Overcoming the Odds: A Look Back at Our Earliest Chinese Students

Items from the Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections

Editor’s Note: All the names in this post are presented as they appeared in the original Purdue publications.  The preferred Anglicized spellings of names may have changed since that time.

Continuing in our series on Purdue firsts, we take a look at some of our earliest Purdue alumni from China.

1916 Purdue Alumni Directory

One can search the earliest Purdue Alumni Directories to see who these students were. The 1916 Alumni Directory, which can be found in the Purdue Archives, shows this list of men as the first alums in China.  Upon further research, one learns that G.L. Hagman was from Louisville, Kentucky; H.H. Arnold hailed from Denver, Colorado; and L.E. Crowell was from Portland, Indiana, when they attended Purdue. One can deduce that they must have moved to China after graduation.

Fuchen K. Sah, the first Chinese student to graduate from Purdue, 1910 Debris. Click image to view larger version.

That leaves F.K. Sah, 1910, and P.L. Yang, 1911, as the first Purdue graduates from China.

Fuchen K. Sah (sometimes spelled Fuchuen Sah) graduated from Purdue in 1910 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.  He later became Engineer-in-Chief on Chiou-Chi Railway (The Chinese Students at Purdue, 16).

The earliest membership of the Purdue C.E. Club, 1910 Debris. Click image to view larger version.

Further research shows that another student from China was also part of the class of 1910 at some point. The membership roster for the Civil Engineering Club for 1910 lists L.C. Yen as a member and a part of the Class of 1910.

Cosmopolitan Club, 1909 Debris. Click image to view larger version.

L.C. Yen also appears in this 1909 photograph of the Cosmopolitan Club. The Cosmopolitan Club was first established at Purdue in 1907 and its membership comprised international students.

Per the listing for Yen in The Chinese Students at Purdue booklet, Yen “swung himself into action immediately after graduation. He served as District Engineer for the Szechuen-Hankow Railway and the Caton-Hankow Railway from 1910-1916. Then he took his own initiative in promoting an engineering company in Shanghai, China” (18).  Yen led the Pacific Engineering Company, while also managing the Pacific Trading Company.

Both Sah and Yen made tremendous contributions to the infrastructure of China in the early 1900s. They were pioneers in their efforts, and made important contributions to improve transportation in China.

From The Chinese Students at Purdue, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 3. Click image to view larger version.

The Purdue Chinese Students’ Club was founded in 1909 with only six students in the initial club. (The Chinese Students at Purdue, p.12). The Club’s 1925 publication The Chinese Students at Purdue is a valuable resource about both the club and its members. As stated in the text, “As an instrument for developing a cooperative spirit among the Chinese students in American universities, and for cultivating and promoting friendly relations with the people of the United States, the club has proved itself worthy of its existence.” Cora Whang, one of the first female Chinese students appears on the first row. The Chinese Students at Purdue booklet lists her as “Cora Wang, Sc., ex-’25.” (15) Note the difference in the spelling of her last name. There are no other photographs of her in the Debris yearbook under Whang or Wang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following profiles highlight several other early Chinese alumni.

Chi Ting Sun, 1915 Debris

Chi Ting Sun graduated in Electrical Engineering in 1915. Sun reminisced about his time at Purdue in Purdue in China, a 1961 publication by the Purdue Alumni Association of Taiwan: “I arrived at W. Lafayette in September 1911 by rail and was welcomed by a Y-man at the station. At that time a rough game, Tank Scrap, was to take place at the beginning of each school year. In the evening when the Scrap was going to start, Mrs. Goldsmith treated me as her own son. She pulled down the curtains of my room and told me to be quiet. Soon I heard shouting outside, ‘Freshmen out!’ She answered from downstairs, ‘He has been out already.’ She then turned and said to me, ‘Our American boys are accustomed to games of rough nature and they are near to their parents. You come to America for education and your parents are far away, on the other side of the Pacific. I must act as your mother. I want you to stay away at such occasions.’ Her lovely attitude toward a foreigner made me remember her forever.

I passed that winter without an overcoat for some unavoidable reasons. But Prof. Cole questioned me about the overcoat every time I met him. He watched over the foreign students so closely that it impressed me deeply.

I was in Purdue for four years and was getting on well with the professors and classmates. In the fall of 1915 I registered in M.I.T.  But before long I was badly homesick for Purdue. I am having the same feeling for Purdue in Taiwan now as I did in Boston 49 years ago.” (26)

Chi Ting Sun taught at Nan Kai College after he left Purdue. He later gave up teaching and went on to hold prominent positions with the famous Chiou-Chi Railway. It is said that many students held his recommendations in high regard. (The Chinese Students at Purdue, 16).

Kwo-Chun Lee, 1918 Debris

Kwo-Chun Lee (later spelled Kuo-Chun Li) also shared his accomplishments in Purdue in China.  He wrote, ”Just before the war broke out in July 1937, I joined the Ministry of Railways and was assigned to supervise the construction of a large railway workshop in Chuchowm Huan. Having completed this job the following year, I took up a post as section engineer of the war time construction of the Huan-Kwangsi Railway. My section was located half-way between Kweilin and Liuchow, in Kwangsi Province, winding alongside a small stream through a narrow deep valley fully infested with malaria. In worst cases, victims died within three days and due to this disease we had lost several thousand men within a period of two years.” (Purdue in China, Purdue Alumni Association of Taiwan, p. 19).  After the war, Li went on to help rehabilitate the war torn railroad system in three provinces. He was able to accomplish the rehabilitation by May 1949, the railway was opened to traffic, and an extension of the railway was undertaken. Li reported that he left the mainland for Taiwan about this time. His first job in Taiwan, as reported by Li, “was the erection of sixteen spans of 205 feet steel trusses for the Silo Bridge, the famous highway bridge in central Taiwan.” (Purdue in China, 20). Li later went on to hold prominent positions within the Military Construction Bureau, Ministry of National Defense. In his words, “The Bureau undertakes all kinds of construction projects, including designing and building airfields, harbor, roads, barracks, shops and all kinds of installations for the armed forces.” (20).

Practical knots, hitches and splices Norman, C. A. ; Purdue University. Division of Rural Engineering 1920. Click image to access the full publication.

Chen Yew Tang, 1921 Debris

Chen Yew Tang graduated in 1921 with a B.S. in Agriculture and was a skilled illustrator. His talent is shown in this Purdue Extension Bulletin he contributed to while a Purdue student.

 

 

 

J.C. Li, 1923 Debris

Ju Chi Li also contributed to agriculture worldwide.  He graduated from Purdue in 1923. As a student, Li wrote about agriculture in China in the October 1922 issue of The Purdue Agriculturist 

 

Purdue Agriculturist, October 1922. Click image to view larger version.

Purdue Agriculturist, October 1922, p. 14. Click image to view larger version.

This fictionalized diary page from the 1927 Chinese Students’ Year Book describes what it was like for a Chinese student at Purdue in 1927. “Rent $12.00…”

Page from a Chinese student’s diary, Chinese Students’ Year Book, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 5. Click image to view larger version.

Alumni graduate students from China have also made major contributions to their fields.

Yong-piao Liu, Purdue in China, p. 35

Dr. Yong-piao Liu’s work was important to the field of veterinary science. As Liu recalled in the Purdue in China booklet, “Through the recommendation of Dr. I.E. Newsom, veterinary advisor of JCPR (the former president of Colorado Agriculture and Medical College) as well as the financial aid offered by China Foundation, I joined the Department of Veterinary Science of Purdue University to study veterinary bacteriology for one year from 1953-1954. I spent many a happy hour there in carrying out various experiments with adequate laboratory facilities, materials and assistance of the staff. Before going to the States I investigated Swine Pneumonia and this work I continued at Purdue University in order to determine the real cause. From 108 heads of the diseased pigs, I isolated Listeria organism from three cases. This was the first successful trial of isolation of Listeria organism for swine in Indiana.” (23).

Dr. Y.P. Liu later became the head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at National Taiwan University, in charge of Veterinary Bacteriology and Infectious Diseases of Domestic Animals.

