Biography and History

The Office of the Registrar, comprised of the University Registrar and a supporting staff, is the administrative unit of Princeton University charged with the collection, maintenance, and distribution of the academic records of Princeton's undergraduate student body. The Office of the Registrar is also responsible for the preparation and distribution of diplomas and the imposition and collection of fees relating to student registration. As an ex officio member of the Committee on Examinations and Standing, the University Registrar takes part in deliberations over academic matters pertaining to individual students, and as a member of the Faculty Committee on Schedule, the Registrar oversees the establishment of the University's academic calendar and course schedule.

Like many of the University's administrative offices, the responsibilities of the Registrar have shifted dramatically throughout the position's history. As early as the academic year 1840-1841, a recent graduate of the College was responsible for the collection of certain fees from students. These included the $9.50 seniors were to pay for their diploma and an additional $5 to defray expenses related to Commencement. The first significant mention of the Registrar's duties beyond those related to fee collection can be found in the 1870-1871 edition of the Princeton University Catalogue, which states that "A report of the standing of each student is made at the close of the Term to his parent or guardian by the Registrar of the College."

As enrollment at Princeton swelled, the responsibilities of the Registrar expanded accordingly and by 1897 the registration of students had become a systematic undertaking. That year's catalogue made it clear that "Students must report to the Registrar's Office at the beginning of each term to register. They must give their full name, home address and Princeton address to the Registrar." In that same year the Registrar was charged with coordinating undergraduate admissions by distributing forms to inquiring parties and arranging for necessary entrance examinations. These tasks soon became too large for a single office to oversee, and the establishment of the Office of Admissions in 1923 largely removed the Office of the Registrar from the admissions process. The duties of the Registrar have remained relatively static since that time, with one notable change in 1970, when the Registrar began keeping the academic records of graduate students.

In addition to acting as a liaison between administrators, faculty, and students, the Registrar aids in the compilation of statistical information on the student body. Notably, the Registrar assisted the University's Statistical Unit throughout the early 1960s as the latter organization researched and reported on matters such as undergraduate attrition. The Registrar has also commonly conferred with the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Dean of the College, and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students in carrying out its duties.

Since the institution of the position, the title of University Registrar has changed hands frequently. Prior to Henry Nevius Van Dyke (Class of 1872) who served as Registrar from 1873-1910, no single person had held the office for a period longer than five years. The growth of the University, the formalization of the Registrar's responsibilities, and the increasing importance of the position have demanded a higher level of administrative continuity, and in the twentieth century several University Registrars have served terms lasting over 15 years. Notable among these are Wilbur F. Kerr (1925-1947), Howard W. Stepp (1947-1969), and C. Anthony Broh (1984-1999). In the early days of the position the Registrar was located along with most other administrators in the University Offices building, later renamed Stanhope Hall. In 1911, the Office of the Registrar moved to Nassau Hall, and once again in 1959 to West College.

Source: From the finding aid for AC116

Biography and History

Since its first class of six graduates and one honoree in 1748, Princeton University has awarded over 80,000 diplomas.

Source: From the finding aid for AC138

  • Office of the Registrar Records. 1802-2015 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC116

    The Office of the Registrar is the administrative office of Princeton University responsible for the collection and maintenance of the academic records of the student body, as well as the establishment of course and examination schedules and the collection of fees related to matriculation and registration. The records contain the academic records of individual students, subject files on topics related to admissions and matriculation, statistical reports, and other official documents issued by the Office of the Registrar.

  • Office of the Registrar Records. 1802-2015 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC116

    The Office of the Registrar is the administrative office of Princeton University responsible for the collection and maintenance of the academic records of the student body, as well as the establishment of course and examination schedules and the collection of fees related to matriculation and registration. The records contain the academic records of individual students, subject files on topics related to admissions and matriculation, statistical reports, and other official documents issued by the Office of the Registrar.

  • Princeton University Diploma Collection. 1749-1998 (inclusive), 1749-1926 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC138

    Since its first class of six graduates and one honoree in 1748, Princeton University has awarded over 80,000 diplomas. This collection contains 213 original diplomas and photostats, including executed diplomas as well as blank, sample or spoiled diplomas.

  • Princeton University Diploma Collection. 1749-1998 (inclusive), 1749-1926 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC138

    Since its first class of six graduates and one honoree in 1748, Princeton University has awarded over 80,000 diplomas. This collection contains 213 original diplomas and photostats, including executed diplomas as well as blank, sample or spoiled diplomas.