Princeton Weekly Bulletin   October 15, 2007, Vol. 97, No. 5   prev   next   current

By the numbers

The Center for African American Studies

Princeton NJ — In September 2006, President Tilghman launched the Center for African American Studies at Princeton to serve as a model for teaching and research on race in America. At the same time she announced that Stanhope Hall would be renovated to serve as its home. With the renovations complete, the center moved into Stanhope this fall and began using the building’s offices for faculty, staff and visiting scholars and its seminar rooms for classes (see story in this issue).


For more information on the center, a PDF of the publication is available for download.

“The Center for African American Studies in Stanhope Hall,” a book produced by the Office of Communications, provides an overview of the history of Stanhope Hall and the development of African American studies at Princeton. The book was written by William Selden, a 1934 Princeton graduate who has written other works on campus history, and Neil Rudenstine, a former Princeton provost and former president of Harvard University.

• Stanhope Hall, built in 1803, is the third-oldest building on the Princeton campus (only Nassau Hall and Maclean House are older). The building, originally known as Geological Hall, housed the college’s library, study halls, a recitation room where the president held his classes and rooms on the upper floor for the debating and literary societies.

• The building was renamed the College Offices in 1825 and was converted to office space to accommodate various campus offices and, in later years, the campus police. In 1915, Stanhope Hall was given its current name, which honors Samuel Stanhope Smith, the seventh president of Princeton.

• In 1969, the University’s faculty created the Program in African American Studies, which offered two courses in the fall of that year, on black American writers and African American history. By the spring semester, the roster had expanded to seven courses with a total of more than 500 students enrolled.

• Today the center has a senior faculty of national and international standing. Among its members are Kwame Anthony Appiah, Valerie Smith and Cornel West, as well as emeriti professors Toni Morrison and Nell Painter.

• Academic work in the field relates to a wide variety of academic subjects, from Francophone literature to 20th-century European art and from the evolution of Christianity in the United States to the population migrations of the species Homo sapiens. A large and growing number of scholars and teachers are engaged in research in the field, with a diversity of students interested in the subject matter.

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