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History of the Eating Club System

The eating club system has existed at Princeton for more than a century. The first club, Ivy Club, was founded in 1879 by students in response to the College's inability to provide adequate dining facilities for its growing student population. By the early 1900s there were 13 clubs and in 1906 two-thirds of upperclassmen were eating regularly on Prospect Avenue. At this point, President Wilson feared the University was in danger of becoming "only an artistic setting and background for life on Prospect Avenue.'' But despite Wilson's worries and his advocacy of alternatives, the eating club system continued to expand; by the end of World War I, 75% of upperclassmen were members of 17 eating clubs. Since then, three more clubs appeared and nine dissolved. Today, approximately 75% of Princeton juniors and seniors are members of Prospect's 10 eating clubs.

(Adapted from A Princeton Companion.)

Ivy Club II, c. 1888  (Photo courtesy of Mudd Manuscript Library)
Ivy Club II, c.1888

Tower Club, 1921 (Photo courtesy of Mudd Manuscript Library)
Tower Club, 1921
(Photos courtesy Mudd Manuscript Library)

Charter Club, 1930 (Photo courtesy of Mudd Manuscript Library)
Charter Club, 1930