Deng Jiaxian, 1950. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Another Chinese Ph.D. student from Purdue to make his mark in history was Deng Jiaxian, known as China’s “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue in 1950. After graduation, he returned to China and dedicated over 20 years working with a team of scientists who developed the nuclear and hydrogen bomb for China. Jiaxian’s contributions were critical to China’s nuclear program. In 1999 he was posthumously awarded the National Merit Medal for his contributions to Chinese Military Science.

The Purdue University Archives and Special Collections has a collection of articles that document some of the press releases after Deng Jiaxian’s death, from a local story by Jack Alkire of the Journal and Courier to publications from China. The Archives also has Jiaxian’s Ph.D. dissertation, The Photo-Disintegration of the Deuteron.”

The Chinese Students at Purdue booklet provides a list of the earliest Chinese Purdue alumni. Two women, Lillian Lee, (ex ’25) and Cora Wang, (ex ’25), do not appear in the Debris yearbook, but are noted as alumnae.

The earliest Chinese Purdue alumni. From The Chinese Students at Purdue, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 3. Click image to view larger version.

 

The 1927 Chinese Students’ Year Book lists Anna Lee as the only female Chinese student at that time.

 

Pages from Chinese Students’ Year Book, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 5

Programs from the Chinese Students’ Alliance Mid-West Conference, 1921. Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 4

Another important contribution Chinese students at Purdue made was participation in the Chinese Students’ Alliance. The Alliance was a nationwide organization of Chinese students studying in the United States, the first nation to which modern China sent students for an education. 

Program from the Chinese Students’ Alliance Mid-West Conference, 1925. Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 4

The Alliance was divided into three sections; the Eastern, Midwest and Western. Each section was composed of a number of Chinese Students’ Clubs.

Chinese Students’ Annual Conference Closed Wednesday, Purdue Exponent, September 10, 1921. Click image to view larger version.

Each year during early September, an annual summer conference was held by each section at a convenient location for the purpose of bringing the Chinese students together to exchange ideas and discuss important problems. Purdue University was the site of the Mid-West Conference in 1921 and again in 1925.

There are so many other stories that could be featured as firsts among the Chinese Purdue students! This is just a sampling of those that made an early impact among the Purdue community and worldwide. Their efforts have made the world a better place.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego (’82), Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.

References

Purdue University. Chinese Students’ Club. Alumni Committee. (1924). The Chinese students at Purdue. LaFayette, Ind.: Purdue University.

Purdue Alumni Association of Taiwan. (1961). Purdue in China. Taipei, Taiwan.

Burg, David F. “Chinese Students’ Alliance.” Encyclopedia of Student and Youth Movements. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1998. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 17 June 2014.

Yu, C.C. “The Chinese Students’ Alliance in the United States.” Young China, July 1921. Web. 17 June  2014.

Bevis, Teresa Brawner. “The Chinese Students’ Alliance.” A History of Higher Education Exchange: China and America.  New York : Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2013. Web. 17 June 2014.

File:鄧稼先普渡照片.jpg. (2017, October 3). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 20:28, July 18, 2018 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:%E9%84%A7%E7%A8%BC%E5%85%88%E6%99%AE%E6%B8%A1%E7%85%A7%E7%89%87.jpg&oldid=261298137.

Celebrating Black History Month: Firsts by Purdue African-American Students & Alumni

Items from the Purdue University African American Students, Alumni and Faculty collection

Black History Month is a great time to take a look back in Purdue’s history and honor our African American pioneers, the people who broke new ground and paved the way for others. Actually, any time is the right time to honor people who have succeeded, but particularly those who faced obstacles outside the norm of typical student life.

If one flips through the Debris yearbook from the earliest years in Purdue’s history, it becomes clear from the atmosphere that is portrayed, the cartoons that are illustrated, and the words that are used that students were not always kind or inclusive towards one another. Although all students struggle from time to time, it is important to remember that people of color, or any people who differed from the majority, faced additional struggles inside and outside the classroom, and their voices are not always included in these historical accounts of student life. We believe this creates even more cause to celebrate, as a means of honoring those individuals who succeeded despite the odds.

According to historical accounts in the Archives, in 1944 there were twelve African American students at Purdue (Cornelius 10), and records show 145 black students in 1965.  Thirty years later, during the 1994-1995 school year, there were 1,175. In 2015, the number was only a bit higher, at 1,183.

Below are some of the Purdue “firsts” among the African American student population:

1890, Purdue’s First Black Graduate

George W. Lacey is noted as having graduated from Purdue in Pharmacy. He is not found in the Debris yearbook, but he is mentioned elsewhere as having been Purdue’s first black graduate. His name is found in the 1890 Druggists’ Circular and Chemical Gazette with the listing of those who graduated from the Purdue School of Pharmacy that year. Fred Whitford, author of The Grand Old Man of Purdue University and Indiana Agriculture: A Biography of William Carroll Latta, also makes mention of Lacey as being the first black Purdue graduate (Whitford 37).

 

Or was it David Robert Lewis?

David Robert Lewis has also been noted in Purdue’s historical accounts as the University’s first black graduate. He was from Greensburg, Indiana, and he earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1894. His senior thesis was titled “Highway Road Construction.”

 

 

Click to learn more about Lewis.

One problem in identifying the first African American graduate of Purdue, is that although Purdue began offering courses in 1874, the first records that include images of students are in the Debris yearbook, which did not exist until 1889. Therefore, the possibility exists that neither Lacey nor Lewis were the first African American graduate from Purdue– it is possible that a student who graduated prior to invention of the yearbook may have been African American, but thus far there is no record in the University Archives that confirms this. Official university records did not include race or ethnicity prior to 1974.

Other Early African American Graduates

Richard Wirt Smith graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 1904.

1904  Debris

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smith in a Purdue Pharmacy Lab in 1904.

Indianapolis Recorder, February 4, 1939

1904 Debris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per Mr. Smith’s obituary in the Indianapolis Recorder, February 4, 1939, he died a successful druggist, at the young age of 54.

1905,  John Henry Weaver, Pharmacy

As noted in John Henry Weaver’s Debris entry, he was also a member of the track team for 4 years. Sadly, as mentioned in Alexandra Cornelius’ research, “Purdue teams, like other national sports teams, became segregated in the 1910s and 1920s. They remained segregated until 1947, when black attorney Willard Ransom, a Purdue alumnus, challenged the University, and a student protest led to a black football player being put into the game.” Cornelius found other evidence that life must have been difficult for black students in the early years of the 20th century. Her research has provided valuable evidence of early African American life at Purdue and is used frequently in the Archives.

 

1905, Samuel Saul Dargan graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1905. He went on to become the first black man to earn a Law Degree from Indiana University (1909). He was curator of the IU Law Library for 39 years and assisted many law school students during that time.

1905 Debris

 

 

 

More about Dargan

 

 

1913, David Nelson Crosthwait Jr., Mechanical Engineering

1913 Debris

David Crosthwait became a pioneer in the field of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, and is known for finding a way to heat Radio City Music Hall.

More about Crosthwait

 

 

 

 

Who was the first black woman to attend Purdue?  As one turns the pages of the earliest Purdue Debris yearbooks, very few females look up from the pages. Even fewer black females are present. Per Caitlyn Marie Stypa, in her 2013 master’s thesis, Purdue Girls: The Female Experience at a Land-Grant University, 1887-1913: “While university publications make it difficult to determine who the first black woman was to enroll in or graduate from Purdue University, it is quite certain that she was not a student until after 1913.”  Stypa goes on to write that “as late as 1911, black women made up just one-third of one percent of female college and university students. Common reasons for the low enrollment rate included lack of funds or outright discrimination” (Stypa 5).

As mentioned earlier, the fact that prior to 1974, a student’s permanent record did not include any racial or ethnic identification makes efforts to locate the first African American students a difficult task.

