Biography and History

The Hedges family produced three Princetonians in two generations: Benjamin van Doren Hedges (1866-1930, Princeton class of 1888) and his sons Benjamin van Doren Hedges (1907-1969, Princeton class of 1930) and Robert W. Hedges (1908-1950, Princeton class of 1931). The elder Benjamin van Doren Hedges was a member of the Philadelphian Society, the Student Conference Committee and Clio Hall while at Princeton, and went on to become a prominent New Jersey physician. While at Princeton, the younger Benjamin van Doren Hedges competed in the 1928 Olymics, was elected class president and chair of the Undergraduate Council, and was president of the Glee Club. Later, he worked extensivly with the national Big Brother movement, becoming National Director and Vice President of the organization. Robert W. Hedges was active in musical performance and acting at Princeton, including with Theatre Intime and Triangle Club, for which he helped write The Tiger Smiles. Credited as R.W. Hedges, he also wrote the musical score for The Golden Dog, which was performed at the opening of McCarter Theater. He later attended Cornell medical school and practiced medicine in New York. See series-level descriptions below for additional biographical information about the individual Hedges.

Benjamin van Doren Hedges '1888 (May 19, 1866 - December 2, 1930) was a prominent New Jersey physician. Hedges, son of Smith E. Hedges (b. 1820) and Ann E. van Doren (b. December 16, 1820), attended the Chester Institute before entering the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). There, he became managing editor of the Nassau Literary Magazine, belonged to Clio Hall, and was chosen to be a Washington's Birthday Orator.

After graduating in 1888, he attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now part of Columbia University) in New York, graduating in 1891. After working briefly at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, he joined his brother Ellis Walton Hedges (Princeton '1880) in family practice in Plainfield, and also worked as attending surgeon at Muhlenberg Hospital.

Benjamin van Doren Hedges was active both professionally and in his community, serving as secretary of the Plainfield Board of Health, then Board of Health president beginning in 1906, and as President of the New Jersey State Sanitary Association. Hedges belonged to a variety of other community and professional organizations including the Union County Medical Society, NJ State Medical Society, NJ State Pediatric Association, Plainfield Board of Education, and the Crescent Ave Presbyterian Church. Hedges was also involved in Princeton alumni organizations, serving as a member of the Graduate Council from 1910-1914, and as a representative of his class from 1914-1923.

Benjamin van Doren Hedges married Adele Cutts Williams in Chicago on June 5, 1906, and had three children: Benjamin van Doren Hedges Jr. (b. June 8, 1907), Robert William Hedges (b. July 30, 1908), and John C. Hedges (b. March 27, 1910).

Benjamin van Doren Hedges Jr. (June 8, 1907 - December 31, 1969) was the eldest son of Benjamin van Doren Hedges '1888. Born in Plainfield, NJ, he attended Plainfield Grammar School and then the Loomis School (now Loomis Chafee) in Windsor, Connecticut. At Loomis, he set records in track and participated in the school's musical clubs.

Upon entering Princeton University in 1926, Hedges majored in Pre-Med and participated in many campus activities, serving as President of the Class of 1930, winning the Junior Orator Prize, and belonging to Clio Hall and the Cap and Gown Club. Benjamin Hedges was also active in both music and athletics, serving as President of the Musical Clubs, singing in Glee Club, and penning the lyrics for the production that opened McCarter Theatre, The Golden Dog. Hedges' athletic accomplishments were even more notable. He captained Princeton's track team, won Second Place in the Eastern Intercollegiate Diving Championship, and while still a student, participated in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, winning the silver medal in the high jump.

After graduation, Hedges joined the Banker's Trust Company, serving as personnel administrator from 1930 to 1947. This employment was interrupted by World War II, during which Hedges served in Navy Intelligence aboard carriers in the Pacific, winning 13 Battle Stars and two Presidential Unit Citations. After the war, he left Banker's Trust to become National Director and Executive Vice President of the National Big Brother Movement. Hedges married Alice Marian Hecht in 1947, and had two children: Benjamin van Doren Hedges III and Ann van Doren Hedges.

Robert William Hedges '31 (July 30, 1908 - November 16, 1950) was a New York-based physician. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, he attended Plainfield Grammar School and the Loomis School (now Loomis Chafee) in Windsor, Connecticut. At Loomis, Hedges was in student council, played football, ran track, and managed the basketball team. After graduating from Loomis, Robert Hedges attended Princeton University, where he participated in track and water polo, and became involved in several musical and theatre groups. These groups included the Glee Club, Theatre Intime, and Triangle Club, for which he wrote the music for McCarter Theater's first show The Golden Dog.

After Princeton, Hedges attended Cornell University Medical College, receiving his MD in 1935. He interned at Roosevelt Hospital from 1935-37, had a residency in Massachusetts, then returned to New York City and entered private practice. Hedges served as an army surgeon with the 9th Evacuation Hospital during WWII. When the war ended, he returned to New York, becoming attending staff at Woman's Hospital, Roosevelt Hospital, New York Hospital, and an instructor at Cornell University Medical College.

John Cutts Hedges h30 (March 27, 1910 - June 19, 1994) was the youngest child of Benjamin van Doren Hedges and Adele Hedges. Like his brothers, Benjamin and Robert, John Hedges was born in Plainfield, NJ and attended the Loomis School (now Loomis Chafee) in Windsor, Connecticut. After the death of his brother, Benjamin van Doren Hedges '30, John Hedges was inducted as an honorary member of the Princeton Class of 1930. During his career, John Hedges was the vice president of Panama Agencies.

Source: From the finding aid for AC370

  • Hedges family papers. 1979-1938 (inclusive), 1925-1931 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC370

    The Hedges family produced three Princetonians in two generations: Benjamin van Doren Hedges (1866-1930, Princeton class of 1888) and his sons Benjamin van Doren Hedges (1907-1969, Princeton class of 1930) and Robert W. Hedges (1908-1950, Princeton class of 1931). This collection contains scrapbooks, to all three Hedges family Princetonians, as well as several other family members, including materials produced at Princeton and elsewhere.

  • Hedges family papers. 1979-1938 (inclusive), 1925-1931 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC370

    The Hedges family produced three Princetonians in two generations: Benjamin van Doren Hedges (1866-1930, Princeton class of 1888) and his sons Benjamin van Doren Hedges (1907-1969, Princeton class of 1930) and Robert W. Hedges (1908-1950, Princeton class of 1931). This collection contains scrapbooks, to all three Hedges family Princetonians, as well as several other family members, including materials produced at Princeton and elsewhere.