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Posts tagged ‘From the Archives’

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!

In this photograph, we see an important part of campus that has moved many times during its existence, housed in a building that is still standing today.  Can you identify this space and where it was located?  When was this image captured?  What details stand out to you?  Share your ideas in the comments and we will reveal the story behind the image on Friday.


University Hall was built in the center of campus in 1877, and in the center of University Hall stood the library. In this image, captured on October 21, 1899, we see the library with its grand central staircase, busts and artwork on the walls, banners celebrating class victories during Field Day each year, the librarian’s desk in the middle of the room, display cabinets for artifacts, and bookshelves on the second floor.  The library eventually outgrew this space and moved in 1913 to its own building, which is now part of Stewart Center.

The image below shows an art exhibit in the University Hall Library in 1896.

Art exhibit, 1896

Please join us again on Monday, April 23, for our next From the Archives mystery photo.

Spring is here, which means warmer weather and baseball season!  Baseball has always been a popular activity at Purdue.  Can you identify the location of this baseball game?  When was it?  How many landmarks can you identify in the background?  Share your theories in the comments and check back on Friday for the full story!


Stuart Field hosted most of Purdue’s outdoor activities from its creation in the 1890s until the construction of Ross-Ade Stadium in 1924.  Everything from football and baseball games to ROTC drills and marching band parades took place on the field.  At the time of its creation, Stuart Field’s location just east of the Armory was the northern edge of campus.  Today, the Elliott Hall of Music occupies much of Stuart Field’s former footprint and a plaque commemorates the location of this early Purdue landmark.

Additional views of Stuart Field provide a glimpse of the area surrounding campus:

Marching Band on Stuart Field, 1911

Seniors follow the Marching Band across Stuart Field, 1911.  Michael Golden Labs are visible in the background.

A Game of Push Ball on Stuart Field, 1919

A game of push ball, 1919

From the Archives: Paperwork

March 11th, 2018

In this image, many people have gathered to complete an important task that is a regular part of every student’s college experience.  What are they doing?  How was it organized?  Where is this? Share your ideas in the comments and check back on Thursday for the full story!


For a large portion of Purdue’s history, course registration took place not on a computer or in a registrar’s office but in a large room alongside hundreds of potential classmates.  Beginning in 1926, registration took place in the Armory, where each of Purdue’s thousands of students arrived to sign up for classes at an assigned time during a three-day registration period.  Each department had its own table, identified by signs on tall stands, where students could ask questions and enroll in their preferred class sections.  After signing up for all their classes, students proceeded to a bursar’s table to pay their fees and finally to the registrar for schedule approval, all in one place.  The process changed slightly from year to year.  This large-scale registration event disappeared in the 1960s with the introduction of computer-based enrollment through the Registrar’s Office.

This image shows registration in the Armory, circa 1930s, with a large schedule board listing class sections along the back wall.  Below is a closer view of the schedule board being examined by President Frederick Hovde.

Join us again on March 26 for the next image From the Archives!

Purdue students have always enjoyed hands-on activities as part of their coursework, gaining real world experience as they prepare for their future careers.  What course of study are these students following?  What are they doing?  Where are they?  Share your ideas in the comments and check back on Friday for the reveal!


These Dairy Production students are working in the Purdue Creamery in Agriculture Hall, which still exists today as Pfendler Hall.  In Purdue’s fully functioning dairy operation, College of Agriculture students gained practical experience making cheese, butter, and ice cream.  In this image, circa 1911, they are making and packaging butter, which was later sold to the public under the Purdue University Creamery label.  The dairy moved to Smith Hall when it opened in 1913 and continued selling dairy products to the public until 1969.

butter box

A butter box from the Purdue University Creamery


Join us on March 12 for the next From the Archives mystery photo.

From the Archives: A Campus House

February 11th, 2018

Many buildings have housed Purdue’s departments and organizations.  Those that are gone often played an important role in the foundation and growth of programs that still exist on campus today.  Do you know what organization was based in this structure?  How long was this building its home?  Where was it located?  Share your ideas in the comments and we’ll reveal the story behind this image on Friday.


The Black Cultural Center (BCC) was established in 1969 and moved into its first home, this house at 315 University Street, in late 1970.  At that time, coordinator of black student programs Dr. Singer A. Buchanan said the BCC would be a place “where anyone feels welcome to come in for discussions, readings, social events – or to just sit down and talk for a while.  If people…can get to know a bit more about each other it will go a long way toward mutual understanding and appreciation” (Journal & Courier, Dec. 14, 1970).  The house included offices, meeting rooms, kitchen facilities, lounges, and space for events and presentations.

This remained the home of the BCC until the current Black Cultural Center building opened at the corner of Russell and 3rd Streets in 1999.  Centrally located between the academic and residential communities of Purdue, the BCC features distinctive architectural design inspired by the art and architecture of ancient Africa.