1910, First African American Women

One of the first black females to be found in the Debris yearbook appears in the middle of this photograph of the 1910 Junior Pharmacy Class. If one looks for her in the following years, she does not appear. Not every student had their photograph taken for the Debris, which makes it difficult to rely upon as a source for verifying the first African American students at Purdue; however, as one of the few early historical records containing images, the Debris yearbook is often our best available source for finding clues about Purdue’s early African American students. Because this woman could not be identified in later issues of the yearbook, it is possible that she was a student who did not finish her degree at Purdue.

1910,   Junior Pharmacy Class

1913, Summer School for Teachers

In this photograph from the 1913 Debris, one finds another black woman. Her name is not noted, but she participated in Purdue’s Summer School for Teachers, which included Indiana high school and college students from around the state. It is unknown whether she was a full-time student enrolled in courses (outside of the Summer School for Teachers) at Purdue. 

1910, Summer School for Teachers

1927, Inez Mason

In 1927, Inez Mason was the first cited member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, an early Greek organization established for African-American college women.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree the same year. Her membership in the sorority is noted under her photo in the 1927 Debris.

Inez Mason, 1927 Debris

 

 

 

 

 

 

1931, Thelma F. McDonald

McDonald, 1931 Debris

 

No further information has been located in the Archives about Thelma McDonald.

 

 

1932, Silance Sisters

Sisters Delia and Ella Belle Silance of Lafayette appear to be two of the first black female graduates of Purdue. Both graduated with distinction and are shown below in the 1932 Debris.

Silance Sisters, 1932 Debris

“…Male black students could only live in West Lafayette in International House on University Avenue. However, black female students were denied the right and had to live across the river. ‘Practice House’ was a requirement in order to earn a degree in Home Economics. It was a program of 6 weeks duration, during which time home making duties were rotated among the girls each week. During those weeks two girls roomed together in the house. However, I was assigned to a group of five which included a very well liked black student. Those making the room pairings were planning to assign her to her own room, thinking incorrectly that no one would want to room with her. But she did have a room mate and one of the white girls roomed alone. Therefore, all of the assignments had to be rescheduled to accommodate a class of five. Thankfully, those restrictions were lifted long ago.” (Source: The Way It Was at Purdue 1941-1945, by Esther Conelley Boonstra, HE ’45).

Read more of Connelly Boonstra’s firsthand account of Purdue in the early 1940s

1942 – International House established

The first members of International House, 1942

International House became the home for Purdue black male and international students, appearing in the Debris in 1942.

 

1949 Debris

 

 

This page from the 1949 Debris describes International House. Click on the photo for a full view of the page.

 

 

Jean Douglas, 1945 Debris

 

 

1945

If one searches the Debris for the Home Economics graduates for 1945, the lone black face that looks up from the pages is Jean Douglas.  She is most likely the student mentioned in Esther Conelley’s account above.

 

 1947, Purdue Athletics

As mentioned previously, Purdue athletic teams remained segregated until 1947. If one looks through the pages of the Debris yearbook, it is difficult to find any black student athletes before 1950. In 1950, Herman Murray can be found in the team photograph for the Football “B” team.

1950 Debris

 

1955

Lundy, 1955 Debris

In 1955, Lamar Lundy was a center for the Purdue basketball team.

Many other exceptional black athletes would one day follow in their footsteps.

 

 

 

 

Other Firsts

Cooper-Shockley

1955, first African American Woman to Earn Ph.D.

In 1955 Dr. Delores Cooper Shockley became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Purdue and in the United States.   Read more about her

 

 

1968, first African American Faculty Member

Bass Williams

It was not until 1968, when Helen Bass Williams was hired, that Purdue had a member of the faculty who was African American. Williams was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement before coming to Purdue. She was hired as an instructor in French and a counselor in the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education.

More about Helen Bass Williams

1975, The National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) began as the Society of Black Engineers (SBE) and was founded at Purdue University in the 1970s. Because of this, Purdue is also known as the mother chapter of NSBE. The National Society of Black Engineers came into being as a result of a conference planned and hosted by SBE at Purdue in April 1975.

1975 Debris

Per the Purdue University Minority Engineering web page:

“In the early 1970s, only 20 percent of minority engineers stayed in the engineering program after their first year. With this low retention rate, there was a large disparity in the student population. John Logan, Edward Coleman, George Smith, Stanley Kirtley, Brian Harris, and Anthony Harris became known as the Chicago Six, as they took action to help their fellow students. In 1975, they founded the Black Society of Engineers (BSE) with the help of their advisor Arthur Bond at Purdue. Anthony Harris proposed changing the name to Society of Black Engineers (SBE) in 1976 and he began reaching out to engineering programs and advisors throughout the nation, proposing a national organization and collaboration. In 1976, the first national conference was held at Purdue University and included participation from 32 schools and 48 students from all parts of the country.”  More Information

1975 Debris

Anthony Harris, one of the society’s founding members, was named chairman of the national advisory board for the society in 2007. He is president and CEO of Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company, a manufacturer of equipment that detects contraband, explosives and “dirty bombs.” Its primary customers include the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1975 and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1979. He was named a Purdue Outstanding Mechanical Engineer in 1999.

 

1978, Kassandra Agee – Purdue’s First Black Homecoming Queen

1979 Debris

In 1978, as a sophomore, Kassandra Agee was elected as Purdue’s first African American Homecoming Queen, following an extensive and energetic campaign. Kassandra “Katie” Agee (now Chandler) took part in many activities on campus.  She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honors society, Purdue Pals, the Black Voices of Inspiration Choir, and the Society of Minority Managers. In addition, Agee also served as a social counselor for the Business Opportunity Program in the School of Management and was a member of the Mortar Board senior honors society at the time of her graduation. Following graduation, she was successfully employed at a variety of businesses, including the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Exxon, Dow Chemical, and Procter & Gamble, as well as running her own information technology business.

1990, Robert J. Taylor (M.E. ’60), Purdue’s first black trustee

“Taylor named Purdue trustee”   Taylor served as a member of Purdue’s board of trustees until 1996.

1990, Tarrus Richardson was elected as Purdue Student Body President

1991 Debris

In 1990, Tarrus Richardson became the first black Purdue Student Body President, with 70% of the vote. Richardson was very active on campus.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Purdue in 1991and a MBA from Harvard Business School in 1996. He later became CEO of IMB Development Corporation.

 

There are so many more diverse individuals in Purdue history who could be featured, and the Archives looks forward to continuing to preserve the histories of these individuals and share them with you. It is an honor to highlight the lives of Purdue pioneers who faced tremendous obstacles and persevered, forging the way for future generations of Boilermakers.

As part of Black History Month, and beyond, we aim to celebrate all individuals who helped make Purdue University the outstanding institution of higher learning it is today. To learn more about early African American life at Purdue, please contact us to view the references cited below, as well as related collections on the topic, in the Archives.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego (’82), Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.

References:

Cornelius, Alexandra, “Evolution of the Black Presence at Purdue University,” (1994, July 5) Purdue University African American Students, Alumni and Faculty collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections (Box 1, Folder 10), Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.

Whitford, F., & Martin, A. (2005). The grand old man of Purdue University and Indiana agriculture : A biography of William Carroll Latta. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press.

Stypa, Caitly Marie (2013). Purdue Girls: The Female Experience at a Land-Grant University, 1887-1913, Unpublished master’s thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Boonstra, Esther Conelley (1945). The Way it was at Purdue 1941-1945, Esther Conelly Boonstra collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, (Communal Collections 3, Placement 20), Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.

Debris Yearbook, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.  earchives.lib.purdue.edu, 18 February, 2018.

Related collections:

The records of the Black Cultural Center (BCC) are a treasure trove of source material on African American student life at Purdue, dating from circa 1969 to present. In partnership with the BCC Library, the Archives makes these records available for research and study.

The 2009 film Black Purdue, created by Jamar White, Derek Fordjour, Keith David, and the Purdue Black Alumni Organization provides excellent primary source material. The film includes interviews with many of the students and faculty involved in the early days of the founding of the Black Cultural Center. This film is available through both the Archives and through the media collection of the Black Cultural Center.

 

Sweet Shop Still Sweet Spot on Campus after 90 Years!

