Princeton’s last class film: Freddie Fox’ Class of 1939

Although we have a fairly good idea about the class films of the 1920s, there is virtually no information about the class films of the 1930s. The exception is the film of the Class of 1939. That is probably not an accident: it was the class of previously featured Frederic Fox ’39, who was the first and only keeper of Princetoniana from 1976 until his untimely death in 1981. The 16mm film in the archives turned out not to be the two hour long film that was announced in the Daily Princetonian on May 1938, and it sadly also lacks the sound that was supposed to have been a major innovation. How much the ultimate film ‘shattered precedents’ by depicting ‘intimacies during campus years’ as the Prince announced in March 1938, we may never know. But one thing is clear: the Class of 1939 had a lot of fun that included women and beer.


The footage is in chronological order, starting with freshmen football practice during days, nights, and in the snow. After this, athletics (always emphasized in previous class films) get very little attention: only football and rowing are featured without any identifications, other than a Yale-Princeton game (6:49). The freshmen scenes continue with footage about the Veterans of Future Wars (VFW) (1:50), founded in March 1936 by members of the Class of 1936 and 1937, which became one of the most famous college pranks in the country. The footage is part of a newsreel of March of the Times, which can be viewed online (with sound!). The three “likely pieces of cannon fodder” (shown at 2:19 in the chairs), who came up with the idea, are  Lewis J. Gorin ’36, “National Commander” (middle), Urban Rushton ’36 (left), and probably Richard Waters ’36 (right). According to 1939’s class history in the Nassau Herald, it was the “main event” of the second term that year, and the movement received the freshmen’s “whole-hearted backing.” The records of the Veterans of Future Wars are kept in the University Archives.

FoxHayesx.jpgThe Triangle Club gets quite some attention in the class film, which is understandable: Fred Fox ’39, Mark Hayes ’39 and Sanders (“Sandy”) Maxwell ’39 were involved in three productions, the first two as actors (Hayes played Mandy Magnum in previously featured Take it Away) while Maxwell contributed music. The footage shows scenes from Fol-de-Rol, Triangle’s production for 1937-1938, including chorines dancing (7:20) and Mark Hayes singing with Fred Fox, who had a leading roll as King Charles II (8:33). It is not possible to determine if the party scene with whiskey and bear that follows is related (8:43). Triangle’s 50th anniversary production Once Over Lightly, in which Hayes and Fox both played leading roles (Sandy Maxwell, Triangle’s director, contributed most of the music), is featured at 16:18. It is not known who the man and woman are who are presented with a gift by Fred Fox at 16:32.
The footage following the first Triangle show is thought to capture the Junior Prom on March 18; 1938, with music by the swing band of trumpeter Larry Clinton (11:14). The prom was attended by 606 girls (all listed by name in the Daily Prince). promcrasherx.jpgFunnily enough, the one junior student who is shown alone among the dancing couples is Fred Fox (at 10:49 with bow tie and glasses), who was voted ‘most likely bachelor’ in his senior year. In an article in the Prince 35 years later, Fox explains that he probably got the vote because he never had a date until his senior year, when he shared one with his roommate. More scenes with girls are shown at 5:37 (presumably watching a rowing regatta), as well as at 11:52 and  at the senior house parties (21:51).
Remaining footage shown must have been shot at the ROTC training camp at Madison Barracks, NY, in the summer of 1938, at the end of the Junior year (13:10). SandyMaxwellx.jpgSimilar footage is featured in our previous blog, which may even have been shot on the same occasion. The footage at 11:59 shows J.C. Hurdman ’39 at the microphone and Sandy Maxwell at the piano during a WTNJ radio broadcast of “Princeton On The Air,” featured in the Prince. The film ends with brief footage of the Commencement.

It is not known why the class film ended up in the University Archives without sound. The original idea to have a two-hour film with sound seems to have been too ambitious: on June 7, 1939 the Prince announced that the senior class film was delayed by audio editing. The final result, to be premiered at the Class’ first reunion, would only be 1000 feet long, due to the extensive costs of the sound track. The Prince‘s description of the final film, which would also include some added campus scenes in color, is very different than the footage that is featured here. What happened? Did the sound track get lost? Or could this be the footage that was excluded from in the final film? If anybody could explain the mystery, we would love to hear it!

