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This Week in Princeton History for March 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Nassau Hall is almost totally destroyed, undergraduates rescue stranded train passengers, and more.

March 9, 1770—The Providence Gazette reports that James Caldwell (Class of 1759) is on his way back to Princeton from Charleston, South Carolina with ₤700 he has raised for the College of New Jersey.

The Board of Trustees acknowledged Caldwell’s efforts at their next meeting on September 26, 1770. By then he had reportedly raised over ₤1,000. Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey/Princeton University, Vol. 1, Board of Trustees Records (AC102).

March 10, 1855—Students, staff, faculty, and local townspeople struggle to save Nassau Hall as the building burns nearly completely to the ground. By a striking coincidence, the fire occurs on the 53rd anniversary of the Nassau Hall fire of 1802.

A local account of the 1855 Nassau Hall fire. Grounds and Buildings Historical Subject Files (AC110), Box 7, Folder 7.

March 12, 1888—Students dig the “Dinky” out of several feet of snow to rescue stranded passengers during the Great Blizzard of 1888.

Students shoveling snow from around the “Dinky,” March 12, 1888. Historical Photograph Collection, Student Photographers Series (AC163), Box SP1, Image No. 38. View more photos of the Blizzard of 1888 in Princeton on our Tumblr page.

March 13, 1971—Approximately 150 minority students occupy Firestone Library after its normal closing time to protest a proposed financial aid policy that would cap “disadvantaged” student admissions to 10% of the whole. The sit in lasts only a few hours.

Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

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

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