Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Graduate School
Graduate School Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1870-2015 (mostly 1890-1995)
77 boxes, 6511 digital files, and 1 websites
Storage Note:
Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-77


The Graduate School at Princeton offers masters and doctorate programs in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. The Graduate School Records consist of minutes, correspondence, reports, writings, applications, surveys, and memoranda, as well as forms, course listings, and information on examinations and fees.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The Graduate School Records consist of minutes, correspondence, reports, writings, applications, surveys, and memoranda, as well as forms, course listings, and information on examinations and fees. The Deans' subject files make up a large part of the collection. Dean Andrew Fleming West's records, including his writings, correspondence, and in particular his scrapbooks, make up a substantial portion of this collection as well, as do the digital records of Dean William B. Russel.

Collection Creator Biography:

Princeton University. Graduate School

The earliest form of organized graduate education at Princeton began when President James Carnahan announced the establishment of a Law School in 1846, which awarded its last degree in 1852. Graduate work in a formal sense emerged at Princeton in the 1870s when President James McCosh added new faculty and graduate fellowships. The introduction of graduate work in the sciences came with the opening of the John C. Green School of Science in 1873, offering both masters and doctoral degrees.

Princeton's Graduate School, established officially by the Trustees in late 1900, began its operations in the fall of 1901. The School's first dean, Andrew Fleming West, sought to improve the quality of education by insisting on high entrance and academic standards and by creating what he believed to be the proper residential setting, a Graduate College, where the students would learn from one another. Merwick, located on Bayard Lane and provided by benefactor Moses Taylor Pyne in 1905, served as the first residence for graduate students. It housed twelve to fifteen students and served as a dining facility and center of recreation.

Upon her death in 1906, Josephine Thomson Swann, the first benefactor of the Graduate School, bequeathed $275,000 to Princeton for the construction of a Graduate College in her late husband's name. This money allowed Dean West and President Woodrow Wilson to formulate plans for the Graduate School, but controversy came with the building of the Graduate College, which would replace Merwick as a residence for students. West proposed that the College be remotely located, away from the distractions of undergraduate life, while Wilson favored a site near Prospect House. William Cooper Procter, Class of 1883, who contributed funds for what would become Procter Hall, strongly campaigned for the site near the golf links. He offered $500,000 toward the Graduate College, but found Wilson's choice for the site unsuitable and made his offer conditional "upon further understanding that some other site be chosen, which shall be satisfactory to me." Wilson refused to accept a gift upon such terms, and held tightly to his belief that West could not succeed in his plan to locate the Graduate College at the golf links, away from the "existing life of the University." Although Wilson had the support of the faculty and a majority of the trustees, Procter still insisted on his conditions.

After weighing the options, Howard Crosby Butler, the first Master-in-Residence of the Graduate College, agreed with West that a Graduate College apart from the undergraduates was wise based on his "practical experience with the group of graduate students at Merwick." Isaac Chauncey Wyman, Class of 1848, who came to side with Dean West and William Cooper Procter, left the bulk of his estate, initially estimated at two million dollars, to the Graduate College, and it was this that ultimately settled the question of its location. In his report to the trustees, Wilson finally accepted West's plan for the location and acceded to Procter's conditions. Once the site controversy was settled, architect Ralph Adams Cram, the "high priest" of American Collegiate Gothic, designed the College as a complex consisting of a quadrangle, the Pyne Memorial Tower for the residence of the Master of the College, and the great hall, Procter Hall, which became known for its stained glass windows, carved timber ceiling, and pipe organ. A "collegiate" lifestyle developed at the Graduate College, with recreation, lectures, and meals together in Procter Hall. The Graduate College provided graduate students with a communal life outside of the classrooms and laboratories.

World War I radically changed the character of the nascent Graduate School as students left for war service, and the Graduate College was leased to the military for training naval officers. Until 1922, the Graduate School had limited its enrollment to 200 degree candidates. Several departments, such as history, English, and chemistry, felt increased pressure to admit students beyond the 1922 quotas. By 1932, under Dean Augustus Trowbridge (1928-1933), enrollment was raised to 250, but it was not until the administration of Dean Hugh Stott Taylor (1945-1958), that the upper limit was finally removed. With increased research funds in math and sciences came assistantships for students. By World War II, Dean Luther Eisenhart (1933-1945), who had come on board during the Depression, had given the Graduate School a new sense of mission and increased claim to excellence. He changed doctoral regulations, redefined master's degrees, and created scholarships.

As World War II wound down and enrollment began strongly increasing again, the Graduate School faced a housing crisis, especially for married students. Married veterans and their families moved into what were at one time army barracks, the Butler Apartments, on Harrison Street. The shape of graduate education in the postwar years became a major interest, and Dean Taylor oversaw the postwar expansion of the Graduate School. He added new doctoral programs and brought alumni more fully into the University family through the creation of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni. The establishment of the Forrestal Campus in 1951, which included the Plasma Physics Laboratory and a particle accelerator, helped cement Princeton's reputation as a world-class institution in the study of physics

Under Dean Donald Hamilton (1958-1965), the enrollment of the Graduate School continued to increase steadily. The fellowship budget grew, as did the number of interdisciplinary programs. Princeton admitted its first woman graduate student as a special case in 1961, and in 1968 the Graduate School's doors were officially opened to women. Throughout the 1960s, the recruitment of minorities, especially African Americans, grew. Toward the end of the 1960s, with the global political climate changing, Princeton, like other graduate schools, felt increasing pressure to admit more students from other nations.

After weathering Vietnam War protests in the 1970s, the Graduate School faced further problems with funding, particularly in the humanities. Budget cuts served to reshape the Graduate School's demography, financing, programs, and morale through to the early 1990s. Steady growth throughout the latter part of the decade, however, can be attributed to doctoral students remaining enrolled in extended programs in order to conduct sophisticated research, acquire foreign languages and study in foreign countries, among other things. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Graduate School saw more specialties in academic departments and the establishment of focused research institutes and centers, as well as a strong exchange program with peer institutions.

Collection History


Most of these records have been transferred to the Archives from the Dean of the Graduate School since 1970. Portions of Series 7 have been part of the Library's manuscript collections for some time.


Appraisal was conducted in accordance with University Archives procedures.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Tom Rosko and Ben Primer in 1997. Additional materials processed by Pete Asch in 2008. Finding aid written by Tom Rosko, Ben Primer in 1997. Boxes 59-61 (AR.1998.065) added in January 2011 by Christie Peterson with assistance from Suchi Mandavilli. 2017 accession including boxes 72-74 processed by Annalise Berdini in 2018. Arthur Bigelow Papers found in stacks and added by Phoebe Nobles in November 2018. Finding aid updated by Phoebe Nobles in 2018.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Materials older than 30 years that do not pertain to student academic performance or discipline, trustee issues, or faculty personnel matters are open. Subseries 8C and Subseries 8E contain faculty or student records that are restricted for 75 years from date of creation. See Subseries 8C and 8E access restriction notes for details.

Conditions Governing 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.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials acquired from an Apple iMac desktop computer running OS X 10.9 ("Mavericks"). Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.

Credit this material:

Graduate School 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 1-77

Find More

Related Materials

The Princeton Graduate School: A History by Willard Thorp, Minor Myers, Jr., and Jeremiah Stanton Finch. With a new chapter by James L. Axtell. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Other Finding Aids

Full text searching of the Graduate School archived website is available through the Archive-It interface.

Subject Terms:
College administrators.
Genre Terms:
Born digital.
Web sites.
Princeton University.
Princeton University. Graduate College
Princeton University. Graduate School