This Week in Princeton History for July 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 Ivy League’s first Black dean dies, the FBI arrests a graduate student and holds him without charges, and more.

July 20, 1998—Carl Fields, a former Princeton University administrator and the first Black dean in the Ivy League, dies at 79.

Carl Fields (center) with members of Princeton University’s Association of Black Collegians, ca. 1960s. Carl Fields Papers (AC365), Box 12, Folder 12.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 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 member of the Class of 1945 survives a bombing in France, the Prince responds to proposed limits on enrollment, and more.

May 25, 1940—Pierre Soesman ’45, who fled Belgium earlier this month, survives a terrifying German bomber attack on the road from Paris to Angers. He will later write of the experience, “When they left, we did not move from the ditch for more than five minutes. Finally, people began to get up, laughing in hysteria.”

May 26, 1921—The Daily Princetonian responds to the news that Princeton will begin limiting enrollment for the first time by kicking off an editorial series urging a holistic approach to admissions decisions rather than one based entirely on test scores.

As Princeton University began limiting enrollment in the 1920s, it instituted a new admissions system that included an application with evaluation from secondary school officials. This is a page from an application from a member of the Class of 1930 found in the Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC198).

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This Week in Princeton History for March 30-April 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library receives a new gift of F. Scott Fitzgerald correspondence, a campus publication rails against women’s suffrage, and more.

March 31, 1967— Charles Scribner Jr. ’43 presents the Princeton University Library with Charles Scribner’s Sons complete correspondence with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917.

An excerpt from a letter F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917, to Max Perkins, his editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, December 20, 1924:
“Hotel des Princes, Piazza di Spague, Rome.
“Dear Max:
“I’m a bit (not very–not dangerously) stewed tonight & I’ll probably write you a long letter. We’re living in a small, unfashionable but most comfortable hotel at $525.00 a month including tips, meals, etc. Rome does not particularly interest me but it’s a big year here, and early in the spring  we’re going to Paris. There’s no use telling you my plans because they’re usually just about as unsuccessful as to work as a religious prognosticater’s [sic] are as to the End of the World. Iv’e got a new novel to write–title and all, that’ll take about a year. Meanwhile, I don’t want to start it until this is out & meanwhile I”ll do short stories for money (I now get $2000.00 a story but I hate worse than hell to do them) and there’s the never dying lure of another play.
“Now! Thanks enormously for making up the $5000.00. I know I don’t technically deserve it considering I’ve had $3000.00 or $4000.00 for as long as I can remember. But since you force it on me (inexorable [or is it exorable] joke) I will accept it. I hope to Christ you get 10 times it back on Gatsby–and I think perhaps you will.” 
Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons (C0101); Manuscripts Division (Firestone Library), Department of Special Collections.

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This Week in Princeton History for December 30-January 5

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Glee Club breaks speed records in the Midwest, the Princeton Alumni Weekly editor is drafted into military service, and more.

December 30, 1893—The Glee Club’s special tour train sets a record for the fastest journey ever taken from Louisville to Cincinnati, covering 119 miles in 136 minutes.

Though the Glee Clubs referred to themselves as part of “Princeton University” on the cover of their 1893-1894 Glee Club tour itinerary, Princeton didn’t officially change its name from the College of New Jersey until 1896. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 193, Folder 6.

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Debating Race at Princeton in the 1940s, Part II: Roundtable News and the Liberal Union

This is the second post in a two-part series examining Princeton University’s debates over admitting African Americans in the 1940s. These debates began in earnest due to the dedication of one undergraduate in the Class of 1943, Francis Lyons “Frank” Broderick, whose efforts were the focus of the first post in this series. Here, I examine what our holdings reveal about Broderick’s legacy on campus toward the end of World War II and in the early postwar period.

By April C. Armstrong *14

To my teachers and friends on the Princeton faculty
and
my colleagues on the Daily Princetonian
who are fighting against white supremacy at Princeton

–Francis Broderick’s senior thesis dedication page, 1943

As his senior thesis suggests, Frank Broderick wasn’t alone in his fight to transform what it meant to be a Princetonian. After his graduation from Princeton, discussion of race on campus continued in his absence throughout World War II and beyond. Others made arguments similar to the ones Broderick had made about the conflicts between the ideals Americans were fighting for abroad and their own practices at home. These students also met resistance from fellow Princetonians, but in the process, changed opinions. They weren’t content to simply make arguments, however. They took action and set Princeton on a new trajectory.

James Everett Ward ’47 and Arthur Jewell Wilson ’47 outside Laughlin Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP215, Image No. 5644.

A few students wrote editorials in Princeton’s Roundtable News in 1944. Like Broderick had before them in the Daily Princetonian, which largely suspended publication 1943-1945, they pushed readers to make connections between the war abroad and domestic policy. In the March 23, 1944, issue of Roundtable, John Kemeny ’47 *49 accused Princetonians of “copying the Nazi party” in their “hysterical” responses to the admission of African American naval officers in 1943. Kemeny referred to having heard students “talk about forming lynching parties” after their arrival. Edward Kessler ’44 called for an end to discriminatory policies in the April 27, 1944 issue, asking, “How can we fight a world war to destroy the race theory and propagate the very same theory at home?” Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Jr. ’43 responded that he was “astonished” that Kemeny and others made these arguments, and that racial prejudice was no greater threat to democracy than lust or egotism. Debates continued, but a catalyst for tangible change didn’t arrive until after the war’s end.

