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This Week in Princeton History for December 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a history professor gets national attention, undergraduates protest new library rules, and more.

December 7, 1776—The British Army reaches Princeton to begin the “20 days of tyranny.” Annis Boudinot Stockton hides the papers of the College of New Jersey’s American Whig Society while burying her family silver on the Morven estate. Later, she will be posthumously elected as Whig Hall’s first female member.

December 8, 1998—Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz makes the news for his testimony before the United States Congress, saying to House Republicans aiming to impeach President Bill Clinton, “…history will track you down and condemn you for your cravenness.” The New York Times will later editorialize that his testimony was a “gratuitously patronizing presentation,” but Wilentz will respond that he has been misunderstood.

Sean Wilentz_1994_3_AC168_Box_193
Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz, 1994. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 193.

December 10, 1880—The Princetonian reports that the College of New Jersey (Princeton) Library is trying something new by restricting the use of rare books to a specified location and not allowing their circulation outside the library. The Prince editorializes that “it would be unadvisable even if possible, to make another collection similar” in its restrictions to the John Shaw Pierson (Class of 1840) Civil War Collection,1 the first to be preserved with these methods.

December 12, 1956—250 Princeton University undergraduates disrupt the first showing of Love Me Tender at the Princeton Playhouse, chanting “We want a riot” and “We hate Elvis,” throwing confetti and toilet paper, rattling beer cans filled with rocks, and giving Elvis Presley several sarcastic standing ovations throughout the film.

Ad from the Daily Princetonian.

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.

1. Accessible in 2015 via the Princeton University Library Department of Rare Books and Special Collections under the call number C0199.

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