This 16mm silent film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0199)

“The Class of 1923–its deeds and its antics,” 1922-1923

Among the earliest silent films that were shot on the Princeton campus are those produced and financed by the classes of 1921 to 1939 (see our previous blog). The first true ‘class film’ was titled “The Class of 1923–its deeds and its antics.” A compilation of footage from this film and of the film “Champions 1922,” with football highlights of the fall of 1922, survive in the archives. Be ready to watch the “football team that wouldn’t be beaten,” the building of a championship bonfire, a dirty flour fight, Triangle chorines and more Princeton lore.

The two 16mm film reels on which this footage was found contain almost all scenes (though in different order) of the original nitrate base films that were kept by the Graduate Council. According to the Graduate Council’s lists of captions or “titles” of the films, the original “Champions 1922,” which was rented out to alumni groups, took up one reel, and the film with the class’ “deeds and antics” took up six. Portions of six of the seven original reels were used, with only the class’ commencement scenes omitted.

Princeton’s three football victories that clinched the championship in the fall of 1922 are found at separate places: the Yale game (November 18) at 0:00, the Harvard game (November 11) at 3:18, and the Chicago match (October 28, 1922) at 11.42. 1923tigerx.jpgThe film features a live tiger cub (2:33) that, according to the note found with the film reel, was donated by the father of one of the players “since Princeton won (the) Harvard game.” An article in the Prince identifies the donor as J.F. Howard from Haverhill, MA, father of Albert “Red” F. Howard ’25, who had caught the cub while hunting in the jungles of India. The note indicates that the tiger was given to Philadelphia Zoo after graduation.

To our surprise, we had already seen the bonfire footage at 4:22. It was featured in Gerardo Puglia’s 250th anniversary documentary and was thought to be the championship bonfire of 1926 when it was put online by the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Now we know that it was actually the championship bonfire of November 21, 1922. Given the caption on 1923’s Class film, it is easy to understand the mistake: it was traditionally the task of the freshmen (in this case the Class of 1926) to find wood for the celebratory bonfires. That this involved quite a bit more than gathering brushwood is demonstrated in the film. A photo montage of the events can be found in the Daily Princetonian of November 25, 1922.

Another Princeton tradition depicted on the film is the annual “flour picture,” the first photograph of the freshmen class on the steps of Whig or Clio Hall, which was taken after the sophomores dumped flour on the freshmen. The seniors of 1923 were merely bystanders when the Class of 1926’s flour picture was filmed on October 30, 1922 (5:40). The footage must have ended up here because the Class of 1923 had taken the initiative for the combined Motion Picture Committee that would coordinate the class films for all four classes, including the filming of the freshmen’s flour picture. (See our previous blog.)

1923flourx.jpgThe title that accompanied the original footage apparently was removed:  “Flour (?) picture: 1926 undergoes its baptismal rites.” The question mark indicates that more than flour was dumped during this hazing ritual, and a year later, the Class of 1926, now sophomores, added their own special ingredient to the mix: acid! Not surprisingly, the flour picture was abolished immediately. The Prince wrote solemnly: “This action was necessitated by the degeneration of the Flour Picture in recent years until this fall it was a distinctly non-Princeton affair.”  A later article detailed what may have been mixed with the flour on this footage: eggs, tar, paint, molasses “and whatnot.” The flour picture was reinstated in 1924 with water and flour only, but the interest of the sophomores waned, and the practice stopped after 1925.

The photographer of the flour picture is probably Orren Jack Turner, who appears at 6:28, followed a bit later by B.F. Bunn ’07 (6:36), manager of the University store and financial adviser to many campus organizations, who advanced the money for the camera purchased by the Motion Picture Committee. The footage of Bunn is followed by scenes from the Triangle show “The Man from Earth” (6:46), the annual show for 1922-1923, with Wally Smith ’24 in the title row, singing “That’s why I left the world behind” (7:36). This is the earliest Triangle footage in the University archives, preceding even the footage of “The Golden Dog” of 1929 that was featured in a previous blog.