Black Cultural Center, 2001

Today, the Black Cultural Center “provides purposeful, holistic, scholarly and co-curricular programming designed to strengthen understanding of African American heritage.  It enhances the academic, cultural and social development of the entire Purdue community.”

Parade of people with balloonsIt’s always a good time to celebrate Purdue!  In this image, we see a large group of people parading along a West Lafayette street.  Can you identify the location and the time period?  Where might they have been going?

Share your guesses in the comments and check back on Friday when we reveal the full story behind the photo!


The October 20, 1923, football game was a special event not just for Purdue but also for the whole Lafayette community thanks to a “Lafayette Day” theme.  At 12:30 p.m., a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered at Sixth and Columbia Streets in downtown Lafayette to form one of the largest parades in the city’s history.  Led by the Purdue Military Band, they marched over the bridge, up the hill, and across campus to Stuart Field and a specially reserved seating area for parade participants.  This photograph captured the parade moving up the hill on State Street in West Lafayette near the intersection of River Road.

Purdue Military Band, 1923

The Purdue Military Band leads the parade

Bleachers at the Purdue vs. Wabash game, 1923

The Lafayette section of the bleachers on Stuart Field, next to the Armory

In addition to a ticket for the game, everyone in the parade received a gold-colored balloon emblazoned with the words “Let’s Go, Purdue!”  The words are just visible some of the balloons in this close look at the original photo.

Close up look at parade balloons

On the field, Purdue and Wabash were evenly matched and ended the game with a 7-7 tie.

Organizers hoped that Lafayette Day would become an annual tradition that would encourage Boilermaker spirit on both sides of the river.

University photographer J.C. Allen captured the images of the parade and they are now part of the J.C. Allen negatives and photographs collection.  Information about Lafayette Day comes from the contemporary news coverage in The Purdue Exponent.

We’ll be back on February 12 with our next From the Archives challenge!

Students walking through snow on Purdue's campus

Winter break is over and classes are back in session, but Purdue’s campus still looks like a winter wonderland.  Students have been trekking through snow to travel between their classes, dorms, and activities, just as they always have.  The features in this photograph are no longer part of the campus landscape, but can you identify what campus landmarks appear here and approximately when the image was taken?  Take a close look and share your theories in the comments.  The full story of this scene will be revealed on Friday.


This picture of campus, circa 1909, shows students walking across The Oval along the hedge walk toward Ladies Hall. The Oval still exists today as Memorial Mall, but the hedge walks that used to circle The Oval have long since been removed.  Here’s another view of that scene during warmer weather:

Hedge Walk leading to Ladies Hall

Ladies Hall, also known as Art Hall, was the women’s dorm and for many years the site of home economics and art classes.  Its unusual architectural style and ivy-covered walls stood out among the traditional brick buildings on the rest of campus, making it a popular subject of campus imagery like the postcard below.  Ladies Hall stood along State Street on the site of what is now Founders Park between Matthews Hall and Stone Hall.  It was demolished in 1927.

Ladies Hall

This snowy photograph and many other views of Purdue student life in the 1900s can be found in the photo album of Loretta Mae Wallace, available online in e-Archives.

We’ll be back on January 29 with our next From the Archives mystery photo.

From the Archives: Study Space

December 4th, 2017

In addition to Christmas and snow, Purdue students know that December means finals.  Students are filling study spaces across campus as they prepare for exams and term papers, just as they have throughout Purdue’s history.  Can you identify this location filled with studying students, what it was called, and where it was located?  Share your theories in the comments and check back on Friday for the full reveal!


The Bookstall on the second floor of the Humanities, Social Science, and Education Library in Stewart Center was a student destination.  The large open space, the result of a 1961 renovation, housed newspapers and periodicals and included ample room for dozens of students to complete assignments or study for exams.  It remained a popular study spot until a new Bookstall opened with the Hicks Undergraduate Library in 1982.

In addition to study space, the HSSE Bookstall was sometimes an event destination.  It hosted a series of “coffee concerts” as musicians performed and crowds assembled in the space.

Many buildings have been part of Purdue’s campus landscape over the years.  Some became institutional landmarks while others were here only briefly, built to serve a specific purpose for a limited period of time.  Can you identify the structures in this photograph, their purpose, and where they were located?  Share your theories in the comments and check back on Friday for the whole story!


Purdue was a military training location during World War I and men from across the country traveled to West Lafayette before shipping out to other parts of the world.  To accommodate the influx of so many new people on campus, many of whom stayed for just a few weeks before being replaced by the next group of recruits, the university constructed temporary military barracks on the north side of campus in what had been farmland.  This photograph looks south toward the barracks that sat on the site of the current Mechanical Engineering Building with the tower of Heavilon Hall visible in the background.  They were demolished shortly after World War I ended in 1918.

Interior scene of Company 5 Barracks photographed in Fall 1918.

Please join us again for our final From the Archives photo of the year on Monday, December 4.