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This Week in Princeton History for April 6-12

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Prohibition ends, the Board of Trustees urges parents not to send students money, and more.

April 6, 1771—The Rittenhouse Orrery, the most noted scientific instrument of its time, arrives in Nassau Hall, where it will prove to be a tourist attraction for travelers from across the world.

Gillett G. Griffin, pen and ink drawing of the Rittenhouse Orrery arriving at Nassau Hall, University Library Records (AC123), Box 302.

April 9, 1802—United States President Thomas Jefferson donates one hundred dollars toward the rebuilding of Nassau Hall after a devastating fire.

April 10, 1933—For the first time since before World War I, the Nassau Inn begins selling beer at 9:00AM. These are the first legal drinks available in town. Freshmen are not permitted to buy beer, but the Inn sets up three rooms for seniors, juniors, and sophomores, and a fourth for townspeople. (State law still prohibits the sale of alcohol over a bar, so drinks may only be served at tables and in booths.) Administrators warn students that in spite of the repeal of the 18th Amendment, drinking in dorm rooms is still prohibited.

As this 1889 photo shows, drinking in dorms at Princeton was not uncommon prior to Prohibition. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP14, Item No. 3500.

April 11, 1812—The Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) sends a letter to the parents of students asking them not to give their children too much money while they are in school, because “spending of much money by the Students of this College is not necessary, nor useful, nor honourable, but in all respects injurious…”

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

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

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