1923sundialx.jpgThe remainder of the footage includes athletic teams and  training sessions, as well as class officers and members of the boards. Sports featured include soccer (1:21, 5:28), cross country (2:15), baseball (7:49. 14:31), rowing (8:25. 17:33) and golf (16:12), while footage of construction of the Hobart Baker ice hockey rink can be found at 6:42. The footage includes members of Theatre Intime (14:00) and the board of the Daily Princetonian. The latter footage captures another Princeton’s tradition: the privilege, exclusive to seniors, to sit on the steps of the Mather Sundial, in the center of McCosh Courtyard (16:44).

This footage on this 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0195 and 0196). 

Princeton’s oldest footage: John Grier Hibben’s inauguration and Woodrow Wilson returns to vote

This post contains the oldest newsreels present in the Princeton University Archives. As discussed in our previous blog, Princeton University started making films in 1919, using the footage for its first promotional film in 1921. For earlier years, however, it was dependent on newsreel companies like Pathé, which filmed newsworthy stories and items of topical interest for movie theaters. The first film documents the inauguration of John Grier Hibben, fourteenth president of  Princeton University (1912-1932). The newsreels that follow show US President Woodrow Wilson, Hibben’s predecessor, when he returned to Princeton to vote in 1913 or 1915 and in 1916.

We do not know what company produced the silent newsreel about Hibben’s inauguration in 1912 as only the opening titles survive, but it is obvious what made the issue particularly newsworthy: William Howard Taft, President of the United States 1909-1913, was a guest at the ceremony.  He received an honorary degree, along with US Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglass White. The newsreel opens with Taft posing with Hibben and his wife and daughter at Prospect House (0:14). It continues with Hibben and his distinguished guests, headed by Grand Marshal William Libbey ’77 and Taft’s personal aid, walking past faculty, trustees, students, and guests on Cannon Green, from where the procession marched to Nassau Hall (0:54). The Daily Princetonian describes the procession and following exercises in detail. The newsreel footage, however, shows very little of the ceremonies on the podium in front of Nassau Hall. Hibben’s inauguration and speech are shown at 1:36, followed by the conferment of honorary degrees to Chief Justice Williams (1:51) and President Taft (2:04).


Woodrow Wilson Newsreel flipped.jpgThe footage of Woodrow Wilson that follows Hibben’s inauguration (2:26) seems to have been taken from two different newsreels. Although the title and credits of both newsreels were almost completely removed, a remaining single frame of the first title survived–oddly enough in mirror image and shown corrected at the right. This footage may have been from Wilson’s visit on September 28, 1915, when he traveled to Princeton to vote in the Democratic primaries at the polling station on Chambers Street. (See the New York Times at NYTImes 28_Sep_1915.pdf.) Alternatively, it may depict him in the Democratic primaries of September 23, 1913, when he voted for James Fielder for Governor of New Jersey. (See NYTimes_23_Sep_1913.pdf.)

The very brief footage thaWilsonvote.jpgt follows at 3:15, showing Wilson greeting women, was taken when he voted in the NJ primary on  April 25, 1916. (For a photo of Wilson arriving by train, see the Historical Society of Princeton’s photo archives). During this visit, which is described in the Prince, Wilson participated in the planting of trees along the Lincoln Highway under the auspices of the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs.
It is not known on what occasion the historic footage was copied onto the 16mm film reel on which it was found, though it must have happened after June 1940, when the footage of Hibben’s inauguration was displayed at the 25th reunion of the Class of 1915, whose members had witnessed the inauguration as freshmen.  (On May 17, 1940 Everett Frank ’15 wrote Don Griffin, Secretary of the Graduate Council, that he had located the newsreels, which Griffin was welcome to borrow). The Woodrow Wilson footage on the reel is followed by the commencement activities of what seems to be the Class of 1928. That, and related footage, will be the subject of a future blog.
This footage on this 16mm film is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (part of item no. 0192)


Long-time Mudd Library researcher and friend W. Barksdale Maynard ’88 writes:

These newsreels are extremely rare for showing Woodrow Wilson in Princeton. Thank you for making them available for all of us.

