Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

From the Archives: At the Beginning

April 22nd, 2018

For our final From the Archives photo this semester, we look way, way back to the Archives’ oldest photo of campus.  Where is this?  Can you identify any of the buildings?  When would this have been taken? Share your ideas in the comments and check back on Friday to learn the details about this photo.



This early view of Purdue was captured in 1876, only two years after Purdue first offered classes.

The buildings are, from left to right:

  • Ladies Hall, which served as a residence for faculty members and their families before becoming the home of art classes and residence for female students
  • Building Number 2, later known as the Pharmacy Building, which was the first classroom building on campus
  • The Gas and Boiler House, which kept campus running
  • A barn
  • Men’s Dormitory, which was later turned into a classroom building known as Purdue Hall
  • Military Hall and Gymnasium

Just visible in the middle of the picture is the construction site that would become University Hall, which opened the following year.  University Hall became the oldest building still standing on campus when Purdue Hall was demolished in 1960.

Many photos of campus were taken from this exact angle over the years, but this is the only one that does not yet have University Hall in the center.

Purdue in 1891

Purdue in 1891

Purdue in 2005

Purdue in 2005

Thank you to everyone who has joined us for this series of mystery photos.  We will have many more exciting highlights from the Archives to share during Purdue’s sesquicentennial celebrations beginning this fall!