Herman Murray: Breaking the Color Barrier for Purdue Football

In 1948, Herman Murray began playing for the freshman football squad at Purdue. According to the student newspaper, Murray stood out as a player in a game between the “frosh” team and the “B eleven,” when he pounced on a fumble and helped turn the tide in favor of his team (Exponent November 13, 1948). Murray joined Purdue’s “B Team” (similar to a junior varsity squad) as a tackle in 1949. Jim Smith, writing for the student newspaper, pointed out the significance of Murray’s place on the team: “Here’s hoping that the plucky Murray can help the varsity and here’s also hat’s off to the athletic department for helping to break down racial prejudice at Purdue” (Exponent, February 23, 1949).

Herman Murray, shown in the center of this photo of residents of the International House at Purdue. Debris 1949.

Murray’s athletic skills were not lost on Purdue coaches or students.  The following year he became the first African American student to play in an official varsity football game when he played in the November 11, 1950 game against Northwestern at Ross-Ade Stadium (Exponent, November 14, 1950). Students in the crowd enthusiastically chanted his name from the stands.  The student newspaper pointed out the hard work and persistence on Murray’s part that led to this important moment in Purdue history, writing that although Murray “played but a few minutes he deserves mention for his long road up. Big Herman Murray finally got his chance to appear in a ball game and he has really worked for that chance. Herm has been plugging away for the past two years serving as bait for the varsity and doing his bit in the “B” games. A good example of what determination can do.” (Exponent, November 14, 1950).

Murray is shown in back row, #99. Debris 1950

Murray was born in Indianapolis on January 2, 1930. He graduated from the Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis (1948), where he served as captain of his football squad and was named most valuable player. Murray entered Purdue University in 1948, graduating in 1952 with a BS degree in Science. For at least some of his years at Purdue he lived in the International House on Salisbury Street.

Herman Murray, Boilermaker tackle, circa 1948-1952.

Following graduation, Murray served for over twenty years with the U.S. Navy as a doctor of dentistry. He also worked for Arco Durethene Plastics and Arco Chemicals. Following retirement, Murray drove a school bus for special needs children in Long Beach, California. He passed away on August 2, 2017 (Source: Obituary, Serenity Funeral Services, 2017).

The archives staff recently learned of Murray’s passing and we wish to respectfully express our condolences to his family. 

Purdue and India, Part 2: The Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur

Editors Note: This is part 2 of a series about the connections between Purdue and India.  See part 1, about the first Indian students at Purdue, here.

Program booklet, Box 2, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur records

Purdue forged new connections with India in the 1960s, collaborating in the planning and expansion of educational programs at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. The IIT, a government funded educational institution, was founded in 1959. Starting in 1962, IIT participated in the Kanpur Indo-American Program, which provided technical assistance from nine U.S. institutions (including Purdue) to develop strong engineering programs, enhance instruction, and research.

In a document titled, “The P.K. Kelkar Library: The first ten years and the collaboration with the Purdue University Libraries,” former Purdue Librarian Professor Richard Funkhouser explained the background for the development of the Institute, “…the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur (IIR/K) was a joint project of the Government of India and the United States Agency for International Development (U.S. A.I.D.). The aim was to build a world-recognized, doctoral degree granting, research university of the highest quality.”

Bulletin, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Course of Study, 1966-1967

In addition to Purdue, eight other United States universities collaborated on this effort: University of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology, the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon), Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, Ohio State, and Princeton University. All of these universities were, and still are, well known for the excellent science and engineering programs they provide. These universities also provided visiting faculty and support staff to serve as advisors.

According to notes kept by Funkhouser, “The Purdue Libraries had a unique role in the development of the Institute’s library, especially the collection. Four Purdue Librarians had active participation in the project. George Meluch and I each spent two years there and Robert Cain spent 18 months there, Oliver Dunn the Libraries Associate Director, was the Purdue Libraries liaison for the project and spent several weeks each in 1962, 1964, 1966 and 1968 at the Institute gathering data and writing the original development plan, reviewing progress and updating the plan.”

Program Description

A valuable resource on the history of Purdue’s collaboration in this effort is the collection of records on the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, part of the Purdue Archives and Special Collections. The collection was assembled by employees of the Purdue Libraries who helped build the new library at the IIT Kanpur. The records focus primarily on the books that were purchased and new procedures established for library staff. They also include documents on the early years of the IIT Kanpur, such as early reports, course bulletins, newsletters, and brochures. These records provide insight into the development of IIT Kanpur and the roles Purdue University and other university employees from U.S. institutions played in contributing to the developing infrastructure of the new institute.

Although participation in the Kanpur Indo-American Program ended in 1972, Purdue continues to work closely with the Indian Institute of Technology system. In 2015, President Mitch Daniels signed a memo of understanding with Uday B. Desai, director of the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. The goal of this agreement was to strengthen and expand contacts between the two universities, with Purdue partnering on innovative approaches to course content and delivery. The agreement also included plans for faculty and student exchange and collaborative research and education programs.

