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This Week in Princeton History for August 15-21

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a dean dreams of pretty postcards, the natural history museum receives a significant donation of specimens, and more.

August 15, 1923—Andrew Fleming West, Dean of the Graduate School, writes to a friend about his hopes to get attractive postcards printed showing scenes around campus: “They have such cards at Oxford and Cambridge—really artistic souvenirs—some from photographs, some from pen-and-ink drawings. Why, O why can’t we do it?”

This postcard booklet contained 16 images from Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary’s campuses, with Nassau Hall on the cover (shown here) and the Graduate College on the reverse. It appears to date from the 1930s or 1940s. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045).

August 16, 1942—Harold Dodds explains why Princeton has chosen to keep its accelerated program voluntary and does not, in contrast to Yale, make military service compulsory for undergraduates.

August 17, 1758—Acting Princeton president Caleb Smith writes to Jonathan Sergeant to make arrangements for Samuel Davies’s move to town to take the helm.

Letter from Caleb Smith to Jonathan Sergeant, August 17, 1758, which reads: “Mr. Cowele[,] Mr. Stockton and myself are appointed a Committee to transact the Affair of Mr. Davies[‘] removal, & you are hereby desired to let Mr. Isaac Smith the Bearer have £17.0.0 for which this may serve as an order.” Sergeant Family Collection (C1192), Firestone Library.
August 20, 1821—Captain Robert Field Stockton of the U.S.S. Alligator presents to Princeton’s natural history museum “a collection of animals in the most perfect state of preservation, taken in the interior and on the western coast of Africa.” Stockton has collected the specimens while patrolling the area as a deterrent to the illegal slave trade and while looking for land for the American Colonization Society to acquire (which will later become Liberia). Newspapers across the United States will reprint a letter from a Princetonian announcing the donation.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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