Famous People Who Are From or Lived in Princeton

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With a population under 30,000, Princeton doesn’t seem that big. But despite any small-town feeling it may have, Princeton, especially because of its world-renowned school, has been home to many famous people known for all sorts of wonderful–and not-so-wonderful–things. There are many well-known former and current Princeton residents, but here are some of the most famous ones.

Princeton UniversityMichelle Obama

While Michelle Obama was born and raised in Chicago, it can be argued that Princeton is the place that put her on the track to become perhaps America’s favorite FLOTUS. Obama attended Princeton University, where she studied sociology and African American studies, her education paving the way to her later studies at Harvard. However, her time in Princeton wasn’t completely serene – as she’s said in interviews, Obama felt out of place at times due to her race. It was these feelings she decided to investigate with her college thesis, titled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.”

Svetlana Alliluyeva

Did you know that noted Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had a daughter? Moreover, did you know she defected to Princeton? Indeed, Alliluyeva, who spent much of her life moving about the world, spent some years in Princeton, about a decade after her father’s death. While Allilyeva’s life was interesting on its own merits, she spent most of her life understandably in the shadow of her father. Princeton wasn’t the last place she lived, but it’s no doubt interesting that she chose to call the place her home for years.

Robert Oppenheimer

Of all the people on this list, J. Robert Oppenheimer’s contributions to society are probably the most controversial. Dubbed the “father of the atomic bomb,” Oppenheimer played a large role in developing nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. The bombs he helped create were the ones that were used in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While Oppenheimer was indirectly responsible for the deaths of many, it is important to note that he spent much of his later life actively working to limit the role of nuclear weapons in the world. He spent the last 20 years of his life as director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he died in 1967.

Woodrow Wilson

By all accounts, it’s quite amazing that Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, ended up in Princeton. Born in Staunton, Virginia, in 1856, Wilson grew up with dyslexia, unable to read until the age of 10. But, by studying at home and staying disciplined, he succeeded. In fact, he did so well that entered Princeton University, where he would return 30 years after his graduation to serve as the president. His presidency of Princeton ended in 1910 when he began a new presidency – that of the United States.

No matter your feelings on the famous people who’ve called Princeton their home, it is quite amazing to imagine all those, well-known and not, who’ve lived here. It makes you wonder: who knows what soon-to-be-famous folks are walking around the city right now?

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