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

References

MSP 152, Purdue University International Students collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSF 462, Richard L. Funkhouser book chapter, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections

Vertical File, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Purdue, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad to expand educational, research collaborations, Purdue Today, May 5, 2015. https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/purduetoday/releases/2015/Q2/purdue,-indian-institute-of-technology-hyderabad-to-expand-educational,-research-collaborations.html

Purdue and India, Part 1: The First Indian Students at Purdue

Editors Note: The materials in this post are presented as they were originally created. In some cases, outdated terms and phrases were used that may be offensive today, but they are presented here unedited so that the context of the difficulties faced by international students may be understood.  Please click on images for better view.

In Recognition of the World at Purdue’s Doorstep 1887 – 1955

Students have traveled from India to study at Purdue since the early 1900s. In this post, we highlight those early Purdue students from India.

A university publication titled “In Recognition of the World at Purdue’s Doorstep 1887 – 1955” identifies two students who were likely the first to come from India to study at Purdue. Those men were Amar Nath Bery of Kashmir and Ram Lal Bery of Lahore.

Ram Lal Bery, 1905 Debris

Ram Lal Bery (BSME, 1905) appeared as a senior in the Purdue yearbook, The Debris. After graduation, he returned to Indiana and became Principal of the Hindu Diamond Technical Institute.

Amar Nath Bery (BSEE, 1905) graduated the same year as Ram Lal Bery but does not appear in the Debris. He later became Secretary of the Public Works Department, Jammu and Kashmir. 

 

1905 Debris

The Debris yearbook includes other students from India in subsequent years. The next student from India was Albert Norton. As noted in the necrology, Norton passed away on October 6, 1906.  H.D. Wohra  (Class of 1913) appears in the Debris as a member of the Cosmopolitan Club/Corda Fratres, but he is not pictured with the other seniors in the 1913 yearbook.

Birendra Nath Das Gupta, 1914 Debris

Narendra Nath Sen, 1914 Debris

The next student from India known to graduate from Purdue was Birendra Nath Das Gupta (BSEE, 1914). As stated below his photo, Das Gupta came from India in October 1911, and he spent his first year at Wisconsin. He then came to Purdue and was able to complete his studies in three years.

Also among the Class of 1914 was Narendra Nath Sen.  Like Gupta, Sen first spent a year at the University of Wisconsin before transferring to Purdue. He planned to continue his education with advanced degrees in engineering after earning his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Purdue Exponent, September 24, 1921

1922 Debris, p. 385

The 1920s saw another group of students coming to Purdue from India. Per an Exponent article from 1921, six students from India made their way to Purdue and faced unique challenges. Those students also formed the Purdue Hindusthan Association, a local chapter of a national organization to support students from India as they represent their culture in America.

Three of the men featured in the Exponent article appear in the Debris:

 

 

Kameshwar Nath Kathju, 1922 Debris

 

Kameshwar Nath Kathju (BS, 1922) of Bikaner, who was a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute of London

 

 

Syed Habibuddin Ahmed, 1923 Debris

1923 Debris

 

Syed Habibuddin Ahmed (BSEE, 1923) of Burhanpur

 

 

Gyan Chand Sharma, 1924 Debris

1924 Debris

 

Gyan Chand Sharma (BSEE, 1924) of Lahore, who played a key role in organizing the Foreign Students’ Union, a club that provided support for other international students.

Purdue Exponent, October 4, 1923

Many of the students gave presentations on campus, supported other international students, and provided insight into what it meant to travel across the globe to study at a university far from home.

Per statistics gathered for 1941-1942, there were no students from India at Purdue, but by 1946 the Lafayette Journal and Courier reported that there were ten students from India at Purdue that year.

MSP 152, Box 2, Folder 3, Purdue University International Students collection

As the years went by, outreach efforts resulted in increases to the number of International students attending Purdue. As International alumni spread the word about the value of their Purdue educations, the number of international students continued to rise.

A letter home to students in India

Purdue at India, Call # LD4767.2 .I523

In 1963, students published the “India at Purdue” newsletter. This short-lived publication focused on news and events in India for those who were far from home. The quotation on the cover states “In diversity we strive for unity.”

By 1963 there were 120 students from India enrolled at Purdue and that number has continued to grow ever since. Today, more than 2,000 students from India attend Purdue and Purdue Indian students are integral contributors to celebrations of diversity and multiculturalism on campus.

Our next post, Purdue and India, Part 2, focuses on Purdue’s collaborative efforts to establish the Indian Institute of Technology.

 

 

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

References

MSP 152, Purdue University International Students collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Purdue University. Senior Class. (1889). Debris.

Purdue University. (1961). Alumni directory, 1875-1961, Purdue University. Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue Alumni Association.

Purdue University. India Students Association. (n.d.). India at Purdue.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections

Vertical File, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Kassandra Agee Chandler Broke Barriers as Purdue’s first African American Homecoming Queen

Kassandra “Katie” Agee Chandler was born to a blue-collar family from Gary, Indiana. She originally aspired to attend an out of state college following high school graduation. This plan was disrupted when she was contacted by Dr. Cornell Bell of Purdue University. Bell discovered Kassandra Agee during her senior year of high school and persisted in efforts to recruit her for the Business Opportunity Program (BOP) at Purdue, despite Kassandra’s initial desire to live out of state.

