Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

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 (scamudd): 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

Scope and Contents

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).


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

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed 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
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1