Ricardo Barros

Ricardo Barros
Princeton University Archives

What: Sentimental Tigers couldn’t quite bring themselves to destroy their beloved Bulletin Elm, hub of the 19th-century campus. They allowed it to stand as a sacred if unsightly relic for five years after it died. The “ancient landmark” finally was felled in May 1888 at the very end of the tenure of tree-loving President McCosh.

Pieces such as those pictured above were preserved, including a paperweight that sat on the desk of Dean James Murray in Nassau Hall. While the tree still lived, its leaves occasionally got pressed into scrapbooks. 

For generations, all paths converged at the Bulletin Elm, which spread huge limbs between East College dormitory and the “Old Chapel,” inset, where ­services were mandatory and there was much milling about. Broadsides ­advertised “Rooms for Sale,” urged participation on teams, and challenged rival classes to Cane Sprees: social media with a thumbtack. 

Everyone grieved at the death of the tree, “once the pride of our campus.” A janitor was moved to attempt poetry; here it is, as rendered in The Prince:

On the ground they threw me down
And said I was so rotton
But parts of me will still remain
When I am quite forgotin

Where: Collections AC026 and AC053, Mudd Manuscript Library