Mudd Library showcases history of Princeton through “Princeton 275” exhibition

Rosalba Varallo Recchia  and April C. Armstrong *14 curated the Mudd Library exhibition ‘Princeton 275.’

Rosalba Varallo Recchia and April C. Armstrong *14 curated the Mudd Library exhibition ‘Princeton 275.’

Do you remember using floppy disks? What about the opening of the School of Science’s physics lab? Chances are you weren’t around for the sesquicentennial celebration. 

The “Princeton 275” exhibition explores and reflects on all of these aspects and more from the University’s history. Currently on display at Mudd Manuscript Library and open to the university community and members of the public, the exhibition features pieces dating back to the 1746 Charter of the College of New Jersey.

Spanning approximately 50 items, the exhibit tells the stories that define Princeton’s academic and cultural history, like the earliest  African American students known to have been admitted during peacetime (predating the often-recognized WWII naval admits), or the growth and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community on Princeton’s campus.

First conceptualized in the fall of 2019 as staff prepared for the first-ever major renovation to Mudd Library since opening in 1976, progress on “Princeton 275” was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The exhibitions curators — Special Collections Assistants  April C. Armstrong *14 and Rosalba Varallo Recchia, and student assistant Iliyah Coles ’22 — were initially limited to exploring Mudd’s vast collections digitally and off of memory to piece together the exhibition’s foundation.

Officially opening in May of 2022, “Princeton 275” is the first University-centric exhibition at Mudd since 2018, when staff curated an exhibit to highlight the contributions, stories, and achievements of women at Princeton to mark the 50th year of undergraduate coeducation.

April C. Armstrong *14 shows staff an example of a cane students would carry in the 1800s

“Princeton 275” is the first exhibition in Mudd following the renovations, and includes new exhibition cases that provide more opportunities to showcase three-dimensional objects. One such item to benefit from the new cases, was the scale model of the Graduate College that Varallo Recchia located in the archives , which sits in a case with pieces reflecting on the establishment of the physics lab and the sesquicentennial celebration in 1896.

During the staff preview event in June, the curators also organized a selection of items visitors could interact with. Among them were the canes Princetonians used to carry with them, a mortarboard, and even a tiger themed mini-skirt from 1968’s Triangle Show. Also accompanying the exhibit are a series of blog posts exploring some of the exhibition items.

Published on July 25, 2022

Written by: Brandon Johnson, Communications Specialist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications