Part of the “legend in our own minds” in the Class of 1966 is the belief that we are the first class with a majority of public-school graduates. Recently we heard a member of the Class of 1967 make the same claim.
Recalling consternation among alumni on this topic when we were undergraduates, we wondered if other classes from our era might also claim this distinction. We did some research, finding articles about each class when it was admitted in The Daily Princetonian’s archives and counting schools in our Freshman Herald (’66 did have a public-school majority, but the margin — 100-plus — seemed too large to have occurred in a single year, suggesting we were not the first).
The data we found indicate that the Class of 1962 was most likely “the first class with a majority of public-school graduates.” The Class of 1961 was described in a Prince article as “about 50-50,” with context suggesting preppies had a slim edge, and the same report stated that preppies were “back in the majority” in the Class of 1960, suggesting that ’59 may have tilted slightly to public-schoolers.
It seems clear that the balance shifted firmly with 1962. Prior to 1959 all classes had preppie majorities, generally by wide margins. Every class after 1962 has been majority public-school.
We share this with the alumni as a whole possibly to burst a few bubbles, and to offer any class that wishes to support a different conclusion the opportunity to prepare a rebuttal.
Editor’s note: The staff at Mudd Manuscript Library provided data for the following chart, noting that when foreign-school graduates were considered, the classes of ’59 and ’61 saw “a greater number, though not a majority, of public high school graduates” matriculate and that ’62 was the first class with a public-school majority (50.8 percent).