Biography and History

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, admission decisions were based primarily on an oral examination given at Princeton. The president made the final admission decisions and sometimes administered the exam himself. Written examinations gradually replaced oral examinations, and after 1888, they could be taken at a number of locations throughout the country.

A flood of applicants after the First World War forced the University to limit enrollment and institute a selective admission policy. The trustees decided to create the Admission Office in 1922 and charged it to apply the new admission policies. Until that year, students who passed the exams-proving competency in classical languages, mathematics, and other core subjects-were admitted automatically. From the establishment of the office until 1950, director Radcliffe Heermance shaped modern admission procedures (such as mailed applications, consideration of standardized assessment scores, and alumni interviews) and established lasting relationships between the Admission Office and secondary schools, alumni, and the faculty admission committee. Since 1950, Admission Office directors have overseen the recruitment of disadvantaged and minority students (since the mid-1960s), the introduction of women into the applicant pool (in 1969), and the soaring application rates of the late twentieth century.

Source: From the finding aid for AC152

Biography and History

Princeton: A Search for Answers is a 1973 recruiting film produced for the Princeton University Undergraduate Admissions Office by Julian Krainin and DeWitt Sage. The half-hour informational video won an Academy Award the year of its release for Short Subject Documentary, and was primarily shown to alumni and potential applicants.

Source: From the finding aid for AC284

  • Admission Office Records. 1854-2005 (inclusive), 1922-1998 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC152

    The Admission Office has determined who should be allowed to enroll as undergraduates at Princeton University since 1922. The actual composition and the desired composition of each class have been contentious campus issues since the introduction of selective admission. The debates over the value of recruiting and admitting alumni sons, war veterans, athletes, disadvantaged students (especially racial minorities), and women are reflected in the records of the Admission Office. This collection includes a number of reports and minutes, some of which are restricted, news clippings and releases about Princeton admission, historical materials, and a series of Admission Office publications.

  • Princeton: A Search For Answers outtakes collection. 1973-1974 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC284

    Princeton: A Search for Answers is a 1973 recruiting film produced for the Princeton University Undergraduate Admissions Office by Julian Krainin and DeWitt Sage. The collection consists of outtakes and film trims created during the editing process for Princeton: A Search for Answers, as well as a small number of documents related to the making of the film.