Biography and History

The Society of the Claw resulted from a meeting of the Class of 1894 held on January 13, 1912. The class claimed to be the first to establish the practice of holding an annual reunion which for many years occurred at 19 University Place. In order to join the Society as an active member, men of the class had to make a lifetime or a five-year, renewable pledge to attend reunions on an annual basis. No dues or assessments were required of Society members and most funds for its support came from a few wealthy members of the class. The Society's rules also provided for the election of honorary members. Soon there were 164 active and 26 honorary members of the Society. The Society met annually in the Faculty Room of Nassau Hall, and all members of the class, including those not members of the Society, could attend. This was not designed to be a secret society.

Each member received a handsome numbered certificate with a seal. In addition, the Society provided each member with a charm for his watch chain to serve as a reminder of the pledge he had made. These charms consisted of a genuine tiger claw (the Society obtained one thousand with the help of Princeton missionaries in India) which was attached to a gold (for honorary members) or silver (for active members) mount topped by the number 94 (for the class) engraved with the Society's name and the member's name and number. The Philadelphia jeweler Van Deusen and Stokes produced these charms.

The class planned that the Society would continue in perpetuity, providing that members of other classes could be elected upon a two-thirds vote of the active members. By the early 1920s, however, the Society seems to have become moribund.

The most significant contribution of the Society to Princeton tradition was its proposal and funding of the bronze stars place on the stone windowsills of university dormitories in 1920 in memory of war dead from World War I. Society member L. Irving Reichner suggested the idea, and in the space of several months the Society raised $460 to make, engrave and mount the stars.

Source: From the finding aid for AC036

  • Society of the Claw Records. 1912-1940 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC036

    The Society of the Claw Records describe the brief history of an organization created by the Class of 1894. Society members pledged to attend Princeton reunions annually, either for five-year periods or during their lifetimes. Members received a charm for their watch chains which included a genuine tiger claw to remind them of their pledge. The Society's principal long-term accomplishment was the proposal and subscription of the bronze stars placed on university dormitories in memory of World War I war dead.

  • Society of the Claw Records. 1912-1940 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC036

    The Society of the Claw Records describe the brief history of an organization created by the Class of 1894. Society members pledged to attend Princeton reunions annually, either for five-year periods or during their lifetimes. Members received a charm for their watch chains which included a genuine tiger claw to remind them of their pledge. The Society's principal long-term accomplishment was the proposal and subscription of the bronze stars placed on university dormitories in memory of World War I war dead.