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This Week in Princeton History for March 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a senior reflects on the appearances of New Left activists, two students are lauded for solving a jewel robbery case, and more.

March 7, 1967—Robert Griss ’67 theorizes that growing a beard and long hair predisposes students to join the Students for a Democratic Society. “By adopting its regalia, the follower of the New Left subjects himself to social ostracism that reinforces his notion that the system is oppressive, which stimulates his appreciation of the urgency for radical social change. It is therefore not coincidental that so many social reformers exhibit the regalia of social deviants.”

A group of protesters holding a sign with a graphic giving a middle finger to ROTC with a dollar sign next to it
Students for a Democratic Society protesting the presence of the ROTC on the campus of Princeton University, 1969. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 38.

March 8, 1868—John Maclean preaches at the funeral for Anthony Simmons, who was formerly enslaved, and who more recently has been a prosperous local entrepreneur. Simmons owned and operated an eatery popular among students, many of whom attend the funeral.

March 10, 1940—Dean of the Faculty Robert K. Root issues a statement on the health of the University’s president, Harold Willis Dodds. Following a bout with influenza in January, Dodds has not yet recovered. Doctors have ordered “entire relaxation from his usual activities” until further notice. In the meantime, deans and administrative offices will assume extra duties.

March 11, 1892—Two Princeton students are credited for bringing about the arrest of a Yale graduate, Webster C. Hill, for stealing $150 worth of jewelry (about $5,000 in 2023 dollars) from Alice McElvaine in Princeton, New Jersey. As newspapers nationwide will report, the students, among many other of their peers, attended a party at McElvaine’s home, after which she discovered her belongings missing. The Princetonians became suspicious of Hill when they learned he registered at a local hotel using a different name and extracted a confession from him. At the time of his arrest, Hill had several of McElvaine’s stolen jewelry pieces on his person.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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