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This Week in Princeton History for February 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students request that their grades not be shared publicly, a writer cites a Princeton president to bolster an argument against dancing, and more.

February 6, 1879—Students ask that the College cease the custom of printing their grades for public review, on the basis that it is embarrassing to some after a New York newspaper reprinted them.

February 7, 1901—Two Princeton students are arrested at the stage door of the Herald Square theater in New York for “mashing” (i.e., making unwelcome advances toward or harassing) the chorus girls, according to a report in the Albany Times-Union.

February 9, 1819—A letter to the editor of Utica, New York’s Patriot cites former Princeton president Samuel Davies to bolster its anti-dancing argument: “Dr. Davies, one of the venerable and learned presidents of Princeton College, speaking on this subject, while he does not rank this amusement among the most heinous offences, says in substance, that he should have very little hope of seeing religion flourish in a church composed of dancing, frolicking Christians.”

Though the Patriot writer may have appealed to a Princetonian’s ideas to argue against dancing, there was plenty of dancing and frolicking going on in town in the early 19th century, especially at the annual ball celebrating Princeton’s Commencement. Commencement Ball invitation, 1824. Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 1.

February 12, 1927—A Daily Princetonian editorial ends up in a Philosophy 201 exam, in which students are asked to evaluate the veracity of the claim, “True education may be measured by a man’s capacity to enjoy life.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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