Some corrections:

You say, “The newsreels that follow show US President Woodrow Wilson, Hibben’s predecessor, when he returned to Princeton to vote in 1913 or 1915 and in 1916.” See below where I argue for dates of 1915 and 1918, instead.

You say, “This footage may have been from Wilson’s visit on September 28, 1915 [or] September 23, 1913.” I would argue for September 1918: note what is apparently a World War One service flag at 2:36. Still photos at AC117 box 242 (wrongly dated) show exactly the same secret service delegation; I believe these are from Sept. 1918.

You say, “The very brief footage that follows at 3:15, showing Wilson greeting women, was taken when he voted in the NJ primary on April 25, 1916.” In fact I believe this shows his visit of October 1915 (when he made an historic pro-suffrage vote), during which visit he wore identical clothing to what is shown in the newsreel and, in addition, Doctor Grayson wore identical clothing (based on still photos at AC117 box 242, one of which even shows the newsreel cameraman).


What happened to Princeton’s silent movies?

ArthurPenrose.jpg Filming of the comedy “Arthur Penrose” (1923)  (Photo The Princeton Bric-a-Brac,1925)

It started at Yale
On February 19, 1920 the Daily Princetonian announced Yale’s decision to record important campus events on film, to be kept by the classes and used for reunions. By the end of that year, according to the Prince, Princeton’s Class of 1921 had established a “fund by which a class motion picture could be taken, including scenes which might prove to be of interest to the Class in later years.” The film of its graduation weekend in June 1921, featured in our first post, must have been the result. Following the example, the Class of 1922 appointed a Motion Picture Committee at the beginning of its senior year to coordinate its own class and football films, thus starting a tradition  that lasted through the 1930s. Only a few class films have survived in the University Archives. What happened to the others? Do we know what was lost? A recently discovered box of records of the Graduate Council, part of the yet unprocessed Records of the Alumni Organizations provides some answers.
Champions1922y.jpgRenting a film from the Graduate Council

The box contains correspondence (1921-1950) about Princeton’s class and football films, which were the property of the classes. They were kept by the Graduate Council on their behalf, which rented the football films to alumni groups around the country. The records include detailed handwritten and typescript lists, drawn up in 1931, of seventy silent movies, usually one to three reels long. The summaries and lists of the film captions or “titles” that were used give a good idea of the contents of Princeton’s films of the 1920s (lists of the class films of the 1930s are lacking). A few films were listed as property of the Graduate Council itself: some unidentified (presumably early) football games, the short lived Arthur Penrose (1923), a comedy produced by film enthusiast Stas Azoy ’14, who seems to have been in charge of the films at the time, and the University’s very first promotion film Princeton (1921). This five-reel film (85 minutes), which was revised three times and renamed Just Princeton and Princeton: a ‘National University,‘ was rented to high schools and other interested groups until 1926, when it was considered outdated (most of the footage was apparently seven years old). The silent movie, which was initially meant to be accompanied by Princeton songs and music, has not survived, but the list of captions in the film provides a detailed account of the scenes (see Princeton film.pdf).

The class films of the 1920s

After the Class of 1922’s appointment of a Motion Picture Committee  to ensure a memento of its senior year, all classes followed suit. On November 3, 1922 the Prince announced the merger of the four class committees into one central body with representatives from all four classes. It would film campus events of interest to all, so that each class would have a complete four-year record, ending with its commencement. The first films taken under the new management were shown in the Garden Theater on December 7, 1922. They included the Class of 1926’s “Flour Picture” (a hazing ritual in which sophomores dumped flour and water on freshmen prior to their first class picture) and the football victory over Yale and championship celebration in November.

inventoryPYgame1926.jpgThe annual flour picture would only be filmed a few more years, as the tradition was discontinued after 1925. But the major football games continued to be filmed in the fall. The football films, which were most popular among alumni groups, took up half of the collection of the Graduate Council. They were the property of the class in whose senior year they were taken. The football films for 1926, for instance, were the property of the Class of 1927 (left). The majority of the remaining class films were shot during spring and Commencement. The spring films usually featured committees and groups, campus scenes and sports. Sometimes the footage included small skits. In addition to these films, the Graduate Council’s lists include a few films of rowing, baseball, and other sports, as well as some early reunion films.

