PU shield
PWB logo


By the numbers

Princeton Firsts

As one of the oldest universities in the country, Princeton's history has included a number of notable ''firsts'':

More information about Princeton's history can be found in ''Princeton University: The First 250 Years'' by Don Oberdorfer (PU Store), ''A Princeton Companion'' by Alexander Leitch, and on the Princetoniana <site> and Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library <site> Web sites.

• The first recorded use of the now common understanding of the word ''campus'' in 1774 was generally attributed to Princeton's sixth president, John Witherspoon.

• The University's landmark Nassau Hall, built in 1756, was the temporary home of the Continental Congress and was the site where the Congress first learned the British had signed a peace treaty granting independence to the former colonies in 1783.

• Princeton is believed to be the first college to offer the subject of archaeology, as the study of Roman antiquities first appeared in the University catalog in 1831.

• Princeton faced Rutgers in the first American intercollegiate football game in New Brunswick, N.J., on Nov. 6, 1869.

• The first American collegiate track meet, the Caledonian Games, was held at Princeton on June 21, 1873.

• Princeton astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer first proposed the idea of launching a telescope into space, long before the technical capacity existed. In 2003, 57 years after he first advocated the idea, NASA named a major space telescope after Spitzer, who died in 1997.

• In 2001, Princeton became the first selective private university to institute a ''no-loan'' financial aid policy, replacing loans for undergraduates with grants that do not need to be repaid.