Princeton University: The First 250 Years
Trustees of Princeton University, 1995 - 272 pages
To celebrate Princeton University's 250th birthday, this richly illustrated full-color book combines an engaging text and vignettes of campus life with long-lost as well as familiar images gathered from Princeton's own collections and afar. An ideal gift book, it tells the story of Princeton's evolution from a humble parsonage in Elizabeth, New Jersey into one of the world's most renowned institutions of teaching and learning.
The first half of the book focuses on major turning points and personalities as Princeton evolved over its first two centuries into a distinctive institution and a distinctive campus culture: its founding as the College of New Jersey, its move to Princeton and the construction of Nassau Hall, its pivotal role in the American Revolution when John Witherspoon was the only college president to sign the Declaration of Independence, the deep divisions of the Civil War, and the emergence of a modern university under James McCosh and Woodrow Wilson.
The second half examines the post-World War II era when Princeton significantly increased the diversity of its student body (and in the 1960s became coeducational); expanded its commitment to graduate education, research, and new fields of knowledge; weathered an era of campus protest and created new structures for undergraduate life. In a final chapter the book looks into Princeton's future with its president and some current students.
The author, Don Oberdorfer, witnessed this modern era first-hand as a student (Class of 1952), alumnus, and occasional faculty member. He describes the enormous changes of this period and breathes new life into Princeton's earlier history with a journalist's eye for the most important and interesting facts and the most revealing anecdotes.