Business Opportunity Program pamphlets

Through the BOP, Dr. Bell brought bright and promising students to enroll in the Krannert Business School. The initiative was started after Bell observed that Krannert and other business schools were historically lacking in diversity, which contributed to an overall lack of diversity in the profession of business.

Business Opportunity Program group photo

After entering the program, students like Agee received mentorship, tutoring, and a sense of family and belonging at Purdue. Kassandra entered the program in the fall of 1977 and graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Purdue.

Kassandra Agee Chandler at Homecoming

As a sophomore in the fall of 1978, Agee was elected Purdue’s Homecoming Queen, the first and, to date, only African American Homecoming Queen in Purdue’s history. As a representative of Meredith Residence Halls, she competed against 23 other competitors to win her title.

Newspaper clippings

When reflecting later upon the nomination and campaign experience, Kassandra remembered being told, “They’ll never let you win this.” But she drew upon the strength of her faith, family, friends, and dorm-mates, as well as her own tenacity.

She worked tirelessly on her campaign, going door-to-door, speaking with groups across campus, and hanging campaign posters.

Homecoming campaign materials

She remembered, “I didn’t let it get to me. I never let anyone talk me down…. In the end, I was able to make my family and sisterhood proud…I felt like Cinderella…it was all a collective effort of sisterhood, of campus-hood, of brotherhood.”

Congratulations notes

After winning, Agee received local and national press, as well as campus and community wide support. Along with the many press releases, newspaper clippings, and congratulatory notes, she was invited to appear in the Rose Bowl Parade alongside the Homecoming Queens from the other Big 10 Universities. As she later said, “I’m a blue collar daughter but I was queen on the campus of Purdue. In sharing my story of what is possible during the most improbable and seemingly impossible time, I hope [to] inspire.”

Rose Bowl materials

In addition to her role as Homecoming Queen and a leader for African American students on campus, Agee was also active in extracurricular activities. She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honor society, Purdue Pals, and the Black Voices of Inspiration Choir. Agee was also a president and founding member of Purdue’s Society of Minority Managers. She served as a social counselor for the Business Opportunity Program and was a member of the Mortar Board senior honors society.

Mortar Board

Her involvement in student activities reflected her leadership role on campus, as well as her excellent academic record.

After graduating from the Krannert School of Management, Agee held positions at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Exxon, Dow Chemical and Procter & Gamble.

Agee Chandler speaking at podium

In the years since her graduation, she has frequently returned to campus to give presentations on topics ranging from her work in the business world to her experiences as homecoming queen. After years of professional experience working for industry leaders in both the public and private sector, she founded Systematic Design Consultants, where she is the principal consultant. The company is an information technology consulting firm located in Texas.

Cornell Bell letter

Agee is also a founding member of the Business Opportunity Program Alumni Network, which seeks to further the legacy of Dr. Cornell Bell and ensure the continued success of the BOP. The Network engages in fundraising, advising, and seeks to provide a support network for BOP alumni by keeping them connected while providing opportunities that will ensure their continued success in the professional business world.

Kassandra Agee Chandler returns to her alma mater this year to serve as grand marshal of the Boilermaker Night Train Homecoming Parade on September 21. This homecoming is particularly special, as Purdue officially launches the start of its sesquicentennial celebrations from fall 2018 through fall 2019.

The Black Cultural Center is offering a display of historical photographs and related items on Kassandra Agee Chandler, on the 2nd floor near the library, through the end of October. We hope you will join us in celebrating Kassandra’s rich life and legacy — at Purdue, and beyond.

Sources:

MSA 363, Kassandra Agee Chandler papers, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, Indiana

Chandler, Kassandra Agee. “My Pieces of History: A Queen’s Journey to Archival Peace (and Release).” 6 February, 2018, Krannert Auditorium, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Written by Virginia Pleasant. All images from the Kassandra Agee Chandler papers.

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.

 

 1940s-50s, Purdue Athletics

As mentioned previously, Purdue athletic teams remained segregated until at least 1947. The pages of the Debris yearbook rarely mention black student athletes before 1950. According to Athletics sources, the first African American students to join the Purdue football team were Herman Murray and Lively Bryant, both in 1949. The Purdue student newspaper reported that Herman Murray played in practice games of the “B Team” against the freshmen as early as November 1948 (Exponent, November 13, 1948). Murray became the first African American Boilermaker to play in an official football game when Purdue played Northwestern at Ross Ade Stadium on November 11, 1950. The 1950 Debris yearbook shows Herman Murray in the team photograph for the Football “B” team. Murray, a tackle, received his varsity letter in 1951.

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. Post updated 7/29/19 with additional source information about Herman Murray, by Sammie Morris.

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):

Photo taken by Mary Sego

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.