Biography and History

The Alumni Association of Nassau Hall, the school’s first official organization of alumni, was founded on commencement day 1826 under the guidance of then-Professor John Maclean. From the start, the new organization had the express purpose of “promot[ing] the interests of the college and the friendly intercourse of its graduates” and the understood purpose of coordinating efforts to raise funds for the school. As the 19th century progressed, President Maclean and his successor President McCosh came to rely heavily on alumni for financial support of the college’s growth and likewise, the alumni demanded active participation in the management of the school’s affairs. This growth in alumni influence has been cited as a major reason that the Presbyterian Church lost control over the college.

In 1878, in response to agitation from younger alumni for the appointment of a recent graduate to the Board of Trustees, President McCosh proposed the establishment of an Advisory Council of Alumni, “with power to watch over the requirements for degrees and the state of learning in the college and to offer recommendations to the Board of Trustees, but with no power to pass laws or to interfere with the college funds.” Although his proposal was rejected, McCosh continued to stoke alumni involvement through the establishment and support of alumni associations around the country, which by 1886 numbered at least 17.

Six years after McCosh’s rejected proposal for an Advisory Council of Alumni, the trustees responded to continued alumni demands for representation by electing 28-year-old Moses Taylor Pyne ‘1877 to the board. Like McCosh, Pyne helped establish alumni associations around the country, including the Princeton Club of New York, of which he was one of the first presidents. Among his many other activities as a devoted alumnus (including the co-publication of the first alumni directory and the founding of the Princeton Alumni Weekly), Pyne was one of the creators of the Committee of Fifty, an alumni fundraising organization established in 1904. In 1909, the committee expanded its mission to include the representation of alumni interests and renamed itself the Graduate Council.

In 1920, the Graduate Council reorganized all existing alumni groups, including the 94-year-old Alumni Association of Nassau Hall and the many regional associations, into a central Alumni Association, of which the Graduate Council remained the executive body. After nearly 50 years of existence, the Graduate Council changed its name to the Alumni Council, the name it still uses.

Today, the national Alumni Association, the Alumni Council and the many regional associations and affiliated groups jointly serve over 83,500 graduate and undergraduate alumni of Princeton University. Their activities have expanded – for example, they now offer alumni many educational and travel events around the world – but their missions remain true to that of the 1826 Alumni Association of Nassau Hall.

Source: From the finding aid for AC048

Biography and History

The Alumni Council was formed in 1909 as the Graduate Council to provide leadership for alumni activity. Among the Alumni Council's many services to alumni are home-education courses and lecture programs taught by Princeton faculty.

Source: From the finding aid for AC258

  • Alumni Organization records. 1826-2014 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC048

    The Alumni Association of Nassau Hall, Princeton's first official organization of alumni, was founded on commencement day 1826. The collection consists primarily of administrative materials such as correspondence, meeting minutes, notebooks and reports belonging to both national and regional associations and their committees, most from the first half of the 20th century. Also contains newsletters, alumni directories, scrapbooks, reunion-related ephemera, photographs, and materials documenting reunions and alumni organization activities from the late 19th century forward.

  • Donald Worner Griffin Papers. 1924-1991 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC242

    Donald Worner Griffin was a member of the Princeton class of 1923. Griffin was recognized frequently by University administration as being instrumental in revitalizing alumni ties in the years after World War II, as well as helping shape the modern state of Princeton alumni relations. Consists of the personal correspondence and clippings of Donald Worner Griffin.

  • Alumni Studies Program Records. 1981-2006 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC258

    The Alumni Council was formed in 1909 as the Graduate Council to provide leadership for alumni activity. Consists of recordings -- mostly audiocassettes, compact discs and VHS tapes -- of lecture courses from the Class of 1942 seminars and other Alumni Studies courses, as well as a small amount of printed material to supplement the lectures.

  • Alumni Studies Program Records. 1981-2006 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC258

    The Alumni Council was formed in 1909 as the Graduate Council to provide leadership for alumni activity. Consists of recordings -- mostly audiocassettes, compact discs and VHS tapes -- of lecture courses from the Class of 1942 seminars and other Alumni Studies courses, as well as a small amount of printed material to supplement the lectures.

  • Princetoniana Committee Oral History Project Records. 1994-2015 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC259

    The Princetoniana Committee was formed by the Alumni Council in 1981 with the mission of proactively collecting worthy items of Princetoniana on the University's behalf. The Princetoniana Committee Oral History Project (POHP) Records consist of oral history interview transcripts from two separate oral history projects and related materials.