120. Women at Princeton During WWII


During World War II, when Princeton was largely administered under military aegis, 23 women took part in a government-sponsored defense course in photogammetry.  Following a Newark Star-Ledger article about this coed class, President Harold Dodds felt compelled to explain that “the girls” were not degree students and had been admitted only because federal programs forbade discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color or gender.  Due to the teacher shortage of the era, a few women were permitted to grade papers and exams, as well as aid in foreign language instruction at Princeton.  One local woman, a former Smith faculty member with a Ph.D. in physics, taught elementary physics for that overwhelmed department.  But these need-based exceptions ended with the war, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that women again participated in the academic life of the University.

  • To learn more about the history of women at Princeton, see quotation #14, 23, 26, 28, and 32, and Café Vivian picture #2, 13, 30, 31, 44, 69, 76, 84, 93, 100, and 117.

  • To learn more about Princeton during World War II, see quotation #7 and 37, and Café Vivian picture #65, 82, 88, and 113.