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Date: October 14, 1996
Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-5732

Princeton Marks 250th Birthday with Retrospective Exhibition

PRINCETON, N.J. -- One hundred years of Princeton University history is captured in a colorful new exhibition running from October 14 to January 12 in the main gallery of Firestone Library. Entitled "Out of Tensions, Progress: Princeton as University," the exhibition documents both the far-reaching changes and the enduring principles that have shaped the University since it celebrated its Sesquicentennial in 1896.

More than 200 documents, photographs, and artifacts, culled primarily from the University Archives, take visitors on a fascinating tour of Princeton's past. The evolution of the University's curriculum, campus, student body and faculty, and social, athletic, and scholarly life are illustrated in many ways. So, too, is the interplay of tradition and innovation which has given birth to such phenomena as coeducation and the preceptorial system of instruction.

The exhibition offers revealing insights into the milestones in Princeton's history, some of which were fraught with controversy. From the formation of the Graduate College to the admission of women; from the pulling down of East College and Reunion Hall to the creation of the Forrestal campus and a system of residential colleges; from the development of new curricula to the introduction of new funding formulas, Princeton has broken new ground while preserving portions of the old.

Many Princetonians are featured in the exhibition. Visitors can view F. Scott Fitzgerald's less than stellar grade card, Jimmy Stewart as a butler in "The Play's the Thing," a flour covered Class of 1914 (a rite of passage no longer inflicted on the freshmen), some of the 56 preceptors whom Woodrow Wilson hired and who molded the University between the wars, and the senior theses of Paul Volcker, James Baker, and Wendy Kopp, all of whom chose subjects in the fields they would later influence.

Nothing is more telling, perhaps, than the wall of photographs that greets the visitor on entering the exhibition gallery. Juxtaposing past and present, this striking collage bears witness to Princeton's changing complexion but persistent vitality. There is, for example, the dormitory room of 1897, with its bow-tied and serious-looking occupants, as well as the dormitory room of 1996, with its bare-legged and decidedly relaxed inhabitants. There is the Triangle musical of 1898, in which students masqueraded as women, blacks, and "aborigines," as well as the genuine diversity of Triangle's 1994 production. Framing the century, as it were, are evocative photographs of Francis Landey Patton, the last clergyman, and Harold Shapiro, the first non-Protestant, to serve as president of Princeton.

The exhibition may be viewed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. For further information, please call (609) 258-6345.