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Coeduation in Princeton: it started at the Graduate School

In September 1969, more than two years after President Goheen asked former Woodrow Wilson director Gardner Patterson to investigate the introduction of coeducation, Princeton welcomed its first undergraduate women to campus. Within the Ivy League Princeton was relatively late: while Yale made the move at the same time, only Dartmouth (1972) and Columbia (1983) went coeducational later. It was not the first time, however, that women entered Princeton University for a degree. In 1961 Sabra Follett Meservey, an assistant professor of history at Douglass College in New Brunswick, became the first woman to be enrolled at the Graduate School as a full time degree candidate in Oriental Studies. Meservey provides a humorous account of her meeting with Goheen to arrange the ‘test case’ during the celebration of coeducation at the Graduate School on June 3, 1989 (14:45).

Featured here is a ninety-minute forum during which five speakers discuss their experiences as women at the Graduate School and after. After a historical introduction about women in higher education by the organizer of the event, Lisa Drakeman *88 (1:35), Sabra Follett Meservey *66 is the first speaker (10:26). She is followed by T’sai-ying Cheng *64, the first female recipient of a degree in Princeton (28:04), Phyllis Thompson *76 (50:15), Maureen Quirk *82 (1:08:38), and Sindee Simon *92 (1:19:34).
This VHS video is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no.1306).



The Princeton Strike, 1970

The student protests against the Vietnam war discussed in last week’s post are documented in numerous photographs and records in the University Archives, but none were captured on film. The Historical Audiovisual Collection, however, contains live recordings of several protest assemblies that were broadcast by Princeton’s student-run radio station, WPRB. Featured here is part of a broadcast from Jadwin Gym on Monday, May 4, 1970, when nearly 4,000 students, faculty, and staff voted for a “Strike against the War,” four days after President Nixon announced the US invasion of Cambodia. Taken from a four-and-a-half hour meeting, this four-minute audio clip is accompanied by a selection of photos from the Historical Photograph Collection (presented in random order) that were shot during the event. Many photos were scanned from contact prints and have not been published before.

On Thursday, April 30 at 10 pm, half an hour after the conclusion of Nixon’s televised announcement, 2,500 students and faculty had gathered in the University Chapel and voted for an immediate university-wide strike. According to Peter Brown ’70 in the Princeton Alumni Weekly (May 19, 1970) the word “strike” was used to mean “not a closing of the university but rather a redirection of Princeton’s energies.” How people would strike and against what precisely was decided during the assembly in Jadwin Gym on May 4th, where three proposals were discussed. The first, which was submitted by the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) and included a statement of opposition to the war and the recommendation to suspend final exams (a summary of the proposal can be heard at 1:08), won with a majority of 2,066 votes. The second, more strongly worded proposal from the “Princeton Strike Committee” (summarized at 2:38) gained 1,522 votes. The audio clip does not capture the counting of the votes for the third proposal from the “Anti-Strike Committee,” which only got 181 votes. “Resolution One urges a strike against the war. Resolution Two is a strike against the university,” said Harold Kuhn, professor of mathematical economics, at the meeting, who added that the more radical proposal from the Strike Committee would “tear apart this university by adopting simplistic solutions to complex problems.”

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A Midsummer Night’s Screame, 1960

MidsummerNight Cast.jpg

Top row, second from the left to second from right: Rose “Mother” Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, and Anne Hathaway. Front row center: Queen Elizabeth flanked by two Spanish spies (for a cast list see Midsummer Night’s Screame cast.pdf).

In Triangle’s pseudo Shakespearean musical, A Midsummer Night’s Screame (1960-1961) Queen Elizabeth I (Geoffrey Smith ’61) is a playwright, who enlists the help of Sir Walter Raleigh (John Crowther ’61), to find a suitable man to take credit as the author of her works. He discovers William Shakespeare (Alexander Kennedy ’62), an aspiring, but not particularly talented poet. Two Spanish spies at the English court (John Simon ‘63 and Hugh Bartlett ’62) discover the Queen’s secret and encourage her to continue her writing, so that she may be distracted from her queenly duties, allowing the Spanish Armada to attack England. How the story unfolds is not clear, as the Triangle records contain only part of the script. The film featured here, however, shows how the story ends. According to reviews of the play this “Pathos newsreel” (a play on the Pathé newsreels discussed in a previous blog entry) was shown during the third act as a conclusion to the play.

