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This Week in Princeton History for July 18-24

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a material shortage forever alters a Princeton tradition, an alum is forced to take charge, and more.

July 20, 1943—Due to shortages of the material needed, all members of the Class of 1945 who want beer jackets must have registered their requests already. No unregistered student will be eligible. University Store officials say that the material shortage will mean that the Class of 1945 will have to dispense with the overalls, and just have a jacket. This change will ultimately be permanent.

The Class of 1945’s beer jacket graphic was designed by John M. Kauffman ’45. The “Toll Tiger” (a take on the mascot popularized by Henry Toll ’42) holds a rifle and wears a medal to symbolize the class’s military service. The tiger looks puzzled as a symbol of the uncertainty the class felt about the future. The tiger’s shadow is the shadow of the self, whose straw hat, club tie, cane, bottle, and book reflect expectations of college life that were not fully realized. The numbers for the class year are written in broken lines to symbolize that class unity was shattered by World War II, with the cross line of the numeral “4” remaining solid to reflect the war’s intervention in separating students from one another. For his work, Kauffman was given a free jacket. Beer Jacket Designs Collection (AC313), Box 2.

July 21, 1797—A writer in New York’s Time Piece questions Princeton’s decision to offer an honorary degree to the controversial “Peter Porcupine” (William Cobbett).

A man may be very dexterous at the manual exercise, or bawling out, to ‘the right wheel,’ and yet be no way entitled to L.L.D.—Or a person may play very well on a horse fiddle, in the fields, who would make but a poor figure in the Orchestra or a Theatre.

July 22, 1818—James E. B. Finney writes to his son, Samuel Benjamin Rush Finley, Class of 1820, to ask whether he has appropriate clothing to wear to Princeton’s Commencement Ball: “What is the state of your wardrobe? Are your coats very decent, and your pantaloons and vests? Your cravats, shirts, stockings, etc., are they in good order?”

Commencement Ball invitation, 1820. Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 1.

July 23, 1898—Frank H. Lord, Class of 1879, is in sole charge of the Army’s Commissary Depot in Siboney, Cuba, since the regular Depot Commissary has taken ill with yellow fever and the Chief Commissary is in Santiago. He organizes a team of Cubans to help run supplies.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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