John Bunzel ’46, whose education had been interrupted by his service in World War II, returned to campus in 1946 to finish his final two years of college. He later said his time in the Army had sparked a passion for civil rights. He led Princeton University students who shared Broderick’s commitments to form the Liberal Union in 1946 and served as its president until his graduation in 1948. Continue reading

This Week in Princeton History for December 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 typing class is starting, reform-minded undergraduates organize, and more.

December 9, 1958—Registration is underway for an undergraduate typing course. For six dollars, students will learn how to type about 20-30 words per minute.

A variety of options were available to students who wanted to hire typists. This was one of several ads for typing services that ran in the Daily Princetonian in 1958.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Native Americans speak out about Columbus Day, a dispute over voter registration sparks a long legal battle, and more.

October 14, 1971—Victor Masayesva ’74 of Americans Before Columbus writes to the Daily Princetonian regarding the destruction of a poster that “designated Columbus Day a day of mourning… We American Indian students at Princeton felt it absolutely necessary to show that this national holiday stinks of, reeks with racism!”

Princeton’s indigenous students have often faced isolation on campus, including Howard Edwards Gansworth of the Class of 1901, but active recruitment among native populations in the 1970s, particularly from reservations, brought numbers significant enough to form a community. This decade was the heyday of Native American representation on campus, during which they began take control of their own narrative at Princeton. Page from “Princeton: Our Perspective” showing Native American students ca. 1970s. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 294, Folder 7.

October 16, 1940—Students and faculty age 21-35 register for the first peacetime draft in American history.

October 18, 1927—Local officials’ refusal to register Princeton students to vote on the basis that their time away during the summer has rendered them ineligible sparks a protracted legal battle.

October 20, 1988—The Daily Princetonian explains the multiple advertisements for different programs to address eating disorders in their issue today as a response to student pressure for more support in the face of rising rates of illnesses related to food, body image, and weight.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 30-October 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, new abortion funding policies draw protest, the Navy is moving in, and more.

September 30, 1840—At Commencement, Samuel Reese Frierson of the graduating class speaks on the “Rights of Women.”

October 1, 1989—About 100 Princeton students join a rally of approximately 4,000 people in solidarity with the democracy movement in China to mourn those lost in the  Tiananmen Square Massacre. The group march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Chinese Embassy with a replica of the Chinese protestors’ Goddess of Liberty.

October 4, 1979—A group of 27 students, saying that Princeton University “has violated our right to freedom of conscience in forcing us to pay for something which we consider to be morally reprehensible,” proposes a rebate for students opposed to abortion for the portion of student health fees that would be used to fund them.

In the 1978-1979 academic year, 36 undergraduates and eight graduate students obtained abortions using the insurance plan provided through mandatory student health fees. Previously, University Health Services (UHS) helped students obtain abortions through other means. The rebates were never approved, but in 1981, the Board of Trustees voted to fund abortion coverage from the endowment earmarked for UHS rather than from sources that included student health fees. Coverage was maintained as part of the student health plan. Concerned Alumni of Princeton pamphlet, 1981. Office of the Executive Vice President Records (AC271), Box 25.

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This Week in Princeton History for September 16-22

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a longstanding but dangerous tradition comes to an end, a sophomore writes to his mother about attending Aaron Burr’s funeral, and more.

September 19, 1990—Students nab the Nassau Hall clapper for the last time.

It’s unclear exactly when the tradition of stealing the clapper began, but documentation indicates it was sometime in the 1860s. More than merely a nuisance to staff who had to keep replacing the clapper, scaling the bell tower was a dangerous feat that occasionally resulted in injuries when students fell from the tower and then off the roof onto the ground. In 1991, administrators decided to remove the clapper indefinitely. Today, Nassau Hall’s bell rings only on special occasions, such as Commencement, after which the clapper is again removed. The students pictured above were members of the Class of 1952 who stole the clapper in 1948. Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box MP199, Image No. 5278.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 29-August 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Navy is slated to take over three dormitories, an arsonist’s attack on campus seems to be welcomed, and more.

July 30, 1942—The chair of the Undergraduate Council announces that the Navy will be taking over Brown, Cuyler, and Patton Halls in September. The Council votes to urge those students forced to move to attempt to find roommates.

July 31, 1963—George F. Kennan (Class of 1925) resigns as U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia.

August 2, 1865—After a sick homeless man found sleeping in the campus gym dies of smallpox, someone burns it to the ground to prevent the spread of the disease. Although fire alarms sound, attempts to put out the blaze are half-hearted due to ongoing fears of infection. No one ever attempts to discover the identity of the arsonist because the town is so relieved the danger is gone.

The first gymnasium at the College of New Jersey (Princeton), ca. 1865, shown in the foreground of this campus scene with Nassau Hall in the distance. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP15, Image No. 351.

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