Midsummer Night cov er.jpg

The silent movie, which parodies the newsreels of the early-twentieth century (“Ye Eyes & Ye Ears of The World”), is full of deliberate anachronisms and visual gags, interspersed with clips from other movies and newsreels. It opens with an actor in Shakespearean garb pretending to operate a film camera. In the first scene, Rose “Mother” Shakespeare (Bert Wunderlich ’62) is in scuba gear preparing to cross the English Channel. Accompanying her in a rowboat are Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway (Roy Young ’62), and the two young Shakespeare children, Susannah and Hamnet. The scene was shot to look as if it was a modern day sporting event. Rose is interviewed by reporters, as she plugs her sponsor, The Boar’s Head Tavern. This scene is a reference to the sport of English Channel swimming, which goes back to the 19th century; in 1926 the first woman crossed the channel, accompanied by family and friends in a boat.

At the halfway point in the film (4:00), Shakespeare and Raleigh cross paths with Rose and the boat containing Anne and the children. The boat seems to be sinking (Raleigh is scooping water from his boat with a hat) and at 4:22 the men appear on Hathaway’s boat, having somehow escaped their sinking vessel. At 4:42, Shakespeare and Raleigh board one of the Spanish ships, which turns the battle in England’s favor: Cannon balls fly back into their cannons, plumes of smoke dissolve, and damage is undone. However, the battle is not over quite yet. Aboard the Spanish ship, Raleigh and Shakespeare must grapple with the two Spanish spies. They finally outsmart and overpower the Spaniards, forcing one of the spies to wave a white handkerchief. Shakespeare, Raleigh, and a Native American representative shake hands and congratulate each otherMidsummerNightScreame.jpg for a job well done. The film concludes with “London: V-S Day,” presumably standing for “Victory Over Spain Day” (7:11).  What happens to Rose Shakespeare (singing with the two Spanish spies and Anne Hathaway to the left) we do not know. If there is any alumnus who participated in the play and still possesses the complete script, we would love to have a copy!


Reviews of the play were mostly positive. The musical and dance numbers received the most acclaim, especially a twenty-minute musical version of Macbeth. A dance critic from the New York Herald Tribune called the dance numbers “brilliant.” Chairman of the Board, Marshall M. H. Dana ’32, seemed to think that a few of the songs from the play were potential musical hits. He thought so highly of them that he wrote to Triangle Club alumnus and screen star, Jose Ferrer ’33, requesting that he play the songs for his wife, singer Rosemary Clooney, with the hope that she might record them.

— Alina Serafini, Rutgers University Class of 2011 and Mudd Library intern, Fall 2010.

This silent 16mm films is part of the Triangle Club Records (AC122) (Box 177).  Mudd Library is thankful for the support that the Triangle Alumni Board provided for digitizing these films and unlocking their contents. 

President Johnson addresses Vietnam in Princeton, 1966

President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Princeton University on May 11, 1966 to dedicate the new Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs building and receive an honorary degree. The new building had been made possible by a $35 million gift that was anonymous at the time, but later revealed to be from Charles S. Robertson ’26 and his wife Marie. (See the previous blog entry on the 1961 Princeton newsreel.)  Securing the visit of the President, originally scheduled in October 1965 but canceled at the last minute, had been very difficult. When the President did come, close to 400 Vietnam War protesters were kept a block away from the ceremonies. In his speech, however, Johnson addressed his critics nonetheless.

