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Amelia EarhartOver the past few years, the efforts of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Women’s Archives have allowed Archives and Special Collections (ASC) to take in intriguing collections pertaining to female aviators at Purdue. Archives and Special Collections’ newest exhibit, “Soaring to New Heights, Women in Aviation at Purdue” highlights these aviators. The exhibit runs June 11-August 31 at the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, located on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Science and Education Library in Stewart Center.

As to be expected, the exhibit contains treasures from the George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart materials, including Earhart’s helmet, ice pick (for opening cans of tomato juice on which she sustained during long flights) and the “Questionnaire for Women Students,” in which Earhart raises provocative questions about men’s roles in the home during that period.

Alongside  Earhart, there are many women who share in Purdue’s aviation history, but few know of their accomplishments. These women include:

-Virginia Smith Peck, who’s photo has been on display in other exhibits because of her mountain-climbing abilities. As it turns out, she had a penchant for flying as well.

-Curtiss Wright Cadettes, a group of 83 young women employed by Curtiss Wright Corporation came to Purdue in 1943 to study aeronautical engineering at Purdue in order help fill the depleted ranks of engineers and draftspersons during World War Two.

-Janice Voss, NASA astronaut and Purdue alumna.

-Roberta Gleiter, who’s papers document her life and career. She was one of the few women to graduate from the School of Chemical Engineering in 1960, recipient of an Outstanding Chemical Engineer Award from Purdue and advocate for women in Engineering. After taking some time off to raise her family, she launched her career with the Aerospace Corporation.

-Purdue President France Cordova, former Chief Scientist at NASA.

-Annie Smith Peck, a Latin and elocution professor at Purdue from 1881 until 1883 who was widely known for her mountain climbing abilities, but also as an advocate and spokesperson for aviation in its early days.

Make sure to stop by ASC before August 31, to explore our rich aviation history at Purdue.

Contact: Stephanie Schmitz, (765) 494-2904; sschmit@purdue.edu

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