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Throughout the history of Purdue, its students have created and participated in many long-running traditions. What tradition is shown in this photo, and where did this activity occur?


On May 1, 1913, Purdue held its first May Day festivities as part of Gala Week, a celebration of spring and the end of the academic year.  Young female students and children from the community wore sandals and white dresses as they danced for crowds on the Oval, the open area of campus now known as Memorial Mall.  The May Day performances emphasized the arrival of springtime, so most included elaborate floral arrangements and may poles.  Here are a few more views of the 1913 festivities:

May Day celebrations occurred annually at Purdue until the 1920s, but Gala Week lived on until the 21st century.

Congratulations to all who figured out what was happening in the picture!  Check back for our next From the Archives photo on May 8!

9 Responses to “From the Archives Photo Challenge Part 3”

  1. Shelly

    May Day

  2. Tom Brown

    Founders’ Day

  3. Suzanne

    May Day celebration.

  4. Mark Simons

    Has to be May Day. I see the May Poles in the back. Makes me want to dance around the May Pole to welcome Spring!

  5. Ron

    Definitely occurring in May. You can see the May Poles. Location is on Memorial Mall.

  6. Jack

    Back home we call this May Fete and it celebrates the purity of young women. It is also an opportunity to showcase eligible young ladies to the community. At home the high school hosts the event and senior girls are elected to a May Fete Court. They are typically voted on for personality rather than popularity. The underclassmen then do a series of dances in their honor and a May Fete Queen is crowned.

  7. Kaletra Dispennett

    This is May Day! I see the pole with ribbons on it in the background. Having a hard time placing where this is but looks like Hetrick Lab (location of the current Soil Lab in Agriculture campus) in the background.

  8. Ellen Rantz

    Dancing around the May Day pole

  9. Kris

    May Day celebration!

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