At the time of Johnson’s visit, student protests against the Vietnam War had only just begun. The local chapter of the Students for Democratic Society (SDS) was founded in the fall of 1965. In November seventy undergraduate and graduate students joined the “March on Washington to End the War in Vietnam,” defying Princeton’s conservative stereotype under a 10-feet long banner with the words “EVEN PRINCETON.” Opinions in Princeton at the time of Johnson’s visit, however, were mixed. Many supported Johnson’s policies in Indochina, including Princeton University president Robert F. Goheen. In September 1965 he joined the “Committee for an Effective and Durable Peace in Asia,” which consisted of 48 leading private citizens, whose purpose was to “support President Johnson’s proposals to bring about a viable peace in Vietnam and, once peace is brought about, to enlist economic aid for the entire area and to assure to the people of South Vietnam their right to choose a government of their own.”
By 1967 anti-war protests had increased throughout the country as well as in Princeton, which was particularly active in the draft resistance movement. Goheen, too, changed his mind and was one of the thirty-seven university presidents who signed a petition to end the American military involvement in Indochina. In April 1969, over 3,000 students, faculty, and staff assembled in Jadwin Gymnasium to vote on five resolutions related to the war. But it was after President Richard Nixon’s announcement in April 1970 that the United States had invaded Cambodia that the protests against the war peaked. The resulting “Princeton Strike” of 1970 will be the subject of a future blog post.

Robertsonletter.jpgThe text of Johnson’s speech is not available in the University Archives. A summary and discussion of his speech, however, can be found in The Daily Princetonian. What the records in the University Archives do reveal is how difficult it was to arrange Johnson’s visit. Less than than two weeks before the dedication it was still not certain if he could attend. A press release issued on May 8, three days before the ceremony, announced Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardner as the principal speaker, but according to the Prince, rumors circulated that the President would attend.

The dedication brought a great deal of satisfaction to the then anonymous donors. “I guess that next to my wedding and the arrival of the children it was the biggest day of my life,” wrote Charles Robertson, who had suggested former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Goheen as an alternative  on April 6. Although the donors of the $35 Million gift to the Woodrow Wilson School were anonymous, he and his wife appear to have been caught on camera as guests at the ceremony (1:04).
This newsreel is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1339). Correspondence about the difficulties of scheduling President Johnson’s visit can be found in the the Office of the President’s Records (Box 386, folder 8 (which includes Robertson’s letter above) and folder 9) and the Office of Communication Records (Box 106, folder 2)

“Princeton University: Conversations that matter,” 1991

After the 1960 and 1961 “Princeton newsreels” featured last week, which marked a new stage in Princeton’s public relations efforts, it is interesting to make a 30-year leap to view a film that was produced for the Admissions Office by Andrew Greenspan: “Princeton University: Conversations that Matter” (1991). Focusing on the academic climate and intellectual exchanges, the film uses a markedly different format than the Orange Key Society film of 1962, which was also aimed at prospective students.

This film uses footage of discussion groups, lectures and seminars, and individual meetings between students and faculty, touching upon a wide range of subjects within the sciences and humanities. Professors featured include, among others, Cornel West (African American Studies, 1.13 and following), Peter Brown (History, 4:31), Robert Fagles (reading from his translation of the Iliad 6:57), Toni Morrison (English, 8:27 and following), John Fleming (English and Comparative Literature, 9:05), John Conway (Mathematics, 12:36), Steve Mackey (Music, 18:24 and following), and Michael Littman (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 19:19). In addition, the film addresses individual students’ research and creative writing projects. The footage includes an acting class by playwright David Rabe (16:02) and training sessions with basketball coach Pete Carril (2:50 and following).

The film won a Gold Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

This VHS video is part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 1293).

Keeping the donor base informed: Princeton newsreels, 1960-1961

During the $53 Million Campaign (1959-1962) a 13 x 10 foot scale model of the Princeton campus  toured 19 major cities and displayed at meetings of the regional leaders of the fund drive. To keep Princeton alumni further informed about progress and developments on campus, the Alumni Council sponsored two “Princeton Newsreels” in 1960 and 1961. The two 30-minute films are interesting to watch, not only because they feature new facilities, achievements in sports and science, and notable events (from Hurricane Donna in 1960 to the donation of $35 million for the Woodrow Wilson School in 1961), but because they also document the University’s first attempts to reach out to its donor base through the medium of film.  Contrasting the two films, one cannot help but note that the second film is much smoother in its presentation than the first.

