As current undergraduates at Princeton University, we would like to begin by acknowledging the unique role that Princeton played in the development of the atomic bomb. Although Albert Einstein’s connection to both the Manhattan Project and Princeton University is well documented, few people know that over two dozen Princeton faculty members were heavily involved with the Manhattan project, while additional research conducted by the Chemistry and Physics Departments contributed key knowledge to the development of nuclear weapons. Exposing these truths plays a critical role in delegitimizing our inaction, and in helping the broader Princeton community understand the unique responsibility that we share to rectify the damage inflicted on August 6th, 1945.
When Hiroshima University appealed to Princeton and other universities in 1951, they asked for donations of books and trees, citing a need to rebuild their library and bring life to a campus that had been rendered barren. They emphasized, however, that their ultimate goal extended far beyond material donations, and was to establish and strengthen cooperation and friendship among the universities. When Princeton elected to send only a single book and money to plant a single tree--without specifying the variety, as Hiroshima had requested--and a curt response letter, they demonstrated an unwillingness both to contribute more than the bare minimum, and to allow the donation to blossom into an enduring cooperation.
In 1951, Hiroshima University asked for cooperation and a joint effort towards establishing peace. In 2012, they asked more explicitly for a commitment to an anti-nuclear stance. It is our hope to fulfill both of these wishes by initiating new connections between the universities, fostering a legacy of cooperation and ultimately lead to joint efforts to study and condemn the development and use of nuclear weapons worldwide.
To learn more about the atomic bombed roof tiles and read full copies of many of the letters, click here.
To read additional letters not published in the Mudd Library blog, including Princeton’s full 1951 response in both 1951 and 2012, as well as an additional letter sent by Hiroshima in 2012, click here.