The "Nassau nine" of 1863-64. (Photo: Athletics at Princeton: A History, 1901)
Princeton has nearly 150 years of intercollegiate-athletics history, and the games played in the Internet age represent a relatively small slice. By 1901, a pair of Tiger fans, Frank Presbrey, Class of 1879, and James Moffatt, Class of 1900, had compiled enough stories, photos, and box scores to fill a rather hefty book, Athletics at Princeton: A History, which begins with a rundown of important firsts — Princeton’s first baseball game, vs. Williams in 1864; its first football game, vs. Rutgers in 1869; and its first trip to the intercollegiate rowing regatta, at Saratoga, N.Y., in 1874.
In the pages of Wikipedia, however, the Tigers of yesteryear have a somewhat limited footprint. On Oct. 19, 11 volunteer editors began to fill in a few of the gaps, drawing on reference materials at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.
The “edit-a-thon” was the third of its kind hosted by Mudd this year. Q Miceli ’12, a former student employee at Mudd, suggested the idea after attending a Smithsonian-sponsored edit-a-thon in 2011. She organized the first two Princeton events — focused on University history and women at Princeton — and returned as a participant this time.
Christa Cleeton, a special collections assistant at Mudd, said that the edit-a-thons encourage Wikipedia editors to take advantage of the vast range of historical documents that are available to the public. The events also aim to show that a visit to the archives is not as challenging as it may seem, Cleeton said.
Last Friday’s editors included seasoned Wikimedians, librarians from Mudd, and a couple of newcomers. In the span of three hours, they researched the origins of the Tiger mascot (more challenging than it sounds); improved the page devoted to the Princeton Cannon Song (with colorful sheet music in hand); built upon the description of Class of 1952 Stadium; added details to the sparse bio of College Football Hall of Famer Hollie Donan ’51; and compiled a list of Princeton University Olympians — 100 in all, 93 summer and seven winter. (Full disclosure: I was responsible for the last item on that list, a perfect job for a novice.)
Cleeton said that the library plans to host more edit-a-thons and might use future events to highlight Mudd’s public-policy papers.