                                                                                                                                                                          The Sweet Shop has been a favorite meeting spot on campus for generations. Ninety years later, it is still going strong. If the walls could talk, they might tell tales of romance, struggles, friendships made, and futures forged. The Purdue Memorial Union opened in 1924. At that time, the dining facilities in the Union consisted of a cafeteria area with a soda fountain and a banquet service, all operating as one unit.

The first true Sweet Shop appeared in its own separate space in 1927, and was expanded to its present size in 1957. It has always been a special meeting spot on campus and a part of Purdue history. When it first opened, Purdue students often referred to it as the “Sweet Shop Lab.”  They would schedule time in the “lab” for the social side of their education.

As students wrote in the Purdue yearbook, the 1932 Debris:

“The ‘Sweet Shop’ provides a delightful rendezvous for Purdue students. The shop is a nook where students drink a cooling ‘coke,’ meet new friends and release themselves from the usual scholastic atmosphere. This service is in constant demand, and many leisure hours are spent enjoying the companionship of the ‘Sweet Shop.'” (pg 217)

Here are some of the earliest photographs of the soda fountain (Pre-Sweet Shop days).

From the Purdue Memorial Union publication, “Unchanged Traditionally, Yet Traditionally Changing,” 1974.

 

 

  

  Early 1920s


 

 

 

 

Photograph provided by the Purdue Memorial Union.

 

 

The soda-fountain was along one wall of the cafeteria in the early 1920s.

 

 

 

 

Photo provided by the Purdue Memorial Union

 

 

 

A full house reflects the popularity of the “lab.”

 

 

 

 

1925, Frank “Pappy” Fox starts working in the Sweet Shop.

Pappy (left) serving students, Debris 1950

Frank “Pappy” Fox was a beloved fixture in the Sweet Shop for over 30 years. He also managed the Barber Shop and Billiards Room from 1925-1959.

Per a Memorial Union brochure, “Frank served up sound advice and sympathy for student problems with his coffee, sandwiches and sodas. In return, the students showed great pride and respect for the Sweet Shop and quickly added a ‘Sweet Shop Lab’ to their schedules. Everyone who worked for Mr. and Mrs. Fox saw their sincere interest and devotion to the student body. Many ‘Sweet Shop Coke™ dates’ developed into romances under the happy guidance of ‘Mommy’ and ‘Pappy’ Fox.”  (Sterrett, Jeff., Gick, Becky, and Mindrum, Bob).

Fox planned the original menu for the Sweet Shop, which was never changed during his management. He developed his own chocolate sauce and blend of coffee. The early Sweet Shop’s favorite and standard snack was a ham salad sandwich. “Pappy dispensed 150 gallons of coffee per day and seven 40-gallon barrels of Coke™ per week.” (Sterrett)

The Purdue community owes “Pappy” much for his dedication to the Sweet Shop and those he served over the years. After renovations, the Sweet Shop became known as Pappy’s Sweet Shop, as a way to honor Fox.

 

Purdue Alumnus, September/October, 1959

Fox Honored during Homecoming 1959

 

There has been some speculation from unverified sources that Pappy was a bootlegger during prohibition and used the sweet shop as a cover. When the Sweet Shop was most recently renovated, that tidbit was even used in their marketing, and this is what appears today on a door by the cash registers (click the image for the full view):

Images from the Sweet Shop through the years

1940s

Debris 1944

1950s

Debris 1955

Per page 83 of the 1955 Debris, “The Sweet Shop took on a more refined atmosphere as prom-goers rested their weary feet between dances.”

Pappy’s circa 1955 (Purdue Archives photo PPBUC00845)

The Sweet Shop was expanded in 1957 and the next redecoration took place in 1967.

1960s

Attendees of the 1960 Military Ball stop in the Sweet Shop for a drink.

Debris 1960

In order to provide efficient service to the many students who used the Sweet Shop, paper disposable-ware was introduced in the 1960s. This was a first in college union food service. (Anderson, Deborah J., Westbury, Edmond P., and Hughes, Melvin M., p. 7).

1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Sweet Shop resembled cafeteria-style food-service.

Debris 1986

Debris 1977

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000s – Diner-Style

Debris 2005

Pappy’s in 2004 (Purdue Archives photo PPBUC02352)

Sources:

Sterrett, Jeff., Gick, Becky, and Mindrum, Bob. 75th Anniversary : Purdue Memorial Union. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University, 1999.

Anderson, Deborah J., Westbury, Edmond P., and Hughes, Melvin M. “Unchanged Traditionally, Yet Traditionally Changing.” West Lafayette (IN): Purdue University, Purdue Memorial Union, 1974.

Debris Yearbook, Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.  earchives.lib.purdue.edu, 9 June 2017.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego, Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.  Mary would like to thank Bob Mindrum, Director of the Purdue Memorial Union (1995-2016), for his contributions of photographs, brochures, and most importantly, personal stories in the compilation of this blog post.

Collection Spotlight: The Romance of Bernice Nelson and L. Murray Grant

Editor’s Note: The Collections Spotlight series will highlight small collections that provide unique glimpses of Purdue and its people.

Among the holdings of Purdue University Archives and Special Collections are many materials that belonged to Purdue students during their time in West Lafayette.  Each collection is different and provides a personal view of the student and his or her college experience.  In the case of the L. Murray Grant and Bernice Nelson Grant Papers, we get to glimpse two different students during their college days.

Lloyd Murray Grant, 1904 Debris

Bernice Nelson, 1905 Debris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lloyd Murray Grant graduated from Purdue with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1904.  His future wife, Bernice Nelson, graduated the following year with a B.S. in Science (1905).  Both Murray and Bernice were popular students who participated in many clubs and societies.  They crossed paths as members of the Debris Yearbook staff, Murray as business manager and Bernice as associate editor.

Bernice Nelson’s dance cards

Bernice attended many social events held by campus groups and kept her dance cards, which document the dances of the evening and allowed young women to record the names of their dance partners.  Almost every one of her dance slots was filled.  Interestingly, though most of Bernice’s seven remaining dance cards are from the 1903-1904 year, she never once listed Murray as a dance partner.  Despite this absence, Grant’s senior biography in the Debris hints at a connection: “Murray holds a strength record in the Gym and also one outside.  He is known as the man with the ‘strong hold’ – the ‘full Nelson.'”

Programs (clockwise from left): Annual Dinner of the Purdue Alumni Association of New York City 1906, 1904 Commencement Program, Class of 1905 Junior Banquet, Invitation to 1904 Commencement

Gala Week, the days leading up to graduation, was packed with activities for seniors and their families.  Murray saved the programs from many of those events, including the senior class banquet, invitation to commencement, commencement program, and full list of Gala Week activities.  The program for Bernice’s commencement in 1905 is also part of the collection, as is the program for a Purdue Alumni Association of New York City Annual Dinner of 1906.

The collection also includes two articles about Purdue written by Bernice Nelson and published in the Exponent.  The first, simply titled “Purdue,” extols the prominent role of Purdue graduates in the world.  The second, titled “The Purdue of Yesterday,” is a handwritten draft.  “The Purdue of Yesterday” shares anecdotes passed along by Purdue students from earlier years, including stories about sneaking out past curfew, riding trains around campus right after the track was laid, and playing lighthearted pranks during chapel services.

“Purdue” (left) and “The Purdue of Yesterday”

After graduating with his Mechanical Engineering degree, Murray Grant found work first in New York City and then in his hometown of Spokane, Washington.  Bernice Nelson moved first to Illiopolis, Illinois, then to Rawlins, Wyoming, to teach science.  In 1909, the couple married in her hometown of Lowell, Indiana, then moved to Seattle, where they lived for the rest of their lives.  Murray built a successful career in water works and piping, and is credited with “design[ing] and construct[ing] most of the large, continuous stave penstocks and pipe lines in the U.S” (Who’s Who in Engineering, Vol. 1, 1922-1923).

