The collection, managed by Bob Rodgers ’56 and the Alumni Council’s Princetoniana Committee, includes blazers and jackets from nearly 50 classes and the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni. The committee also draws on the personal collection of Kirk Unruh ’70, the University’s recording secretary, to produce an annual exhibit of Reunions costumes in display cases on the 100 level of Frist Campus Center.
This year, John Wriedt ’85, a local architect and Princetoniana fan, is designing the Reunions exhibit. He plans to spotlight some of the collection’s beer jackets, from the days when designs were stenciled on the backs of plain white denim coats. The designs are quite clever, Wriedt says, but “the stories behind the stencil are often very interesting as well.”
Rodgers says that the jacket project, like many efforts to preserve Princeton traditions, has a link to the late Fred Fox ’39, the venerable keeper of Princetoniana and longtime University administrator. Fox’s care for all things Princeton inspired a classmate, Hugh “Bud” Wynne ’39 *40, to start his own collection of jackets. When Wynne died in 2007, his widow, Irene, offered them to the Princetoniana Committee.
The Mudd Manuscript Library did not have the space to store Reunions clothing, so Rodgers and his colleagues went looking for alternatives and found a spot in the University Building Services warehouse, the same place where class banners are housed in the months between P-rades. Patricia Potts and Rich Wilder, who manage the facility, were happy to accommodate the collection, Rodgers said.
This year, Rodgers has been “proactively filling the gaps” in the committee’s holdings, reaching out to class secretaries and presidents of classes from the 1920s through 1950, and he has received a “very upbeat response.”
There are a few reasons to collect the Reunions wear, Rodgers said. In addition to simply preserving pieces of the University’s history, the collection of old designs can provide ideas for future classes. The vertical stripes of the Class of 1933, for instance, were later duplicated by the Class of 1958 and the Class of 1983. While the Princetoniana Committee can’t take credit for that, Rodgers said, it would like to help others who might be inspired by seeing what past reuners wore.