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Editorial: Offering historical tours

The Continental Army fired cannonballs at Nassau Hall during the Battle of Princeton, and Albert Einstein taught in what is now the Frist Campus Center. These moments in Princeton history figure prominently in the typical Orange Key campus tour attended by many undergraduates when they were prospective students. Less well-known is that the world’s first telegraph line was set up between Joseph Henry’s Princeton home and his laboratory in the University’s Philosophical Hall or that Pete Conrad '53, commander of Apollo 12, brought small Princeton flags to the moon in November 1969. Currently, no outlet for sharing these aspects of Princeton lore with interested Princeton students, community members and other campus visitors exists. To address this programming gap, the Editorial Board proposes that Orange Key creates and advertises a weekly Historical Tour focused on Princeton’s architecture, history and traditions. Furthermore, we recommend the Admission Office offer tours of this nature during the upcoming Princeton Preview days for admitted students and their families.

Orange Key offers admissions tours throughout the year that anyone may join without pre-registration. Only groups of 10 or more need to pre-register with the admissions office and when they do so they may indicate that they would like their tour to have a historical focus, which is primarily done by groups of adults from outside organizations. However, this option is not advertised on the the office’s website. At a minimum, the website should state that historical tours are available upon request so interested groups know to take advantage of this opportunity. Yet this still does not meet the needs of individual community members or visitors in smaller groups who may be interested in Princeton’s history. While these individuals may attend a regular Orange Key campus tour, according to Orange Key’s Guide for Guides, any tour that has at least one prospective student must focus on Princeton’s academics and student life.

Therefore, the Board proposes the development of regularly scheduled Historical Tours that include information about the history, architecture, and traditions of many locations on campus beyond just Nassau Hall (the primary historical focus of current Orange Key tours). We recommend offering such a tour once or twice a week and advertising it on the admissions website as open to any members of the public and University students. Finally, we propose that the Historical Tour be offered during Princeton Preview for prospective students and in particular for their parents or siblings who may have already taken the regular Orange Key tour (which will be offered during Preview) and want a new option for Preview.

There is great value in regularly providing such Historical Tours. For residents of Princeton and surrounding areas, they may learn more about the University with which they share a home. Providing community members with greater access to the University fosters improved town-gown relationships, which is always in the University’s interest as it seeks to continue its positive collaboration with the town of Princeton. For students, education need not end in the classroom, and creating an environment rich in learning experiences is one of the University’s goals. That current campus tours focus in part on historical facts demonstrates that Orange Key and the admissions office share our belief that such information is of interest to campus visitors and important to be shared. We urge the University to provide an additional educational opportunity for interested students and the 700,000 people who visit Princeton each year by instituting regularly scheduled Historical Tours and making this an option for Princeton Preview activities.

Jeffrey Leibenhaut ’16 andJill Wilkowski '15abstained from this editorial.

The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-In-Chief.