David E. Ross to L. Murray Grant, June 7, 1933

The Grants remained active in Purdue alumni organizations throughout their lives.  Murray was President of the Purdue Alumni Association from 1907 to 1908, participated in local chapters everywhere he lived, and even co-founded the Spokane chapter in 1908 (Exponent, 12 December 1908).  Their move to Seattle was announced in the Exponent with the note that “they will be glad to have all Purdue friends call when in Seattle” (Exponent, 18 September 1909).  The Grants were often visited by Purdue’s President Winthrop Stone, an amateur mountain climber, when he traveled to the western United States and Canada to climb the Rockies.  The Grant Papers include multiple letters between Stone and Grant planning their reunions during Stone’s visits.

The final item in the Grant Papers is a letter from Purdue Trustee David E. Ross, written in 1933, asking Murray Grant to meet with an international exchange student from Purdue who would be visiting the Seattle area.  Nearly thirty years after graduation, Murray was still involved in the promotion of Purdue.

The L. Murray Grant and Bernice Nelson Grant Papers are available for research in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center.

MSA 330, L. Murray Grant and Bernice Nelson Grant papers, Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

‘Lil Orphan Annie Attends Purdue

Did you know that Harold Gray, the creator of ‘Lil Orphan Annie, was a Purdue grad?

Harold Lincoln Gray was born near Kankakee, Illinois, on January 20, 1894, to Ira Lincoln Gray, a farmer, and Estella M. Rosencrans. As a child, his family moved to a farm near West Lafayette, Indiana. Gray graduated from West Lafayette High School in 1912. After graduation he entered Purdue University. Due to losing both parents before he graduated high school, Gray had to serve as a construction worker to pay his college tuition. During college he also worked for the Lafayette Morning Journal creating cartoons and selling advertising.

Gray’s activities while a Purdue student. 1917 Debris yearbook

Gray was assistant art editor for the Debris yearbook for three years and art editor during his senior year. He drew political cartoons for the yearbook and also for the Exponent student newspaper. He served briefly as a reporter for the Exponent as well. Gray graduated from Purdue in 1917 with a Bachelor of Science degree. As was customary in yearbooks of the era, his name was listed along with nicknames such as “Grace” and “Cart.” Below his entry in the yearbook is the phrase “Oh! what a noble mind.”

Gray, 1917 Debris yearbook

Gray’s early student artwork published in the 1916 and 1917 Debris yearbooks speaks to Purdue life from the student perspective, and provides a glimpse of the artistic style for which he would later become known. It has been said that his artwork “cast a spell that enhanced his story. Filling his drawings with solid blacks, heavy shadows, and darkly shaded nooks and crannies.” (Harvey, 2013)

From the 1916 Debris

Gray’s artwork from 1916 Debris

Artwork done by Gray for a Purdue Student Handbook

Gray’s artwork from the 1917 Debris (his senior year)

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

A week after graduating from Purdue, Gray accepted a job as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, at a salary of $15 a week. He soon transitioned to the art department. Gray left the Tribune to enlist in the Army during World War I. He became a bayonet instructor, and rose to the rank of second lieutenant.  After a short period in the Army he returned to the Chicago Tribune where he began a 5-year apprenticeship as an assistant to Sidney Smith on the comic “The Gumps.” Gray appreciated the training he received from Smith and began to develop some of his own ideas. At first he created a prototype boy hero and named him “Little Orphan Otto.” At the suggestion of an influential friend from his days at the Tribune, Joseph Medill Patterson, Gray drew a dress on  the figure and renamed the character “Annie.” Part of this was because there were 50 boy comic strips at this time and only 3 girl comics. Both the Tribune and the New York Daily News launched “Little Orphan Annie,” on August 5, 1924.  The main characters, “Annie,” her dog “Sandy,” and her billionaire foster father, “Daddy Warbucks,” soon took a growing number of readers on adventures, many with a slant toward social commentary.

Gray did not forget his Indiana and Purdue roots. Some of the strips from 1927-1929 featured adventures in Lafayette, Indiana and the vicinity, including Purdue University. Since Gray enjoyed exploring Happy Hollow Park as a boy, his comic strip often mentioned a fictional Happy Hollow Seminary.

In the comic below, Little Orphan Annie prepares to go to Purdue.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

In the following cartoons from 1928 and 1929, Annie again interacts with Purdue. Note the Purdue pennant in the first frame, and mention of “Happy Hollow” in the 3rd. Please click on the comic strips to get a better view.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

In these comics, Annie studies hard, while Gray reflects on his college days.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Annie has a touch of spring fever, is happy Purdue beat its rival Indiana University, and learns about some famous Purdue alumni. Note the Purdue pillow that is prominently displayed.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Bob Kriebel, a columnist for the Lafayette Journal and Courier newspaper wrote that Gray’s character, Annie, in many ways “reflected Gray’s personal convictions that all Americans should act with honor, independence of thought and industry; mind their own business and remain true to the traditional pioneering virtues.” (Kriebel, June 3, 2016)

The “Annie” cartoon took on a more political color in the 1930s.  Eventually, the comic strip incorporated subtle commentary from Gray on income tax, organized labor, communism, left-wingers, food and fueling rationing, and public welfare. In regard to the latter, he named one of his characters Mrs. Bleeding Heart.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

By the late 1930s, hundreds of U.S. newspapers presented “Annie” to tens of millions of readers. Gray was sometimes criticized for his use of the comic strip to voice his conservative Republican political and social views. When he died of lymphatic cancer on May 9, 1968, in La Jolla, California, Gray was a millionaire, owing much of his wealth to his creation of “Annie.” Other artists later tried to draw “Annie,” but not with the same success. In the fall of 1979, Leonard Starr began writing and drawing new adventures under the title “Annie.”

In October 1995, the U.S. Postal Service chose “Little Orphan Annie” as one of 20 “Comic Strip Classics” in a series of commemorative stamps.  Gray was also part of a select group of artists inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Museum of Cartoon Art.

“Little Orphan Annie” as one of 20 “Comic Strip Classics” in a series of commemorative stamps from 1995.

Article by Mary A. Sego, Purdue Archives Processing Assistant.

References:

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Harvey, R.C. (2013, May 13). “The Orphan’s Epic.” The Comics Journal. Retrieved from http://www.tcj.com/the-orphans-epic/

Kriebel, Bob. (2016, June 3). ‘Annie’ cartoonist got his start in Lafayette. Journal & Courier. Retrieved from http://www.jconline.com/story/news/2016/06/03/annie-cartoonist-got-his-start-lafayette/84825770/

Thomis, Wayne. (1968, May 10), “Harold Gray, Orphan Annie’s Creator, Dies in West at 74.” Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1968/05/10/page/3/article/harold-gray-orphan-annies-creator-dies-in-west-at-74

Remembering Amelia Earhart’s Round-the-World Flight: The 80th Anniversary of Her “Shining Adventure” (Part 2 of 2)

Amelia Earhart kept notes from the different legs of her flight, and those notes are part of her papers in the Archives and Special Collections at Purdue. Some pages of her notes exhibit oil stains or other indications that she made them while in flight. The New York Herald Tribune had exclusive rights to her story, and Earhart remained in contact with the paper throughout her flight, sending telegrams from the various locations where she stopped to refuel.

MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

 

 

To read the entire telegram, please click on image.

 

 

 

 

Purdue Exponent, March 16, 1937

Purdue Exponent, March 17, 1937, p.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Herald Tribune shared Earhart’s account of the flight with the Purdue Exponent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart, Harry Manning, and Fred Noonan being photographed in front of Earhart’s plane, Oakland Airport, California, March 17, 1937. MSP 9.

Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart, Harry Manning, and Fred Noonan standing in front of the nose of Earhart’s plane, Oakland Airport [?], California,  March 17, 1937. MSP 9.

The takeoff of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane from the Oakland Airport in California, March 17, 1937. This was the last test-hop of the flight before heading out over the Pacific. MSP 9.

 


The long anticipated flight had begun, and the Purdue Exponent shared the excitement with the Purdue community.

Purdue Exponent, March 18, 1937.

