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This Week in Princeton History for May 6-12

By April C. Armstrong *14

In this week’s installment in our recurring series, a student expresses unhappiness, an alum talks about the challenges and rewards of working as a White House press secretary, and more.

May 6, 1841—A local memorial service is held for the recently deceased U.S. president, William Henry Harrison.

May 7, 1911—Alongside notes from other classmates under the header “Happy Thoughts,” Charles Allen, Jr. writes in Wilder H. Haines’s scrapbook, “My thoughts cannot be happy in this room.”

Handwritten note: "My thoughts cannot be happy in this room."
Note from Charles Allen, Jr. to Wilder H. Haines (Class of 1915). The Greek note, written by another student, is unrelated (“Τοῖς Ἕλλησι ἡ λιτότης μᾶλλον ἢ ἡ πολυτέλεια ἔστι προτιμητέα,” i.e., “For the Greeks simplicity is preferred to extravagance” (translation by Dave Jenkins)). Scrapbook Collection (AC026), Box 277.

May 9, 1936—A writer in the Chicago Defender urges athletes Jimmy Lu Valle and Jesse Owens to refuse the invitation of Princeton University to compete in a track meet because of its discriminatory admissions policies.

May 10, 1998—Acknowledging that it is a “painful time” to be in the role of White House press secretary given ongoing discussion of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky (which Clinton is denying), Mike McCurry ’76 tells an audience in Dodds Auditorium that it is still “the best job on earth.”

Mike McCurry ’76 speaking on campus at Princeton University, November 1995. Images from contact sheet found in the Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 155.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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