In January, 1939, two local women, Ruth Schleifer and Laura Peskin, took their hopes for a “leisure hour school” from idea to reality. With the support and encouragement of B. Woodhull Davis, Supervising Principal of the Princeton Public Schools, Harold Dodds, President of Princeton University and John Mackay, President of the Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton Adult School was born. Its purpose as stated in the by-laws, was “…to offer each year to the adult residents of the Princeton area – regardless of race, color, creed, place of national origin, or sex —a variety of educational courses for their benefit and enjoyment.”
 On January 16, 1939 ­­– the first evening of classes – 500 people had registered for the 20 classes offered on Tuesday nights in the public school. Difficult economic times and a world on the brink of war were reflected in the course offerings. The first lecture series was called “World Politics.” Courses in literature, music, art and French were joined by classes in boiler repair, dressmaking, typing and modern homemaking. Dr. Davis, in particular, was anxious that this new educational effort should offer to those struggling through the depression a chance to improve their job skills so they could return to the work force.
Fast-forward 80 years. Courses, offered two nights a week, now number over 200 in each of two terms and the annual enrollment is over 3,000. The lecture series is entitled “VANISHING ACTS: REAL OR IMAGINED?” and classes are offered covering the arts, politics, humanities, history, health and wellness, food and drink, business and technology, home and garden, world languages, including English as a Second Language.

From lectures by Nobel prize-winners , to a student who loved her English classes so much that she offered to give back by volunteering to answer Spanish phones calls that came into the office. She still volunteers today as her way of saying thank you. The Princeton Adult School continues its mission of providing courses to the community “…in a convenient and enjoyable education experience.”
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