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Collection Overview

Princeton University Society of the Claw.
Society of the Claw Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of records that describe the brief history of the Society of the Claw. Included are minutes, correspondence, annual reports, financial records, membership lists, rules and regulations, certificates and a variety of printed materials. The tiger claws owned by the Archives have been removed to the ephemera collection.


Organized into the following series:

This small collection consists of 17 folders arranged in alphabetical order by form or subject.

Collection Creator Biography:

Princeton University Society of the Claw.

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.

Collection History


The estate of Ulrich Dahlgren, secretary-treasurer of the Society from 1915 to 1920, donated the bulk of these records in 1947 (AM13413). Other records came from L. Irving Reichner (AM10895-AM10920 in 1935 and AM12839 in 1944 ), Edward M. Burton (AM 9249 in 1926 ), and Horace Nixon (AM13037 in 1945 ). Two group photographs listed in the Dahlgren accession could not be located, nor could accessions AM10896, AM10917, and AM 10919 (although a copy of this letter is located in the West Papers in the Graduate College records).

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Ben Primer in 1995. Finding aid written by Ben Primer in 1995.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. If copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with non-commercial use of materials from the Mudd Library. For materials where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Credit this material:

Society of the Claw Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
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Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345