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This Week in Princeton History for March 9-15

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, undergrads form the Veterans of Future Wars, a civil rights protest turns violent, and more.

March 11, 1936—About 200 Princeton undergraduates form the Veterans of Future Wars, a cynical club that satirically petitions the U.S. government for a “bonus” similar to that of World War I veterans. The organization will achieve tremendous success, with chapters at many other colleges, as well as an auxiliary organization, the Future Gold Star Mothers, at Vassar. During World War II, nearly all members will join the military.

VFW ad from Princetonian_1936-05-11_v61_n076_0001
Ad from the Daily Princetonian.

March 12, 1960—The day before Martin Luther King, Jr. preaches in the Princeton University chapel, a crowd gathers to protest segregation in front of the Nassau Street Woolworth Store, inspired by sophomore R. Hunter Morey ’62: “Is he being invited as a status symbol to show how aware we Princetonians are, or is there possibly some genuine concern for the facts of racial inequality…[?] The F. W. Woolworth Company’s policy of segregated lunch counters in Southern areas is totally counter to the spirit of racial equality and human dignity…” Black and white shoppers are generally “unsympathetic” to the picketers, the Daily Princetonian will report. Frustrations give way to violence when a mob of high school students attacks protesters.

Photo and headline from the Daily Princetonian.

March 13, 1971—A pair of Princeton’s first female undergraduates break into a male junior’s dorm room armed with a knife and a wood carving tool, then destroy about 40 square feet of Playboy pinups. “We don’t regret it; it feels good,” one says afterward. The two will later be put on disciplinary probation.

March 14, 1887—A University Hall lecture on Mormons asserts “there is no danger of Mormonism spreading from Utah, except into Nevada,” as it is “on the wane” and will “little exist by the end of the century.”

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

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