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Postcards for Alumni

Do you know which building on campus was first named for a woman?

Why did the College of New Jersey (ultimately Princeton University) move to Princeton from Newark?

Where was Picasso’s first home for “Head of a Woman,” and when did it move?

You’ll learn the answers to these questions and others when you begin seeing “Postcards to Alumni,” a collection of monthly digital postcards featuring unique facts about Princeton’s history. The postcards are being introduced by the Alumni Council’s Princetoniana and Communications and Technology (CAT) Committees who collaborated on the project. The postcards will be shared monthly with alumni around the globe via numerous digital channels.

“Our work as a committee is not only about collecting and archiving history, memorabilia and traditions but also how to share it and engage alumni,” said Jean Hendry *80, chair of the Princetoniana committee, who is leading this initiative. “We brainstormed projects that would enable us to connect with alumni on a regular basis. At the same time, we didn’t want a project that caused alumni to have to do anything other than feel a connection to the University. ‘Postcards’ seemed to fit the bill.”

To research and collect the facts, Hendry tapped fellow committee member Gregg Lange ’70, who has encyclopedic knowledge of Princeton facts and history, having written PAW’s online history column since September 2006, and having served as narrator of the Reunions’ P-rade from 1993-2018. Not only did Lange identify less well-known facts, he also specifically chose facts that corresponded to the month in which they occurred in Princeton’s history. For example, April’s postcard is about the University breaking ground on the Isabella McCosh Infirmary on April 19, 1892. Topics run the gamut from famous alumni to buildings erected to athletics, and others.

While Princetoniana members are experts in Princeton history and traditions, they leaned on the CAT Committee’s expertise in technology to help design the digital postcards. Credit for the overall postcard design belongs to CAT Committee member Cindy Drakeman ’02 who sourced images, conceived the nostalgic postcard look and “stamp” designs, suggested using “Dispatch” on the postcard to lend a nostalgic feel, and created many of the postcards. Credit goes to Princetoniana committee member Tom Swift ’76 for designing the initial postcard.

“We were so happy when Princetoniana approached us with the postcard idea,” said Michael Lin ’13, vice chair of the CAT committee. “The pandemic brought on an increase and a need for digital communication and initiatives, and this is a great one, much like Orange & Black Day that our committee helped introduce last year. ‘Postcards’ provides yet another opportunity to engage with alumni across the world and share the love of Princeton, while also bringing awareness to the great resource of Princetoniana and its museum.”

“Postcards to Alumni” will be sent to all classes, regional and affinity associations and will appear as a monthly feature in Tiger News and on @PrincetonAlumni social media channels. The postcards will also be archived in the Princetoniana virtual museum.

Curator's note: The project's first postcard was published in the December 2022 issue of Tiger News (Volume 22 NO 4)