The first newsreel opens with an introduction by the 41 year-old president Robert F. Goheen ’40, and a freshmen lecture about the honor system by Walker Stevenson ’35, president of the National Alumni Association (1:30). The scale model of the campus, mentioned above, is featured at 6:41, when administrative vice-president Edgar M. Gemmell ’34 explains the expansions planned for the next three years. The footage following captures the Hibben and Magie faculty apartments under construction (6:41) as well as the five new dormitories of the New Quad (Class of 1937, Class of 1938, Class of 1939, Dodge-Osborn, and Gauss Halls), the first buildings to be finished since the start of the $53 Million Campaign (7:27).

aircar.jpg“Examples of Research” opens with a bird experiment on the roof of Guyot Hall (7:55), followed by the Princeton-Pennsylvania Proton Accelerator, a particle research facility on the Forrestal Campus since 1957 (8:59). In addition, the newsreel includes a demonstration of the thermoheliodon and the heliodon, developed by the Architectural Laboratory to determine the effects of sunlight, wind and radiation (10:19), and research at the Department of Aeronautical Engineering into problems that occur with low speed flight (11:29; footage includes “air car” shown above). In addition, the newsreel features faculty who won an award in 1960: the later Nobel Prize winner Eugene Wigner, Professor of Physics, who received the “Atoms for Peace Award” (15:02) and History Professor Robert Palmer, who won the Bancroft prize for his book Age of the Democratic Revolution (15:25).
The second half of the film features particular places and events, including alumni in the “Princeton Today” program who visited the new C-site at the “Matterhorn Project” (renamed the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 1961), a project for magnetic fusion research funded by the Atomic Energy Commission that had only been declassified in 1958 (15:47, with more about the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the second newsreel). This is followed by the appointment of three new trustees (17:15), the foreign language laboratory (18:57), achievements in sports (track, squash, and lacrosse at 20:06; football (with coach Dick Colman) at 25:04), and Reunions (20:54, with the Class of ’35). In addition, the film includes footage of Triangle chorines during a performance of Breakfast in Bedlam, which toured various military bases and hospitals in Europe during the summer (18:05). The newsreel also documents Hurricane Donna, the only hurricane on record to have struck every East Coast state between Florida and Maine, which hit the campus on September 12, 1960 (23:38).
The second newsreel that was produced during the $53 Million Campaign is more crisply presented, with a clear division into five chapters. The first chapter, “New Facilities,” shows new campus edifices: the Engineering Quadrangle (1:42), the John Foster Dulles Library of Diplomatic History (2:11), the Hibben and Magie apartments at Carnegie Lake (2:22), the new playing fields (2:37), and the dormitory quad with Wilcox Hall (2:48). It is followed by images of students moving into their dormitories (3:44), Class of 1965 freshmen, the new Dean of the College J. Merrill Knapp with Dean Ernest Gordon (4:36), and keycepts “in operation” (4:57).
“Sports” (6:26), the subject of the second chapter, features basketball (6:28), swimming (7:04), track (8:11), and football (8:24), with brief footage of important games and closeups of athletes. In the next chapter, “The Search for Knowledge” (11:32), the number of research project previously featured is reduced to two. The first concerns the new Model C Stellarator at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), the new name of “Project Matterhorn” discussed in the earlier newsreel. The large stellarator, for which facilities had been built in 1960, replaced previous models that had been used in the 1950s. As a second example of Princeton’s achievements in science the research of biology professor Arthur K. Parpart is discussed (14:21).
The fourth chapter, “Going Back” (15:43) includes footage of the Class of 1936’s 25th and the Class of 1911’s 50th reunion, with Joseph Cashman and Dr. William H. Hudnut from the Class of 1886 as members of the Old Guard. (Footage of President Robert Goheen ’40, Grant Sanger ’31, Harold Helm ’21, and Walker Stevenson ’35 is at 16:43). The “major Princeton event of 1961” is saved for last: “Princeton in International Affairs” (19:29) features the $35 million anonymous gift from a foundation (initially called the “X” Foundation, later known as the Robertson Foundation) to establish a professional school for public service at the Woodrow Wilson School. The newsreel ends with a statement by Gardner Patterson, who was the director of the Woodrow Wilson School and of the new program (20:35).
These 16mm films are part of the University Archives’ Historical Audiovisual Collection (item no. 0083 and 0079)