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This Week in Princeton History for February 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the library makes a significant change in how it catalogs books, the Board of Trustees is divided over a hiring decision, and more.

February 5, 1976—University Librarian Richard Boss announces that new materials will use the Library of Congress classification system rather than the Richardson system unique to Princeton, originally developed in the 1890s by Boss’s predecessor, Ernest Cushing Richardson. Richardson felt that the Dewey classification system was inappropriate for a research library. However, in the open stacks, books with Richardson numbers would not be completely phased out until 2011.

An employee shelves books in the Princeton University Library, ca. 1970s. The call numbers here are all Richardson numbers. (Click to enlarge.) Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box MP06, Image No. 132.

February 7, 1870—A student writes anonymously to the Newark Daily Journal to report on the news of the College of New Jersey (Princeton), saying that controversies swirling around Prof. Joseph Kargé’s use of profanity as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War have divided the Board of Trustees over whether he should be given a permanent position teaching French and German. “Ex-Governor Olden and N. N. Halsted, Trustees of Princeton College, so rumor reports, have said that if Kargé is appointed regular Professor of Modern Languages here they will resign. Other Trustees say if he is not made regular Professor here they will resign—and so the matter stands; while the students say they will have no other Professor than Kargé.”

Joseph Kargé, undated. Historical Photograph Collection, Faculty Photographs Series (AC067), Box FAC053.

February 9, 1942—Princeton University adopts War Time as a substitute for Eastern Standard Time, shifting clocks ahead one hour. (War Time is year-round Daylight Saving Time.)

February 11, 1903—The Daily Princetonian announces that the University Library has received a donation of a manuscript copy of the College Laws of 1764 from A. C. Avery, grandson of Waightstill Avery of the Class of 1766. Rules include requirements that students sit in alphabetical order at meals and refrain from gossip: “No scholar shall spread abroad anything transacted in this house [Nassau Hall] which being publicly known may tend to injure the credit of the institution or disturb the peace of the members.”

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

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