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The mission of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections “is to support the discovery, learning, and engagement goals of Purdue University by identifying, collecting, preserving, and making available for research records and papers of enduring value created or received by the University and its employees.”

In more ways than one, the mission of the Archives and the university press are a perfect fit, and our work can come together to create something of unique value to the University.

The research for many Purdue University Press projects has started in the archives, including the two books published for Purdue’s 150th anniversary celebration, Ever True: 150 Year’s of Giant Leaps at Purdue University by John Norberg and Purdue at 150: A Visual History by David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris.

“The Purdue Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center is a portal through which the past speaks to us, where people long gone reach out to tell us who they were, how they lived, what they thought, and what they did,” says John Norberg, author of Ever True, “among the roles of a university are creating the future while preserving the past. We can’t know what the future holds. But the past comes back to life at the archives.”

Here’s more about some of our recent titles that are sourced heavily or entirely through the archives:



Purdue At 150: A Visual History of Student Life

by David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris


This book tells Purdue’s story through rare images, artifacts, and words.

Authors, who have all worked for Purdue University, culled decades of student papers, from scrapbooks, yearbooks, letters, and newspapers to historical photographs and memorabilia preserved in the Purdue University Libraries Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections. Many of the images and artifacts included have never been published, presenting a unique history of Purdue University from the student perspective.

Read more about the process of research and writing this book in an interview with the authors.


Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University

by John Norberg


In this volume, Norberg takes readers beyond the iconic redbrick walls of Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus to delve into the stories of the faculty, alumni, and leaders who make up this remarkable institution’s distinguished history. Written to commemorate Purdue University’s sesquicentennial celebrations, Ever True picks up where prior histories leave off, bringing the intricacies of historic tales to the forefront, updating the Purdue story to the present, and looking to the future.

“In working on Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University and other books, I spent many long hours in the archives. I was able to look at the material available online and request what I wanted to see. I sat at a table and the always very helpful archivists brought boxes to me. I opened the boxes and found letters, speeches, diaries and much more. History is the stories of people and in the Purdue Archives people came back to life, sat beside me and told me their victories and tragedies, joys and sorrows.”


Dear Neil Armstrong: Letters to the First Man from All Mankind

by James R. Hansen


Today, some 75,000 of them letters to and from Neil Armstrong are preserved in the archives at Purdue University. This book publishes a careful sampling of these letters—roughly 400—reflecting the various kinds of correspondence that Armstrong received along with representative samples of his replies.

“There’s always more to know, to learn, to discover. For First Man, I did not have total access to Neil’s correspondence. For the past four or five years I did have access, in the Purdue Archives, and, as a result, I have a lot more to share with the world about Armstrong.”

Read the full interview with Hansen.


Memories of Life on the Farm: Through the Lens of Pioneer Photographer J. C. Allen

Frederick Whitford and Neal Harmeyer


This volume contains over 900 picturesque images, most never-before-seen, of men, women, and children working on the farm at the turn of the twentieth century, many of which come from the J.C. Allen and Sons Inc. Photographs and Negatives Collection in the archives.

John Calvin Allen, known as J.C., worked as a photographer for Purdue from 1909-1952, and operated his own photography business until his death in 1976.




You can get 30% all Purdue University Press titles by ordering from our website and using the discount code PURDUE30.