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This Week in Princeton History for October 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, women gather to discuss sexism on campus, a new kind of roof is being installed for Nassau Hall, and more.

October 5, 1978—Female students and staff hold an exclusive meeting to discuss sexism on campus. Barring men from the meeting is controversial, but the women say this is necessary, “because a lot of women feel uncomfortable saying things in front of men that they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying in front of women.” At the meeting, women complain about inadequate medical care, discriminatory employment practices, and professors who penalize female students for refusing their sexual advances.

Marsha Rosenthal ’76 collected a variety of material on women’s issues while she was a student at Princeton University. This pamphlet, published by Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in 1973, is among the reading material apparently available to Princetonians in the 1970s and is evidence of the concerns of the community.  Marsha Rosenthal Course Materials and Student Activism Materials (AC409), Box 2.

October 7, 1997—Marvin Gray ’66 is denied a federal judgeship because of involvement in a segregationist organization while a Princeton student. Gray was president of the Princeton Committee for Racial Reconciliation, which formed in 1964 in order to fight against “equalitarian, integrationist propaganda we have been force-fed for most of our lives.” Gray’s defenders say he should not be held responsible for views expressed in college.

In April 1964, the Committee for Racial Reconciliation, a student organization at Princeton University that advocated maintaining segregation in the American South, held elections for some of its leadership. Civil Rights activists on campus saw an opportunity and staged a coup. About 100 integration supporters from the student body attended the group’s meeting and managed to elect an African American student, Robert F. Engs ’65, its Vice President, shown here next to Marvin Gray ’66 in a clipping from the Daily Princetonian.

October 8, 1833—Princeton professor Joseph Henry has reportedly invented the strongest magnet on earth.

Joseph Henry, ca. 1843. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box 22.

October 9, 1802—Benjamin H. Latrobe is supervising the installation of Nassau Hall’s sheet iron roof, the first such roof in America.

Unknown artist’s rendering of Nassau Hall, ca. 1825. Nassau Hall Iconography Collection (AC177), Box 1.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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