The Historical Society of Princeton sponsors several lecture and panel events throughout the year, as part of the Lewis B. Cuyler Annual Meeting Lecture Program, the Speaking of History series, and others. Check back often for ways you can learn from and engage in conversation with local scholars of history!

J. Robert Oppenheimer and Dinner in Camelot

April 26
7:00 – 8:30 PM

In April 1962, President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy hosted forty-nine Nobel Prize winners — along with many other prominent scientists, artists, and writers — at a famed White House dinner. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, was the most controversial guest, having lost his security clearance in 1954. Oppenheimer was ostracized from participating in the official discussions of the use of atomic energy and was a target for conservative critics who saw him as soft on communism—if not worse. The dinner represented the beginning of his redemption in official Washington.

Not only a fascinating story, this evening, held at the height of the Cold War, had historical repercussions. The dinner symbolized a time when intellectuals were esteemed, divergent viewpoints could be respectfully discussed at the highest level, and the great minds of an age might all dine together in the rarefied glamour of “The People’s House.”

Joseph A. Esposito, author of the new book, Dinner in Camelot: The Night America’s Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House, will speak at Updike Farmstead in honor of the anniversaries of this impressive dinner and Oppenheimer’s birth.

Free, but registration is requested. Click here to register online. Books will be available for $25, cash only.


Joseph A. Esposito is a historian, writer, and educator. He served in three presidential administrations, most recently as a deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. He also held various positions over eleven years at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and was a working group chair for the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. He has taught history at three colleges, and is currently an adjunct associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

Speaking of History

This event series aims to foster civil dialogue around contemporary issues that beg a historical context and perspective.


Past Events:

September 12, 2017: Memory and History: The Meaning and Future of Monuments in the Aftermath of Charlottesville