This collection contains early scores and lyrics to Princeton University's alma mater “Old Nassau” as well as information about the song and the men who created it. Included are biographical information pertaining to the lives of the song's composer and lyricist, both before and after 1859. Other materials were assembled by Wilford Conrow (Class of 1901) as research for the publication Old Nassau (1905), a book containing the original song and its variations and several related essays.
This collection consists of a variety of material relating to the alma mater of Princeton University, “Old Nassau.” Written in 1859, the song has been sung on every occasion, and has greatly contributed to the ever strong bond among generations of University members. Until a German tutor, Karl A. Langlotz, wrote the music on one night in 1859, the lyric that Harlan Page Peck, class of 1862, wrote for Nassau Literary Magazine earlier in the same year had been sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne.”
The first three folders in this collection concern the lyricist of “Old Nassau,” the Rev. Harlan Page Peck. His westward move as a Presbyterian minister and subsequent disappearance in 1886 on a Californian shore made his life not easily traceable. The collection nevertheless contains material documenting his life after Princeton. As lyricist of “Old Nassau” and the “Poetically-constituted” of the class of 1859, aspects of Peck's life assume a certain significance of typicality in nineteenth-century America: his adolescence as an orphan, ordination as a Presbyterian minister, westward migration as a missionary, marriage to a divorced woman--common among western migrants--and even his unexpected death on a mission.
In striking contrast to Peck, the composer of “Old Nassau,” Karl A. Langlotz, was “discovered” later in his life and enjoyed his belated prominence. This collection contains his correspondence and other related material. Despite the quantity of material, details of Langlotz's life that were not related to the song are not well revealed. Put otherwise, one could glance at the indulgence in which Princetonians invested in their beloved college song and anything of relevance.
One such Princetonian was Wilford Conrow, Class of 1901, whose donations indeed constitute a large part of the present collection. Since a group of Princeton alumni “found” Langlotz in Trenton in 1901, Conrow established a close relationship with the old composer and initiated a number of commemorative projects. Most notably, his publication of Old Nassau (1905), a book containing the original song and its variations and several related essays, is prominently featured in this collection. Not only are details of the book-making process meticulously documented, but also the volume reveals many nuances about Princeton's beloved song and its composer.
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the University Archivist. Under the Copyright Law of 1976, copyright to much of this material will expire on January 1, 2003. Researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright prior to that time.
“Old Nassau” Collection; 1859-1989, Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.