World War II “Trainwomen” of the Long Island Railroad

In 1942, The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) took the unprecedented step of hiring women as engine cleaners. World War II’s labor shortages had opened new doors for women, especially in the transportation industry. The engine cleaners performed well, so the LIRR hired many more women for positions previously held only by men, dubbing them “trainwomen.” LIRR president M. W. Clement explained in a press release, “The substitution of inexperienced employees for the trained employees has been a problem so far well met, and many women are now in services that have generally been accepted as a man’s calling.”

Lillian Markowski, age 20, an engine cleaner for the Long Island Railroad. Markowski took over her fiance’s job when he joined the Army. Her brother was also a soldier. Photo by Roy Pitney, February 2, 1943, Ivy Ledbetter Lee Papers (MC085), Box 103, Folder 4.

Ivy Lee and Associates, the pioneering public relations company owned by Ivy Ledbetter Lee (Princeton University Class of 1898), represented the LIRR. As the LIRR began hiring women, Lee’s company sent out materials with text and images promoting this a positive move, not a threat to men currently fighting abroad. “Don’t worry about your jobs,” one said on a radio broadcast for troops in Australia and Great Britain, “We’ll hold the home front until you men come home. Then you can have your jobs back.” A press release about the broadcast praised this as evidence of “fine, whole hearted devotion to the cause of democracy” among women working for the railroad. Continue reading

Princeton University’s 70 Books Project

By Rosalba Varallo Recchia

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more.

War can interrupt education as military training replaces traditional curricula. While away from campus, many soldiers, even those not pursuing a degree, turn to books for diversion or solace, as well as to increase their knowledge. By 1943, many Princeton students were leaving the University to join the U.S. military. Many of those serving were being stationed overseas.   Princeton University and its faculty members made an effort to send a Christmas packet to students abroad, hoping to provide intellectual stimulation along with recreation.

A special, personalized bookplate identified these pocket editions as gifts from Princeton University. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 415, Folder 6.

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Lawrence Rauch *49 and Operation Crossroads: Atomic Testing at Bikini Atoll

By Rosalba Varallo Recchia

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more.

Lawrence Rauch *49, a mathematics graduate student and a research assistant in physics, concentrated on radio telemetry while at Princeton.  He lived in the Graduate College near John Tukey, Rauch’s mentor during this time. Richard Feynman also lived nearby. Rauch was passionate about his studies, but World War II affected his academic experience. He won the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship in 1942, but due to his involvement in war research had to turn it down. Throughout the war, Rauch worked on defense related projects–which had the added benefit of keeping him out of the draft. He was chosen among five other members of the University to attend the first series of post-war nuclear testing being conducted in the Pacific Ocean by the Joint Army and Navy Task Force at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1946.

Lawrence Rausch *49’s ROTC portrait. Lawrence Rausch Papers (AC393), Box 2, Folder 10.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library makes a significant change in how it catalogs books, the Board of Trustees is divided over a hiring decision, and more.

February 5, 1976—University Librarian Richard Boss announces that new materials will use the Library of Congress classification system rather than the Richardson system unique to Princeton, originally developed in the 1890s by Boss’s predecessor, Ernest Cushing Richardson. Richardson felt that the Dewey classification system was inappropriate for a research library. However, in the open stacks, books with Richardson numbers would not be completely phased out until 2011.

An employee shelves books in the Princeton University Library, ca. 1970s. The call numbers here are all Richardson numbers. (Click to enlarge.) Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP06, Image No. 132.

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Solitary Internment: Kentaro Ikeda ’44

This post is part of a series on education and war related to our current exhibition, “Learning to Fight, Fighting to Learn: Education in Times of War,” on display through June 2018. Please stop by to learn more.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to determine the boundaries of artificially-designated “military zones” that allowed the United States to move Japanese Americans into internment camps. Princeton University was not within these military zones. Nonetheless, its sole Japanese student during World War II, Kentaro Ikeda ’44, found his freedom severely restricted during and immediately following the war. Rather than confinement in one of America’s concentration camps, Ikeda instead experienced a kind of solitary internment on the Princeton campus.

Kentaro Ikeda ’44. Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC199).

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This Week in Princeton History for December 4-10

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, dorm residents “grope their way in the darkness,” an epidemic halts the swim team, and more.

December 5, 1878—The Princetonian complains about the lack of lighting in Reunion Hall: “Another term is almost gone, and the students rooming in those entries are still compelled to grope their way in the darkness.”

Reunion Hall, undated. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 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 woman’s presence in class draws comment, new penalties for late library books are imposed, and more.

November 20, 1930—Princeton University has set a record for most student disappearances, with more missing persons than any other college or university.

November 21, 1878—Louisa Maclean’s attendance in Professor James Murray’s course in English Literature draws comments from students at the College of New Jersey (Princeton).

Louisa Maclean’s lecture notes from James Murray’s course in English Literature, College of New Jersey (Princeton), 1878-1879. Lecture Notes Collection (AC052), Box 44, Folder 8. The Princetonian said the course was only for women, but we think this is likely to have just been a tongue-in-cheek reference to Maclean’s presence in the classroom.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 31-August 6

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, an Olympian’s visa is revoked, laundry services are scarce, and more.

July 31, 1996—Media Services loses about 30% of its equipment and three staff members are stranded on an elevator in 3-foot-high water when a flash flood fills the basement of New South Hall.

August 1, 1874—Today’s issue of Harper’s Weekly includes a sketch of the finish in the College of New Jersey’s (Princeton’s) first Intercollegiate Regatta on Lake Saratoga. Princeton’s froshes won their event, while the varsity team took last place.

1924 reprint of 1874 Harper’s Weekly sketch from the Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 17-23

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a magazine runs an unsettling story about a professor, a graduate tells a federal prosecutor he has been pressured to commit perjury, and more.

July 17, 1989—New York Magazine runs a 7-page article on Thomas McFarland, an English professor at Princeton University accused of sexually assaulting a male graduate student. McFarland explains, “I’ve never liked anybody who wasn’t heterosexual. Most of the people I’ve liked tend to be of an age when they would be students. All the great loves of my life have been students.”

The Thomas McFarland matter and its aftermath had far-reaching implications for Princeton, as is detailed in several of the University’s publications for the late 1980s and early 1990s. In this April 19, 1990 issue of the Nassau Weekly, the graduate student involved took an administrator to task for his response to the article that appeared in New York Magazine. Click to enlarge this image.

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This Week in Princeton History for February 27-March 5

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Colonial Club’s financial pressures force its closure, women march on Washington, and more.

February 28, 1946—Princeton University announces that women will live in student housing on campus for the first time, opening Brown Hall to married veterans after providing only single-gender accommodations at the institution for 200 years.

Couples arriving at Brown Hall, 1946. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP166, Image No. 6055.

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