 

 

 

 

 

All three clips are from one front page Purdue Exponent article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


With 900 gallons of gasoline on board, Earhart finally takes off from Luke Field for Howland Island. Earhart’s first attempt resulted in disaster and a damaged plane.

Purdue Alumnus, March 1937, Vol. XXIV, No. 6, p. 3

Paul Mantz, members of the United States Army Air Corp, and others observing the wrecked Lockheed Electra plane after Earhart crashed while attempting to take off from Luke Field, Hawaii to Howland Island, March 20, 1937. MSP 9.

People watch as mechanics work on repairing the wrecked Lockheed Electra plane after Earhart crashed while attempting to take off from Luke Field, Hawaii to Howland Island, March 20, 1937. MSP 9.

The following are accounts from Last Flight, which was compiled from Earhart’s logs and journal writings by George Palmer Putnam after her death. It was to be titled World Flight.

“There was not the slightest indication of anything abnormal. Ten seconds later the airplane which brought us so gallantly to Honolulu lay helpless on the concrete runway, a poor battered bird with broken wings.”

“As for the crew, only our spirits were bruised when this sudden disaster overtook us. By good fortune, Harry Manning, Fred Noonan and I emerged without a scratch. But the plane, her landing gear wiped off and one wing damaged, was a sad sight to see. At that, the comparatively slight damage was a fine testimonial to the sturdiness of Lockheed construction – such an accident might well result in a total wash-out.”

“Witnesses said the tire blew. However, studying the tracks carefully, I believe that may not have been the primary cause of the accident. Possibly the landing gear’s right shock absorber, as it lengthened, may have given way.” “Watchers on the ground saw the wing drop. Suddenly the plane pulled to my right. I reduced the power on the opposite engine and succeeded in swinging from the right to the left. For a moment I thought I would be able to gain control and straighten the course. But, alas, the load was so heavy, once it started an arc there was nothing to do but let the plane ground loop as easily as possible.”

“With the excessive weight, the landing gear on the right was wrenched free and gasoline sprayed from the drain-well. That there was no fire was surely the result of the generous good wishes which had come from all over the world. No one of the three of us on board was even shaken, a testimony to the safety of a modern metal plane such as mine.”

“In retrospect, I am thankful that the failure occurred where it did rather than in some isolated corner of the world far from help.”  “And I must say a good word for Fred Noonan and Harry Manning. They were both as game as could be. In fact, when the first when reached the plane and opened the cabin door, they found Fred Methodically folding up his charts. He said that when I flew again he was ready to go along” (Last Flight, 70-72).

From March – May, 1937 the Lockheed Electra was back in California being repaired.

Again, in Earhart’s words:

“Like broken bones which Nature knits slowly in her own special process, the injured parts of an airplane must be painstakingly restored.” There is no short cut to full usefulness in either case if perfect healing is desired. In addition to “healing,” a strengthening of certain members to withstand the excessive strain to which overloading subjects them was in order in my Electra. This meant some actual redesigning, another process which could not be hurried. As to the precious engines, they were already in the Pacific Airmotive shops at Burbank being thoroughly checked. After the plane and engines were together, some time would have to be allowed for testing.”

With the rebuilding of the plane in hand, our next task was to appraise the effect of delay upon our flying plans. We had picked mid-March as about the best time for the flight from standpoint of weather – so far as one could expect consistent “bests” on such a long route. Setting back the date three month would see seasons relentlessly progress. In some places progress would be with benefit to pilots, in others the reverse. Here rains began, there they abated, here winds were favorable, there monsoons and choking dust storms were due. So we set to studying again the weather maps of the world and consulting with meteorologists who knew the habits of fogs and rains with temperatures around the long equator.”

“The upshot of those consultations was that I decided to reverse the direction originally chosen for the flight. Earlier it had seemed that the advantage lay in passage to the west; at the later date the contrary appeared true. After all, for practical purposes and disregarding Mr. Einstein, the world measures the same distance from west to east, as east to west, on any given route”  (Last Flight, 75-76).

Stay tuned, as we relive Amelia Earhart’s Round-the-World Flight, in celebration of the 80th anniversary…

Sources:

Earhart, Amelia, and George Palmer Putnam. Last Flight. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937. Print.

MSF 450, Amelia Earhart at Purdue Collection, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Vertical Files, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Purdue Student Publishing Foundation, and Purdue University. The Purdue Exponent (1889). Print.

Editor’s Note: Writer Mary A. Sego is an archival assistant and processing specialist within Archives and Special Collections.

Remembering Amelia Earhart’s Round-the-World Flight: The 80th Anniversary of Her “Shining Adventure” (Part 1 of 2)

Eighty years ago Amelia Earhart attempted to become the first person to fly around the world at the longest distance, along the equator. She disappeared during this flight, and the mystery of what happened to Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and her Lockheed Electra airplane continues to fascinate and intrigue us. During that fateful summer of 1937, the Purdue Exponent student newspaper, with the co-operation of the New York Herald Tribune, kept readers updated on Earhart’s flight progress. In this post, we will relive her amazing 27,000-mile journey by sharing features from the Exponent, a first-hand account from one of Earhart’s friends, and handwritten notes that Earhart took to summarize each leg of her flight, which she subsequently shared with the news media and planned to compile into a book.

Letter to Amelia Earhart from President Elliott, thanking her for accepting the position at Purdue in the fall, dated June 4, 1935. MSP 9.

Amelia Earhart and Purdue’s paths first crossed in September 1934 when she addressed the fourth annual “Women and the Changing World” Conference sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune. Purdue President Edward Elliott was at the same conference to speak on “New Frontiers for Youth.” He stayed to listen to Earhart speak on aviation’s future and the role of women in its advancement. Elliott, intrigued by her speech, arranged to meet her and her husband, George Palmer Putnam. Elliott and Putnam hit it off. After they dined at the Coffee House Club in New York, Elliott got right to the point, letting Earhart know that he wanted her to work at Purdue, where she would be in a role to inspire Purdue’s approximately 800 women students to seize new opportunities in America’s changing society.

 

MSP 188, Collection of Amelia Earhart Related Materials, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

 

Elliott and Earhart sat down and worked out the details. Due to Earhart’s busy schedule, she could not be a full-time faculty member, but she would attempt to spend at least one month at the university during the school year as a careers consultant for women students. Purdue in turn would pay her a $2,000 salary (Boomhower, 38). Along with guiding women students toward new careers, she also served as a technical adviser in aeronautics to Purdue, which was, at that time, the only university in the country equipped with its own airport. The connection between Amelia Earhart and Purdue University had begun. It would later expand in ways they could not have imagined.

Vertical Files, Amelia Earhart.

Although she spent only a short amount of time at Purdue, Earhart’s ties to Purdue played a key role in securing the money and equipment necessary for attempting her round-the-world flight. On April 19, 1936 the university announced the establishment of the Amelia Earhart Fund for Aeronautical Research. With contributions totaling approximately $50,000 from J.K. Lilly, Sr. and David Ross, and later donations of cash and equipment from companies such as Bendix, Western Electric, Goodrich, and Goodyear, Earhart purchased her “flying laboratory,” a twin-motored Lockheed Electra 10E airplane that would allow her to attempt her greatest long-distance flight yet, to circumnavigate the globe.

 

Letter from Amelia Earhart to Edward Elliott acknowledging receipt of letters concerning her leave of absence from her position as Consultant in Careers for Women, and the use of the Purdue University Airport in connection with her flight, May 8, 1936. MSF 450.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purdue Research Foundation established the “Amelia Earhart Fund for Aeronautical Research” and Earhart purchased a new “flying laboratory,” April 21, 1936.

Purdue Exponent, April 21, 1936

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Financial statement in regard to Lockheed and flight expenses, provided by George Palmer Putnam to President Elliott, September 26, 1936. MSF 450.

The plane was constructed at the Lockheed factory in Burbank, California, and included special features, such as extra gas tanks for long-distance flights, automatic pilot, deicing equipment, a radio homing device, and a two-way radio.

Close-up view of Amelia Earhart standing in the cockpit and looking over plans prior to finished construction on her Lockheed Electra plane, Burbank, California. MSP 9.

