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This Week in Princeton History for February 15-21

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, reports of a strange creature living in the lake captivate imaginations on campus, a banner is stolen, and more.

February 16, 1758—The Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) vote to repeal a rule requiring students to wear caps and gowns (“peculiar habits”). This rule will be reinstated in 1768.

Peculiar habits
Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey (Princeton), February 16, 1758. Board of Trustees Records (AC120), Vol. 1.

February 18, 1934—Two local children report seeing a “sea serpent” thrashing in the icy waters of Princeton University’s Lake Carnegie. The “Carnegie Monster” will become campus lore off and on for a few decades.

The “Carnegie Monster” as envisioned by the Princeton Pictorial, June 1934.

February 19, 1796—The New Jersey Assembly passes an “Act Concerning the College of New-Jersey,” providing six hundred pounds per year for three years for the use of the college to repair damages following the Battle of Princeton, “in consequence of the devastations and calamities of the war.”

February 21, 1976—Eight intruders break into Douglas S. Brown ’79 and Michael Mintz ’78’s dorm room at around 12:30AM. Though Brown, who was sleeping, is physically unharmed, the intruders ransack the room and steal a large Gay Alliance of Princeton (GAP) banner from the window. This is the latest and most severe in a rash of targeted harassment against the two GAP members after they hung the banner in late January. One week later, the Daily Princetonian will receive the banner in the mail, torn into strips, along with a note reading “hetero is bettero.” After an investigation, eight students will be put on two years’ probation in connection with the incident.

The Gay Alliance of Princeton banner stolen from a dorm room window on February 21, 1976. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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

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