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This Week in Princeton History for January 26-February 1

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, an Oscar winner dies, the University holds a winter Commencement to send students off to war more quickly, and more.

January 26, 1992—Jose Ferrer ’33 dies at the age of 80. Though best known for his Oscar-winning portrayal of the title character in Cyrano de Bergerac in 1949, he had already made an impression on Princeton. The Class of 1933 named him the “Most Entertaining” and “Wittiest” among them upon graduation. Like his friend James Stewart ’32, Ferrer was an architecture major who got his start in show business through involvement in Triangle Club.

Jose Ferrer was named “Most Entertaining” and “Wittiest” by the Class of 1933 (photo from 1933 Nassau Herald).

January 27, 1934—An Ice Carnival held in Baker Rink raises $900 for charity, which is donated to the Princeton Nursery School.

January 30, 1943—The University holds its first winter Commencement for “accelerated students,” those who take classes year-round to finish sooner in order to join the Allies in their fight against the Axis powers in World War II.

Princeton University Winter Commencement schedule, 1943. Commencement Records (AC115), Box 9, Folder 4.

January 31, 1774—Charles Beatty (Class of 1775) makes the first known written use of the word “campus” to describe college grounds, in reference to Princeton: “Last week to show our patriotism, we gathered all the steward’s winter store of tea, and having made a fire in the Campus, we there burnt near a dozen pounds, tolled the bell and made many spirited resolves.” (Note: Some sources attribute the first use of “campus” to describe college grounds to College of New Jersey (Princeton University) president John Witherspoon.)

C_Clinton_Beatty_Diploma_1775 AC138_Cab5_Draw8
Charles Clinton Beatty’s A.B. diploma, 1775. Princeton University Diploma Collection (AC138), Cabinet 5, Drawer 8.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

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