Vertical Files, Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart sitting atop her Lockheed Electra plane with group of Purdue students, September 20, 1936. MSF 450.

Preparing for the world flight was a huge undertaking. During preparations, Earhart was asked numerous times why she decided to attempt this flight. Her answer was always “because I want to.” She called the trip a “shining adventure, beckoning with new experiences, adding knowledge of flying, of peoples, of myself” (Boomhower 41).  She also noted that with the flight behind her, she would become more useful to herself and to the aeronautical program at Purdue (Earhart, Last Flight 55). She called the Electra her “flying laboratory” because her intent was to use the plane to conduct research on the effects of long-distance flying on pilots . Once the flight was accomplished, the plane would be returned to Purdue where it would be used to further pure and applied scientific research in aeronautics. Royalties from the book Earhart planned to write about her flight would also support this research.

Bo McNeeley, Earhart’s mechanic, Amelia Earhart, and Captain L.I. Aretz inspecting the Lockheed Electra plane at the Purdue University Airport, circa 1936. MSF 450.

Earhart was to attempt her world flight twice. Originally, her flight team included Fred Noonan and Harry Manning. The original plans were for Noonan to navigate from Hawaii to Howland Island, a particularly difficult portion of the flight; then Harry Manning would continue with Earhart to Australia and she would proceed on her own for the remainder of the project.

As Earhart prepared for her world flight, anticipation continued to grow both on campus and in the minds of the public. Americans wanted to keep up to date on the progress of Earhart’s latest adventure. Purdue students claimed her as one of their own, and waited anxiously to hear of her progress.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan with map of the Pacific showing the route for their world flight, circa 1937. MSP 9.

Earhart is ready for flight, March 11, 1937.

Purdue Exponent, March 11, 1937, p. 1, c. 2-3

Earhart is ready for flight, March 11, 1937. MSP 9.

                                            

 To be continued…                            

Sources:

Boomhower, R. “Amelia Earhart at Purdue: The aviatrix and the university.” Traces, Summer (1994): 36-41.

Earhart, Amelia, and George Palmer Putnam. Last Flight. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937. Print.

MSF 450, Amelia Earhart at Purdue Collection, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

MSP 188, Collection of Amelia Earhart Related Materials, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Vertical Files, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Purdue Student Publishing Foundation, and Purdue University. The Purdue Exponent (1889). Print.

Editor’s Note: Writer Mary A. Sego is an archival assistant and processing specialist within Archives and Special Collections.

Looking Down, Looking Out, and Looking Up: Maps and the Human Experience

The latest exhibit in Archives and Special Collections explores the history, art, and science of maps and their interaction with the people who create and use them. “Looking Down, Looking Out, and Looking Up: Maps and the Human Experience” will be open until June 23, 2017, in the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.  Populated entirely with maps from our collections, this exhibit highlights the wide variety of uses and styles of maps and their applications in many aspects of modern society.  This blog post will highlight just a few of the maps and artifacts in the exhibit.

 

Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca

Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca…by John Harris

One of the earliest items on display is a large volume published in 1744, Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca. Or, a Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels… by John Harris, a compilation of travel notes and discoveries of more than 500 writers.  The text includes extensive analyses of geography, science, and culture.  The book, which is dedicated to King George II, also includes a world map in the front.  Especially notable is the “Parts Undiscovered” over the area now known as Alaska and the northwestern regions of Canada.

 

Wright's history notebook

John S. Wright’s history notebook, 1889, MSA 27

In 1889, Purdue student John S. Wright illustrated and colored historical maps to accompany his history class notes and assist him in his studies.  Multiple maps are pasted into this notebook, illustrating wars and political boundaries from the Ancient Roman Empire to nineteenth century Europe.  The notebook must have served Wright well; after graduating in 1892, he became an executive of the Eli Lilly Company.

 

A General History of Inland Navigation

Canal map from A General History of Inland Navigation… by J. Phillips

 

This foldout map shows extant and planned canals throughout England, designated by pink or green lines.  The map is part of A General History of Inland Navigation, Foreign and Domestic; Containing a Complete Account of the Canals Already Executed in England, with Considerations on Those Projected, by J. Phillips, published in 1792.

 

 

 

 

Wilmer Stultz flight plan

Wilmer Stultz flight plan, 1928, MSP 38

In 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.  The pilot of that flight was Wilmer Stultz, and this is his hand-notated map with extensive navigational notations and charting of multiple possible flight courses for that famous trip.  The exhibit also includes maps from the planning of Earhart’s final flight in 1937, during which she disappeared.

 

Cloth maps

Cloth maps used by Ralph Schneck, MSP 123

During World War II, cloth maps could be crucial to the survival of downed Army Air Force pilots.  These cloth maps were distributed to pilots and sometimes secretly passed into prisoner of war camps by concealment in books or games.  The maps in the exhibit belonged to Ralph Schneck, pilot in the 8th U.S. Air Force, and were carried in a waterproof bag marked “MAPS ONLY.”

 

 

Lunar surface maps

Lunar surface maps used by Captain Cernan, MSA 288

This book of lunar maps was used on the surface of the moon by Captain Gene Cernan during the Apollo 17 mission, the last human mission to the moon.  The book contains 24 segments of the Taurus-Littrow Valley along with a larger overview map of the valley.

 

map pins

Map pins owned by Lillian Gilbreth, MSP 8

Among the map-related items in the exhibit are these map pins owned and used by Lillian Gilbreth, Purdue professor and expert in efficiency and organizational management.  Pins like these were stuck into large wall maps for various purposes; the variety of colors and shapes allowed for the owner to create her own identification system using the pins.

 

You can see these items and many more in the exhibit, open until June 23, 2017.

1967 Rose Bowl, Purdue Astronauts and the Anticipation of the Moon

moon

January 2, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Purdue’s win against the University of Southern California in the 1967 Rose Bowl game. The theme for the 1967 Tournament of Roses parade was “Travel Tales in Flowers.”

Rose Bowl program from alum, Gary J. Glazer papers

Rose Bowl program from alum Gary J. Glazer papers

This comes as no surprise considering NASA’s success with the space program and its mission to land a man on the Moon, per mandate of recently slain President Kennedy. In 1967 the American public was waiting with bated breath to see NASA land an astronaut on the Moon. The Soviet Union had entered the race first with the successful launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957.  President Eisenhower reacted slowly, but eventually set the gears in motion to launch the United States’ first satellite, Explorer 1, four months later on February 1, 1958.

pamphlet

Pamphlet distributed to nation-wide outlets hailing the achievements of Purdue, from Purdue University Athletics Collection.

In anticipation of the Rose Bowl game and the guaranteed national media coverage, the Purdue University News Service created promotional documentation that they sent to newspapers, radio stations, and television stations all over the country so that they could accurately tell news stories about Purdue.  These news bulletins documented information about the school ranging from the official colors, mascot, and famous alumni to different education programs. Also included were photographs, the float that the students created for the parade, and stories about the astronaut alumni anxiously awaiting their ride to the Moon. One bulletin boasts “Purdue University had aviation ‘in its blood’ before it had Rose Bowl fever.”  This bulletin goes on to celebrate the pioneering history of Purdue aviation by telling of early years of the airport and the connection the university has with Amelia Earhart.  Another bulletin titled “Purdue Astronauts on Moon, Natural as Apple Pie,” opens with the eerie prediction, “It would be hard to imagine reaching the moon without a piece of Purdue going along.”  The bulletin continues talking about how there is as much anticipation for the Apollo mission as there is the Rose Bowl.

float

“A Purdue tribute to the heroism of her men” 1967 Debris, p. 549.

The float that Purdue students constructed for the 1967 Tournament of Roses parade honored four of their own Purdue alumni astronauts at the time of the game. The float depicts a Gemini capsule and the names of the four current Purdue astronauts: Armstrong, Cernan, Chaffee, and Grissom, along with the caption, “Alma Mater of Astronauts.”

Footage of 1967 Tournament of Roses Parade Courtesy of Purdue University Athletic Department

 

armstrong

Above is Armstrong’s Debris yearbook photo from 1954. He is second from the left.

