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This Week in Princeton History for November 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students mourn the loss of four in their class, a Philadelpha newspaper responds to Princeton’s president, and more.

November 7, 1958—The Women’s Auxiliary of the Philadelphia Section of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers has made a donation of $500 to the Princeton University’s electrical engineering department. They raised the funds at a card-playing party.

November 8, 1855—A member of the Class of 1856 writes for the New York Observer about the intense grief among seniors at Princeton after four of its members have died in the span of a year (Thomas J. Trippe, Herman L. Platt, John Hun Meads, and Sylvester Larned Hennen):

A College is a family on a large scale, and the students stand to one another in the relation of brothers…It may be imagined then with what a force of feeling they lament the death of one of their number; with what blackness sorrow veils the youthful heart, with what eloquence grief speaks from the moist eye. … In the Princeton graveyard the class of 1856 have reared a marble shaft, and soon they propose to erect another, whereby to perpetuate the memories of those who have left them for the Spirit Land.

Students’ monuments in Princeton Cemetery, 1860. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP24, Image No. 580.

November 11, 1885—Students urge Princeton to reconsider the schedule for the holiday break, which begins on December 23 this year. Instead, they ask that the institution let students leave around December 21, because otherwise many students will not get to spend the holidays with their families. “This is just to the Southern and Western students who do not the less desire to get home for Christmas, because they happen to live a long way off.”

November 12, 1836—Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia) writes in response to Princeton president James Carnahan’s defense of the institution in the wake of a student’s attack on abolitionist minister Theodore Wright at Commencement,

Are the public to understand it as a law of Nassau Hall, that ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ must not be seated in their chapel, even on a bench in the aisle, if they happen to be colored, however worthy or decent they may be, so long as any white men remain unaccommodated? If so let it be known forthwith. Let it be published in the newspapers and posted up over the doors of the chapel in large capitals BLACK MINISTERS WILL PLEASE NOT BE SEATED IN THIS CHAPEL UNTIL OTHER PEOPLE ARE ACCOMMODATED–JAMES CARNAHAN, D. D., PRESIDENT.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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