, earnest words of Mr. Comstock.”

April 1, 1942—Princeton University circulates a questionnaire for its “enemy aliens” among its students, faculty, and staff.

Questionnaire sent to “enemy aliens” at Princeton University, April 1, 1942. (Click to enlarge.) Office of the Treasurer Records (AC128), Box 10. 

April 2, 1876—Some frosh take revenge on a mathematics tutor they say has wronged them by detonating a pound of explosives outside his door. The explosion breaks a window and sends part of his door flying into the room, damaging his sofa, Pittsburgh’s Daily Post will later report.

April 3, 1868—“Delta” writes in Princeton Standard: “This is a great town for customs, and for ancient, venerable, and time-honored things in general. We hear of them everlastingly. They are the burden of the song by day and by night. … Next to a ridiculous veneration for old customs, Princeton’s greatest enemy is her overweening self-conceit.”

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This Week in Princeton History for February 28-March 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an honorary degree is controversial, students fear smallpox, and more.

March 1, 1836—The Baltimore Literary and Religious Magazine expresses outrage that Princeton has awarded William Gaston (Class of 1796) an honorary L.L.D., because they disapprove of thus honoring a Catholic. “We pronounce it a most gross outrage on all Protestant, and under the circumstances, on all proper feelings.”

William Gaston, Class of 1796. Undergraduate Alumni Records 1748-1920 (AC104), Box 60.

March 2, 1899—In spite of reassurances from the faculty that there is no danger of it spreading, many students have left Princeton out of fears of contracting smallpox from a fellow student who has a mild case.

March 4, 1943—Princeton receives word that its director of the Bureau of Student Aid and Employment, Richard W. Warfield ’30, who was on leave to serve in the Marines, has become the first Princeton administrator to die in World War II.

Richard Warfield ’30. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box 18.

March 6, 1982—A few disapproving locals smash a Terrace Club window during a Gay Alliance of Princeton dance at the clubhouse.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an ad invites students to participate in an experiment, Princeton pledges all of its resources to government, and more.

December 6, 1875—As the United States approaches its Centennial year, former Senator and future Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz lectures to students on the positives and problems in American government, attributing a “decline in moral sentiment and political tone” to widespread corruption and loyalty to party over statesmanship.

December 8, 1961—A classified ad invites students to participate in a sensory deprivation experiment to determine how hallucinations might be induced, though they are not informed of the purpose of the study.

Classified ad from the Daily Princetonian.

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