I am writing this note a few weeks before Alumni Day; you probably are reading it a few weeks after the gathering took place. This particular celebration marked the centennial of the event, which first was held on Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, 1915. With that in mind, PAW has a few historical offerings of its own: the pullout at the center of this magazine showing a century of change on campus, a collection of some of the earliest images ever taken of Nassau Hall (page 26), and a timeline of Alumni Day highlights at PAW Online, paw.princeton.edu.
Princeton’s first official Alumni Day fell on a Friday. Some planners wanted to hold it a bit later, on Washington’s birthday, because of an informal tradition of alumni visiting campus then. But President John Grier Hibben 1882 was going to be out of town that day. A photo taken on the steps of Nassau Hall and published on the cover of the Feb. 17, 1915, issue of PAW shows the attendees: about 70 men, most in dark overcoats and hats and with stern expressions. No Reunions costumes for them!
Those attending were invited to hear lectures and attend classes, tour new labs, take in a “smoker” at the Nassau Club, and enjoy a luncheon in the “Great Hall” of the new Graduate College. The cost of lunch: $1. PAW called it an “intellectual pilgrimage,” designed to provide “interested alumni an opportunity to know just what the University is accomplishing under normal conditions.”
Just as that day (and Alumni Day celebrations since) aimed to offer alumni a combination of old and new, so does PAW — in this issue and every other.