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This Week in Princeton History for June 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a freshman requests the right to wear a top hat, women make national headlines for Commencement firsts, and more.

June 4, 1930—In a letter to the editor of the Princetonian, a member of the Class of 1933 requests an end to rules limiting the wearing of top hats to upperclassmen on the grounds that “this piece of apparel is indispensable to anyone having any regard for correct social usage… The Freshman or Sophomore feels self-conscious and is at a decided disadvantage in not being permitted to dress himself properly.”

Getting to wear top hats was one of the things that marked the transition from Princeton sophomore to junior in the early 20th century. Here, rising juniors march in Princeton’s annual High Hat Parade in 1915. The tradition began in the 1870s as a way to formally signify that one now had a right to wear a top hat and carry a cane on campus. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Life Series (AC112), Box SP16, Image No. 4072.

June 6, 1944—Princeton responds quietly to news of the allied invasion of France on D-Day, observing it only with a prayer service in the Chapel at 5:00PM.

Princeton University alum James Schaefer ’40 died in the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. Schaefer was a member of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Undergraduate Alumni Records 1921-2015 (AC199).

June 7, 1892—Evelyn College, Princeton’s short-lived women’s college, holds its first Class Day and Commencement.

Although Evelyn College’s first graduating class had a more modest celebration, later classes had a full Commencement Week of activities similar to those at the nearby College of New Jersey (renamed Princeton University in 1896). Evelyn College Class Day program, June 7, 1892, Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 333, Folder 1.

June 9, 1975—Seniors Cynthia Chase and Lisa Siegman are Princeton’s first female valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, making national headlines.

Clipping from the Princeton Alumni Weekly, July 1, 1975.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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