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This Week in Princeton History for June 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, sophomores host the first big dance, newly unionized staff receive double-digit-percentage pay increases, and more.

June 21, 1877—Princetonians experience their first official big dance on campus. The Sophomore Reception, hosted by the Class of 1879 for the Class of 1877, promises to liven up what the Princetonian has otherwise described as “a first-class funeral” as the typical celebration for graduates. Not everyone is welcome to attend, however; admission to campus requires a ticket, a system designed to “[keep] out the indiscriminate crowd of snobs and negroes.” (“Snobs” is Princeton slang for townies.)

The Sophomore Reception was successful enough to be repeated annually for decades until the Senior Promenade replaced it in the 1930s. This is the cover of the program for the Class of 1894’s Sophomore Reception in honor of the Class of 1892. Student Dances Collection (AC282).

June 23, 1923—The Chicago Defender reports: “Princeton University, notorious for its ‘color line,’ will admit Race [Black] students in the future. Indications are that a new spirit of unity is being developed in the university town between the two Races and the student body, to the effect that deserving Race students prepared to pass the entrance examinations at Princeton will be admitted to the student body.” This will not occur for a few decades.

June 26, 1978—Effective today, the newly unionized Princeton University Library Assistants will receive a 12.5-16.5% increase in pay under the collective bargaining contract. The lowest paid employees will receive the greatest percentage of the increase.

June 27, 1851—Thomas Mifflin Hall, Class of 1853, notes in his diary: “During vacation I neglected to write in my diary, which I have lamented ever since, as it was the pleasantest six weeks I have spent since entrance into college.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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