From William A. Percy
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A letter regarding Timothy Garton Ash's Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World spiked by the NY Review of Books (as pdf)

Princeton Alumni Weekly
194 Nassau Street, Suite #38
Princeton, NJ 08542


Dear Princeton Alumni Weekly,

“In the nation’s service”, Princeton was hardly the first of the Ivies to champion the causes of Seneca, Selma and Stonewall. It’s high time that our Alumni Weekly pick up the story, “Hidden Lives” by Richard Just. The front page “Gay at Princeton”, unfortunately depicts a stereotypical nerdish sad-sack.

Princeton is actually named for the Prince of Orange, who after marrying his first cousin Princess Mary, became co-monarchs with her as William III in 1688. That illustrious general and diplomat, who defeated Louis XIV, was probably a Kinsey 6. Princeton has never acknowledged this, although I wrote to the Alumni Weekly about it some time ago.

How long did P.U. lag in forming a gay student union as Columbia did in ‘67 and Cornell in ’68? And how long did it take its gay alumni association to form? Arguably, the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, which began as its gay alumni newsletter and is now The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, has become the most influential journal for GLBTTTQ studies.

Incidentally, P.U. has not been so great about women or blacks either. When I was an undergraduate, the only female on the faculty was the wife of the professor of chemistry, Madame Turkevich, who taught Russian history. P.U. only admitted Negroes in ’42. Its first African-American PhD, as he claimed, was Bennett Hill (AB ’56, PhD ‘63), but the graduate office claims to this day that there were probably some in the late 50’s.

“I got to know” Bennett in the basement tea room of Firestone during my sophomore year. I saw him again when I returned during my last two years of graduate work from ’60 to ’62, but then we were just “sisters”, ironically both writing theses under Joe Strayer on medieval history. Both of us then admired Professor Martin Duberman’s efforts to save a fellow grad student expelled after he was entrapped by proctors in the tea room on the second floor of Firestone next to the history graduate studies room and summarily expelled.

William A. Percy, AB ’55, AM ’62, PhD ‘64

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