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This Week in Princeton History for March 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, juniors take up roller skating when cars are banned, a fire forces the school to start over almost from scratch, and more.

March 2, 1927—In order to protest the new “car rule,” which bans student use of automobiles on campus, Princeton juniors take to roller skating. The New York Times reports on their activities, noting the posters the skaters pinned to their shirts, with various comic slogans, including “And Mama said I could.” Five of the skaters will be photographed for the March 13, 1927 issue of the New York Herald Tribune. Although their efforts capture national attention, ultimately the car rule will remain in effect for decades.

Three students with a car on campus, ca. 1920s, presumably before the ban on student use of automobiles. Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box SP14, Item No. 3412.

March 4, 1809—James Madison, “Father of the Constitution” and Princeton Class of 1771, is inaugurated as the fourth president of the United States.

James Madison, Class of 1771, and the building named after him. Undergraduate Alumni Records 1748-1920 (AC104), Box 22.

March 6, 1802—An early afternoon fire guts Nassau Hall, destroying all but 100 of the library’s 3,000 books and leaving nothing standing but the four exterior walls. Classes will resume one month later, at the president’s home.

First page of a letter soliciting donations to rebuild the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) following the 1802 Nassau Hall fire. Board of Trustees Records (AC120), Box 5.

March 7, 1882—The first issue of the Princeton Tiger appears.

Cover of the first issue of Princeton Tiger magazine, March 7, 1882.

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

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