Skip to Main Content

Princetoniana Collection: Student Life

A guide to the Princetoniana Collection; a set of books, periodicals, and other printed sources pertaining to Princeton University history at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.

Category Description

The student life category contains P Collection items which pertain to the experiences of undergraduate students at Princeton University. As many of the University's official publications such as the Catalogue are targeted towards and printed for the benefit of students, this category is quite large.

Collection Items

Commencement Programs
1748, 1948-2008

The Commencement Programs are documents distributed each year to participants and guests at the annual commencement of Princeton University. They serve to outline the commencement program and include lists of degree recipients (undergraduate, graduate, and honorary) as well as a list of speakers, lyrics to songs sung at the ceremony, and prizes awarded. The commencement programs lack the text of any speech given at commencement, however in later years they include the full citations which accompany the awarding of honorary degrees. Duplicate copies of the Commencement Programs and supporting materials can be found in the Commencement Records.

Official Register
Call no. P11.73

The Official Register is a compiled volume which, in most years, contains the Catalogue, the Undergraduate Announcement, the Graduate Announcement, Annual Reports of the President and Treasurer, separate announcements for each department and school, a general descriptive booklet, and Freshman Entrance Examination papers. Several of these sections, such as the Catalogue and the Undergraduate Announcement and Graduate Announcement are available separately.

Undergraduate Announcement
Call no. P11.737.7

The Undergraduate Announcement is an annual publication which serves to inform the undergraduate student body, including prospective undergraduates, of the terms of admission, the system of undergraduate study, the requirements for graduation, and the expenses associated with student life such as tuition and room rental. The Announcement is very similar in its content to portions of the Undergraduate Catalog and the General Catalogue.

Undergraduate Catalog
Call no. P13.73

The Catalogue is an annual volume which contains chapters describing the University administration, departments and courses, terms of admission, rules and regulations, and other information relevant to student life. It also contains a directory listing of officers and students of the University. With the exception of the directory most of this information is replicated in the Undergraduate Announcement, however in general the Catalogue is more expansive and contains several sections which the Announcement does not.

Telephone Directories, Guide Books, etc.
P14.73.5 to P15.738

Several different titles/types of telephone directories and guidebooks exist. The Centrex Telephone Directory (P14.73.2) starts in August 1964 and continues to present, switching in title to the “Campus Telephone Directory” in 1982-83. Centrex is preceded by several other issuances which sometimes overlap, such as the Princeton University Directory (P14.75), the Bureau of Student Aid Student Telephone Directory (P14.76), and the List of the Members of Princeton University (P14.922)

This section also contains various Guide Books (P15.735.5 to P15.85) ranging in date from the 1900s to the 1940s. Some are more utilitarian in nature and serve a function similar to the directories, while others such as Princeton Handbook are formatted like mini Bric-A-Bracs/Catalogues and contain pictures. Copies of the Freshman Handbook can be found in boxes and are very small in size.

Academic Honors and Regulations
Call Nos. P45.7377 to P49.316

This very small group of books and pamphlets is related to academic requirements, grading, and academic awards. One important item here is Academic Honors at Princeton University (P47.975), an exhaustively book which breaks down the honors given in that time, and lists recipients by year. Several pamphlets pertaining to the Honor System can also be found here.

Student Life and Customs
P68.502 to P71.66

This is a set of books, pamphlets, and other ephemera which is produced by or aimed towards the students of Princeton, primarily in the early years of the 20th century. Roughly half of the works (P68.502 to P68.896) pertain to the Graduate School and related topics. Included are notices of the opening of the Graduate College, pamphlets on the Quad system, and other bulletins released by the Committee on the Graduate School. The other materials here are more focused on undergraduate life, and include works such as B.H. Hall’s 1851 College Words and Customs (P70.427), possibly the first written etymology of the term “campus.” Also in this section is The Dink, a 1930s freshman newspaper, and its mid 19th century predecessor Memorabilia Sophomorum. Other items of interest include A Gem from Nassau’s Casket, an 1840s student literary publication, and The Log, newsletter of the NROTC program.

1875-1944; 1946-2008

The Bric-a-Brac is a yearbook published annually by the junior class of Princeton University. The Bric-a-Brac's focus is on student life, particularly on student participation in clubs and organizations. It is one of the most useful resources for determining membership in eating clubs or athletic teams, as well as for tracing the development of various student organizations. In select years entries for the athletic teams and larger clubs such as Triangle feature a yearly summary of activities including game or production schedules. Starting in 1899, the Bric-a-Brac also contains photographs, typically consisting of a group shot for each club and game shots for athletic teams.

Nassau Lit

The Nassau Lit is a literary magazine published by the students of Princeton University which contains short stories, essays, poetry, prose, and other written contributions. It was first published in 1842 as the Nassau Monthly, and then changed to the Nassau Literary Magazine in 1847, eventually adopting its current title in 1930. The Nassau Lit is particularly notable as a source of early works from some of Princeton's most famous literary alumni, including Booth Tarkington '1893 and F. Scott Fitzgerald '17.

An index of the first 100 years of the magazine is available:

Issues of the Nassau Monthly are on microfilm.


The Nassau Rake

The Nassau Rake was an annual publication of the sophomore class which was equal parts yearbook and literary magazine. It is something of a predecessor to Tiger in that the contents are generally lighthearted and often poke fun at classmates, faculty (the June 1860 issue is dedicated to Professor Henry C. Cameron, a dedication which is accompanied by a sketch of an ass), and affirm class pride at the expense of “bootlick” freshmen and “loathsome” juniors.

