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Collection Description & Creator Information
Princeton held its first commencement in the Newark, New Jersey "meetinghouse." After The College of New Jersey moved to Princeton in 1756, commencement services were held in Nassau Hall until 1764, when they were moved to the First Presbyterian Church. In 1892, commencement moved to Alexander Hall and in 1922 moved a final time to the front of Nassau Hall, where commencement is still held outdoors. In the event of rain, commencement is moved to Jadwin Gymnasium. Observed in the fall until 1843, the celebration was moved to the spring in 1844.
Commencement activities continue for nearly a week, beginning with alumni returning to campus for alumni/faculty forums on the Thursday afternoon before commencement. Saturday afternoon the annual alumni P-Rade occurs, as well as class reunions usually held outdoors under tents. On Sunday, students and their families attend a baccalaureate service in the morning, the president's garden party in the afternoon and a concert in the evening. Monday is devoted to Class Day exercises, departmental receptions and a senior dance. Formal commencement exercises occur on Tuesday. An academic procession to Nassau Hall begins the festivities, followed by an invocation, the conferring of bachelor degrees, recognition of honors graduates, the valedictory speech, the conferring of master, doctor and honorary degrees, remarks by the president, and the singing of "Old Nassau."
(Source: A Princeton Companion, by Alexander Leitch)
The collection consists of programs, bulletins, announcements, and newspaper clippings which document Princeton University commencement activities from 1748 to the present. Generally, files are arranged chronologically by year. In addition, separate series contain bound programs, electrical broadcast transcriptions, bound commencement notices, oversize material, and audio recording of various commencement, class day, and baccalaureate activities. Ashbel Green's valedictory address, one of the earliest, is included in the collection, as well as Alexander Leitch's notebook containing research material about commencement collected for his book "A Princeton Companion."
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No appraisal information is available.
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:
2021; Princeton University Commencement Records, AC115, Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript LibrarySeeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345