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This Week in Princeton History for July 27-August 2

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the governor seals the college charter, trends in the overall diversity of the incoming class are mixed, and more.

July 27, 1942—A Daily Princetonian editorial criticizes Secretary of State Cordell Hull for “abundant lip service” lacking substantive action. The editorial urges America to live up to its principles rather than merely claiming them: “And while the Negro, for example, is exploited in this country and given no more than meagre opportunities for realizing his potentialities, how far have we succeeded in making that promise any more [than] another ‘fine illustration of the white man’s hypocrisy?’”

July 28, 1748—Gov. Jonathan Belcher writes to Ebenezer Pemberton to invite him and Aaron Burr to visit the governor in Burlington to pick up the College charter, now that the seal is on it.

Seal of the governor of the province of New Jersey, 1748.
Detail of the governor’s seal affixed to the 1748 Charter of the College of New Jersey (note that New Jersey is here referred to by its Latin name, Nova Caesarea in America). Board of Trustees Records (AC120).

July 29, 1985—The latest statistics from the Office of Admission indicate that, for the first time, an incoming class will be more than 40% female, with 475 women in the Class of 1989 out of a total of 1,165 of those applicants who accepted offers of admission. There are also record highs of Asian Americans (102) and Californians (82). Though this reflects an increase in diversity by some measures, other trends are reversing, with African American representation down 15% to less than 6% of the incoming class (69 students). Despite the influx of Californians, the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania tri-state area are still heavily represented, with 37% of the incoming class (431 students).

Chart showing upward trends in admissions for women and Asians but a downward trend for Black students in the classes of 1985-1989.
Chart prepared using statistical data gathered from reports in the Daily Princetonian. Note that there would have been overlap in these categories. Click to enlarge.

July 31, 1931—In an article in the Princeton Herald, Princeton University instructor of dramatic art Robert H. Ball laments the end of the silent film era and warns that “talkies” carry the risk of ruining movies. “Where silent movement became audible, you had sound and fury signifying nothing.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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