The Princeton Pictorial

The Princeton Pictorial was a bimonthly publication of the students of Princeton which was intended to “give a complete pictorial record of Princeton’s life and growth.” The numerous black and white photographs (mostly submitted by students) were supplemented by brief descriptive articles and editorials. Athletics is a particularly common subject but faculty and student activities are also included.

The Daily Princetonian
Post-1885 issues of the Daily Princetonian on microfilm.

These are the early bound issues of the Daily Princetonian, generally encompassing the period when the paper was only issued once every two weeks. Bound and in fragile condition, the paper is digest sized and bound, as opposed to the larger newsprint edition with which modern students are familiar. Notably, these early issues also include the contributions of Woodrow Wilson 1879, who was one of the paper’s first editors. Topics covered in the early Princetonian are analogous to those which continue to dominate the pages: sports, campus events, and student life. Absent however from this early publication are the associated press dispatches and world news articles which the Princetonian began to feature in 1910.

The Tiger

ed sporadically in 1882 and then regularly after 1890, The Princeton Tiger is the nation's second oldest college humor magazine. Published 6 times a year, the student-run publication offers a satirical look at campus life. Past contributors to the magazine have included many prominent alumni such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and cartoonists Whitney Darrow, Jr. and Henry Martin, both of whom went on to be regularly featured in the New Yorker.

Societies and Fraternities
P71.752 to P76.993

This section contains works related to societies and fraternities which have existed (or in some cases which still exist) at the University. Typical works include Beam’s history of the American Whig Society, and the Proceedings and Addresses of the Cliosophic Society. Some lesser known clubs are also represented in works such as The Book of the Tuesday Evening Club. There are also several items of an unrelated nature, such as “Prayers of the Princeton University Chapel” and “Constitution of the University Dining Halls.” Also prominent in this section are the yearbooks and quarterly magazine of the Chi Phi fraternity, which had a chapter at Princeton in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

P78.68 to P781.737

A modest selection of books and pamphlets regarding athletics at Princeton, including the intercollegiate athletic calendar (1899-1908) and several football programs, including the 1893 thanksgiving football game. Also in this section are the constitution and by-laws of the Athletic Association as well as several pamphlets which deal with highly specific topics such as the use of athletic insignia, and the University’s policy regarding athletic injuries.

Nassau Herald
1869-1944; 1946-1947; 1949-2008

The Nassau Herald is the annually published yearbook of the senior class of Princeton University. The earliest Nassau Heralds take on a form similar to that of a magazine, and contain orations composed by members of the class (often humorous) which trace that class’s four years at Prineton. Also included in these early Heralds are lists of prizewinners. By 1890 the Herald has been expanded to include a statistical survey of the class covering such topics as place of origin, political party, and nickname. By 1915 the Nassau Herald has taken on the more modern style of a separate entry for each member of the class, accompanied by a portrait and a brief summary of that student's activities and accomplishments at Princeton. As graduating classes increase in size, the length of the entries diminishes and in the latter portion of the 20th century they alternate between simply a name and a photograph; and a name, photograph, and short list of activities with a quote or message provided by the graduate.

The Freshman Herald
Class of 1926 (1922) -Present

The Freshman Herald is a yearbook of the incoming freshman class published starting in 1926. Entries for students are brief and generally consist of a photograph, high school/prep school attended, hometown, and birthday. The Freshman Herald is a particularly valuable resource for locating information and especially photographs of students who only attended Princeton for a brief period of time and did not graduate.

Princeton Alumni Weekly

Founded in 1900, the Princeton Alumni Weekly (often simply referred to as PAW) is a magazine published and printed by Princeton University Press. Issued weekly until 1977 and biweekly thereafter, PAW is targeted to alumni and other members of the Princeton University community, and contains articles about current campus events as well as feature articles of a more general nature (but always related to Princeton and its alumni). PAW also contains two long-running features: The "Class Notes" section, in which alumni are encouraged to submit brief updates on their lives; and the "Memorials" section, in which an obituary is printed for any Princeton alumni that have passed on. Both of these sections are valuable resources when compiling genealogical data on alumni.


The Princeton Alumni Weekly Memorial Index, 1894-2011 provides obituaries of alumni, faculty, and honorary class members from 1894, April to 2011, July. 

Digitized issues from 2006-present are available to view on the Princeton Alumni Weekly website. 

Reunion Books/Class Histories
P82.835 - P82.994
Class of 1835 (1888) to Present

Reunion Books and Class Histories are a Princeton phenomenon born of the longstanding tradition of Princeton class reunions. Beginning in the late 19th century, Princeton alumni classes began assembling and publishing yearbooks for the purpose of keeping members abreast of the activities of their classmates post-graduation. Most commonly issued at the 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, 25 year, and 50 year anniversaries of graduation, reunion books are a valuable source of biographical information on individual alums. Though the level of participation in the reunion book is dependant on the alum, photographs, biographical and professional information, and addresses can all be found in the reunion books.

Princeton Weekly Bulletin
P29.737.12, Oversize P11.73.2f

The Princeton Weekly Bulletin is a weekly events listing for the Princeton campus. Included are details on upcoming lectures and speaking engagements, weekly chapel services, and other happenings. Modern issues of the PWB adopt a more expanded format which features color photographs and which is somewhat more narrowly directed towards University staff.