Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Undergraduate Admission Office.
Admission Office Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1854-2017 (mostly 1922-1998)
42 boxes, 2 items, and 1 websites
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-42


The Admission Office has determined who should be allowed to enroll as undergraduates at Princeton University since 1922. The actual composition and the desired composition of each class have been contentious campus issues since the introduction of selective admission. The debates over the value of recruiting and admitting alumni sons, war veterans, athletes, disadvantaged students (especially racial minorities), and women are reflected in the records of the Admission Office. This collection includes a number of reports and minutes, some of which are restricted, news clippings and releases about Princeton admission, historical materials, and a series of Admission Office publications.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of a documentary record of Princeton University admission policy divided into chronological timeframes and includes material such as entrance exams and requirements, press releases, admission booklets, pamphlets, reports, sample correspondence and statistics. Series 5, Confidential Reports and Minutes (Redacted), 1931-1969, consists of reports and minutes that were selected and photocopied from Series 6. The names of applicants contained in this material have been blacked out to protect their privacy. Series 7 consists of a slideshow that documents the office's efforts to recruit minority students.

Collection Creator Biography:

Princeton University. Undergraduate Admission Office.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, admission decisions were based primarily on an oral examination given at Princeton. The president made the final admission decisions and sometimes administered the exam himself. Written examinations gradually replaced oral examinations, and after 1888, they could be taken at a number of locations throughout the country.

A flood of applicants after the First World War forced the University to limit enrollment and institute a selective admission policy. The trustees decided to create the Admission Office in 1922 and charged it to apply the new admission policies. Until that year, students who passed the exams--proving competency in classical languages, mathematics, and other core subjects--were admitted automatically. From the establishment of the office until 1950, director Radcliffe Heermance shaped modern admission procedures (such as mailed applications, consideration of standardized assessment scores, and alumni interviews) and established lasting relationships between the Admission Office and secondary schools, alumni, and the faculty admission committee. Since 1950, Admission Office directors have overseen the recruitment of disadvantaged and minority students (since the mid-1960s), the introduction of women into the applicant pool (in 1969), and the soaring application rates of the late twentieth century.

Collection History


Portions of this collection, specifically Series 6 and Series 8, were transferred to the University Archives from the Admission Office. Series 7 was donated by Alexander W. Wellford in 2008.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Matthew Reeder in December 2002. Finding aid written by Matthew Reeder in December 2002.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Series 1 through 4, 7 and 9 are open for research. Series 6, Confidential Reports and Minutes, contains the names of students, faculty, and staff. These documents are closed for the lifetimes of the individuals to whom they relate. A redacted version of Series 6 (Series 5) is open; however researchers must sign a consent agreement to view these materials. The materials in Series 8 and 10 are closed for 30 years from the date of their creation.

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:

Admission Office 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 1-42

Find More

Related Materials

See the Registrar's Grade Books Collection, AC116, for President's Admission Books covering admitted students from 1872 to 1890.

Other Finding Aids

Full text searching of this collection's archived website is available through the Archive-It interface.

Subject Terms:
Universities and colleges -- United States -- Admission.
Genre Terms:
Press releases.
Slides (photographs).
Web sites.
Princeton University
Princeton University Administration.