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A Princeton Timeline


1696 Town of Princeton settled.


1746 College of New Jersey founded in Elizabeth, New Jersey, by the Presbyterian Synod.

1747 College moves to Newark, New Jersey.

1748 Present charter granted in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

1753 Nathaniel and Rebeckah FitzRandolph and others deed 10 acres in Princeton to the College.

1756 Nassau Hall completed; College of New Jersey moves from Newark to Princeton.

1769 American Whig Debating Society formed.

1770 Cliosophic Debating Society formed.

1776 President John Witherspoon signs the Declaration of Independence.

1777 George Washington drives the British from Nassau Hall.

1783 Continental Congress meets in Nassau Hall, which served as the capitol of the United States from June until November.


1826 James Madison, Class of 1771 and former president of the United States, becomes the first president of the Alumni Association of the College of New Jersey.

1876 The Princetonian is published for the first time (still published daily by students during the academic year).

1882 Princeton University Art Museum founded.

1883 Triangle Club (originally called the Princeton College Dramatic Association) founded.

1893 Honor system established.

1896 Name officially changed to Princeton University.


1900 Graduate School established.

1905 President Woodrow Wilson establishes system of preceptorials.

1906 Lake Carnegie created by Andrew Carnegie.

1913 Graduate College dedicated.

1919 School of Architecture established.

1921 School of Engineering established.

1928 Princeton University Chapel dedicated.

1930 School of Public and International Affairs established.

1933 Albert Einstein becomes a life member of the Institute for Advanced Study, with an office on the Princeton University campus.

1940 Program of Annual Giving established. Undergraduate radio station (then WPRU, now WPRB) founded.

1948 Firestone Library dedicated.

1951 Forrestal Campus established on U.S. Route 1; “Project Matterhorn” research in nuclear fusion begins there. In 1961 its name is changed to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

1964 Ph.D. degree awarded to a woman for the first time.

1969 Trustees vote to admit women undergraduates.

1970 Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), a deliberative body of faculty, students, staff and alumni, is established.

1971 Third World Center founded (renamed the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding in 2002).

1982 System of residential colleges established.

1996 250th anniversary celebrated.


2001 Financial aid policy changes, replacing loans with grants that do not need to be repaid.

2006 University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts established (renamed the Lewis Center for the Arts in 2007), with a mandate to enhance the role of the arts in the University and community.

2007 Four-year residential college system launched with the opening of Whitman College.

2009 Bridge Year Program begins with 20 students deferring admission for one year to engage in international service.