- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Princeton University. Alumni Association.
- Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
- Alumni Association Records
- Princeton University Archives
- Permanent URL:
- 45 boxes and 1 folder
- Storage Note:
Mudd Library collections are unavailable until further notice due to a renovation. See our webpage for the most current information.
The Alumni Association of Nassau Hall, Princeton's first official organization of alumni, was founded on commencement day 1826. The collection consists primarily of administrative materials such as correspondence, meeting minutes, notebooks and reports belonging to both national and regional associations and their committees, most from the first half of the 20th century. Also contains newsletters, alumni directories, scrapbooks, reunion-related ephemera, photographs, and materials documenting reunions and alumni organization activities from the late 19th century forward.
Collection Description & Creator Information
Consists primarily of administrative materials such as correspondence, meeting minutes, notebooks and reports belonging to both national and regional associations and their committees, most from the first half of the 20th century. Also contains newsletters, alumni directories, scrapbooks, photographs, and materials documenting reunions and alumni organization activities from the late 19th century forward. The earliest items in the collection are a cash book for the Alumni Association of Nassau Hall from 1835, which lists a donation by James Madison in the amount of $20, and a minute book for the same organization, kept by John Maclean from 1826 to 1878. Also notable in the collection are the memoirs of Donald Griffin '26, who served on the alumni council for 30 years.
The Alumni Organization Records have been loosely organized into two primary series according to whether they pertain to the national Alumni Association or to one of the regional associations under its auspices. Within each series, no arrangement has been imposed; the papers remain largely in their original order. Accruals will be added to the end of the first two primary series.
- Collection Creator Biography:
The Alumni Association of Nassau Hall, the school's first official organization of alumni, was founded on commencement day 1826 under the guidance of then-Professor John Maclean. From the start, the new organization had the express purpose of "promot[ing] the interests of the college and the friendly intercourse of its graduates" and the understood purpose of coordinating efforts to raise funds for the school. As the 19th century progressed, President Maclean and his successor President McCosh came to rely heavily on alumni for financial support of the college's growth and likewise, the alumni demanded active participation in the management of the school's affairs. This growth in alumni influence has been cited as a major reason that the Presbyterian Church lost control over the college.
In 1878, in response to agitation from younger alumni for the appointment of a recent graduate to the Board of Trustees, President McCosh proposed the establishment of an Advisory Council of Alumni, "with power to watch over the requirements for degrees and the state of learning in the college and to offer recommendations to the Board of Trustees, but with no power to pass laws or to interfere with the college funds." Although his proposal was rejected, McCosh continued to stoke alumni involvement through the establishment and support of alumni associations around the country, which by 1886 numbered at least 17.
Six years after McCosh's rejected proposal for an Advisory Council of Alumni, the trustees responded to continued alumni demands for representation by electing 28-year-old Moses Taylor Pyne '1877 to the board. Like McCosh, Pyne helped establish alumni associations around the country, including the Princeton Club of New York, of which he was one of the first presidents. Among his many other activities as a devoted alumnus (including the co-publication of the first alumni directory and the founding of the Princeton Alumni Weekly), Pyne was one of the creators of the Committee of Fifty, an alumni fundraising organization established in 1904. In 1909, the committee expanded its mission to include the representation of alumni interests and renamed itself the Graduate Council.
In 1920, the Graduate Council reorganized all existing alumni groups, including the 94-year-old Alumni Association of Nassau Hall and the many regional associations, into a central Alumni Association, of which the Graduate Council remained the executive body. After nearly 50 years of existence, the Graduate Council changed its name to the Alumni Council, the name it still uses.
Today, the national Alumni Association, the Alumni Council and the many regional associations and affiliated groups jointly serve over 83,500 graduate and undergraduate alumni of Princeton University. Their activities have expanded – for example, they now offer alumni many educational and travel events around the world – but their missions remain true to that of the 1826 Alumni Association of Nassau Hall.
The materials in this collection have been transferred from the national Alumni Association based on the Princeton campus, as well as regional alumni associations.
Additional accruals of records are expected from the Alumni Association on a periodic basis.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No information on appraisal is available.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Christie Peterson with assistance from Eleanor Wright '14 in November-December 2010. Substantial portions of the finding aid were written by Christie Peterson in January 2011. Finding aid updated in 2014 and 2016 by Lynn Durgin.
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.
- Special Requirements for Access:
This collection contains records created and used on computing devices. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.
- Credit this material:
Alumni Association Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript LibrarySeeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Publication Note:
The following materials were consulted during the preparation of the history section: Leitch, Alexander. A Princeton Companion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Princeton 1746-1896. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1946. The Alumni Association of Princeton University website.
- Subject Terms:
- Class reunions -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Universities and colleges -- Alumni and alumnae -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
- Genre Terms:
- Born digital.
- Alumni Association of Nassau-Hall (College of New Jersey)
Princeton Club of New York