Neil A. Armstrong

At the time of the Rose Bowl, Neil Armstrong had already completed the Gemini 8 mission. The significance of this mission was the successful rendezvous and docking with another spacecraft.

Finding Aid for the Neil A. Armstrong papers

Gene Cernan

cernan

Above, third from the left, Cernan is pictured here in his 1956 Purdue Debris yearbook photo.

By 1967 Gene Cernan had completed the Gemini 9A mission. Lasting from June 3 to June 6, 1966, NASA planned for Cernan to complete a spacewalk, strap into the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), and perform tasks while rendezvousing with an Agena Target Vehicle. This task was not easily completed. Cernan struggled tremendously moving about while spacewalking. His suit became rigged, his visor fogged up, and there were not enough hand-holds and foot-holds on the craft for Cernan to steady himself. To make things worse, the Agena Target Vehicle failed to release its casing, making it impossible for Cernan to complete that part of the mission.

Finding Aid for the Eugene Cernan papers

grissom

Virgil “Gus” Grissom’s yearbook photo from the Purdue Debris 1950. Grissom is on the far right.

Gus Grissom

Gus Grissom was the first Purdue graduate that NASA chose to be an astronaut.  NASA selected Grissom as part of the Mercury 7.  This group of astronauts flew the single piloted Mercury missions.  NASA selected Grissom, along with Alan Sheppard and John Glenn, for the first Mercury flight.  Sheppard eventually received the seat on the first flight, but Grissom flew the second sub-orbital mission.

Virgil I. Grissom papers

Roger Chaffee

chaffee

Roger Chaffee’s yearbook photo from the 1957 Purdue Debris. He is first on the left.

At the time of the 1967 Rose Bowl, Roger Chaffee was a rookie. He had not yet completed any spaceflights but was the capsule communicator for the Gemini 4 mission. Chaffee graduated from Purdue in 1957 with Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. Chaffee was killed along with Gus Grissom and Ed White in the Apollo 1 fire.

Roger B. Chaffee letter and postcard

The 1967 Rose Bowl was the first time Purdue had ever been to a bowl game, and it was a special milestone to many. The astronauts were just as excited about the 1967 Rose Bowl as other fans. Memorabilia from the game can be found among various astronauts’ papers.

Ticket and Pamphlet from the Jerry L. Ross papers

Program and Ticket from the Jerry L. Ross papers

Jerry Ross was not yet an astronaut at the time of the 1967 Rose Bowl. He was a student at Purdue in his junior year and watched the game from the stands.  His ticket and program from the Rose Bowl are a part of his papers, which he donated to the Purdue Archives in 2012.

Jerry L. Ross papers

“For Purdue, it was enough that we were there playing in the Rose Bowl. We didn’t have to win it to be satisfied. I had many great football memories after that, but certainly, the 1967 Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of my collegiate career. I felt a great sense of responsibility and was real proud of what we did. Taking the fans and everyone to the Rose Bowl was the greatest highlight, for me. Just being out there, seeing all the people, going to the Christmas party, visiting Universal Studios, eating at Lowery’s. The overriding factor was that we were taking part in something no one else had. We were the first, and there’s something to be said for that.”   – Bob Griese, 2002

The overriding factor was that we were taking part in something no one else had. We were the first, and there’s something to be said for that.” The astronauts most likely felt the same about their mission to reach the Moon.

roseFootage of 1967 Rose Bowl Game:

debris

1967 Debris, page 558

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purdue football team gave Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee each a football signed by the 1967 Purdue Football team. The football pictured here was given to Armstrong. It is part of the Neil A. Armstrong papers, which reside in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center at Purdue.

MSA 5, Neil A. Armstrong papers, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSA 5, Neil A. Armstrong papers

Note that near the “Made in the U.S.A.” text on the football, below the laces, is the signature of star quarterback and Purdue football legend, Bob Griese.

Note that near the “Made in the U.S.A.” text on the football, below the laces, is the signature of star quarterback and Purdue football legend Bob Griese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

champsThis football game represents a moment in the history of the Space Age filled with anticipation. Both the American public and NASA knew that the impending goal of landing a man on the Moon crept ever closer each day. As 1966 came to a close, so did the Gemini series of missions. These missions set the groundwork for the Apollo missions that lay ahead. Gemini proved that astronauts could stay in space for long periods of time and survive a lengthy three-day trip to the Moon. It also proved that spacecraft could be piloted and controlled in space. The Gemini spacecraft was the first spacecraft to have controls similar to an aircraft. The astronauts were able to adapt more easily than the mostly autonomous controls of the Mercury capsule. Living and working in space, rendezvous and docking, and long duration spaceflights became possible due to Gemini.pennant

1967 meant more than a new year and first time opportunities for the participants and attendees at the Rose Bowl.  It meant the beginning of a new era in space travel.  An era when astronauts went somewhere other than Earth’s orbit, it meant succeeding in trumping the Soviet Union’s Space program once and for all, and finally it meant completing President Kennedy’s grand goal that he set during his tragically cut short presidency. The Moon was within reach.

Visit this page for a history of Purdue’s college football bowl appearances.

Co-authored by Mary A. Sego, Archives Processing Assistant, and Max Campbell, former Graduate Assistant, Purdue University Libraries Archives and Special Collections.

Bailey Hall and Purdue’s Musical Myth

Editor’s Note: The Purdue University Buildings Project is an ongoing effort to document and describe every building that has ever existed at Purdue.  From time to time, we will highlight buildings on campus and the research taking place to document their histories.  For a more detailed description of the Project, see Part I, “Beginning the Research Process, Challenges, and Unfolding Histories.”

Through the Buildings Project, The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center is trying to collect the history of all of the past buildings on campus up to the present. I currently work on gathering the information about the buildings on campus that have been built in the 21st century. These buildings are particularly interesting because of the similarities and differences the physical structures have with older buildings, as well as the donors, dedications, and other aspects of adding a new addition to campus that have changed over the years. I have recently worked on buildings such as The Fred and Mary Ford Dining Court, Krach Leadership Center, Marriott Hall, and Bill and Sally Hanley Hall. I find the information on these buildings through our physical archives as well as archives materials that have been digitized.

Bailey Hall

Bailey Hall

Although the classic Purdue myth made up by students and alumni states that it was John Purdue’s request to not have a music major at Purdue University, the Purdue Musical Organization (PMO) has still managed to surface on campus. I know you’re thinking that this defiance of John Purdue’s wishes is definitely fake, but I promise not having a music major really is a myth. Plus, the PMO was inevitable due to all of the successful musical organizations on campus throughout its history. Technically, no supposed requests have been broken here because music majors are still not an option at Purdue. Almost 80 years after PMO’s founding, its six choral ensembles and one hand bell choir are very successful and continue to grow. Several of the groups have been broadcast on television and radio networks. According to the PMO website, through more than 100 performances each year and over $300,000 in scholarships annually, the PMO has shown how important creativity and hard work really are. Performances like their Christmas Show and Fall Show are annual favorites among attendees. Certain performances are even a tradition for many families.

Ralph and Bettye Bailey at the October 11th dedication.

Ralph and Bettye Bailey at the October 11th dedication.

The Ralph and Bettye Bailey Hall, completed in 2014, is the home for the Purdue Musical Organizations. It features large and small rehearsal rooms, a student lounge and study area named for PMO founder Albert P. Stewart, a music library, and environmentally controlled storage space. Ralph and Bettye Holder Bailey donated $4.5 million of the $7.6 million raised for the building. The Baileys, who reside in Connecticut, have been longtime fans of the PMO. Ralph graduated in 1949 with a degree in mechanical engineering. The couple also established the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Professorship of Combustion in Mechanical Engineering and the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Purdue Merit Scholarship.

The private dedication ceremony for Bailey Hall was held on October 10, 2014, and the public open house was held on October 11, 2014, according to the Purdue University News Service.

Editor’s Note: Erin Hamilton is a junior in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She has worked at the archives for a little over 4 months.