Author Archives: msego

What’s in a Box? Processing the Neil A. Armstrong papers

People often wonder what archival processing means. In this blog post we explore some of the aspects associated with processing personal papers and archives. The Neil A. Armstrong papers are an excellent example to use for demonstrating a team approach to processing.

The term “processing” conjures all kinds of images in a person’s mind. According to the Society of American Archivists, archival processing is defined as:

Archival Processing, n. ~ 1. The arrangement, description, and housing of archival materials for storage and use by patrons.

Society of American Archivists, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology 

On the surface, this work may seem straightforward. However, it is the act of determining how best to arrange, describe, and preserve archival materials that requires a blend of skills, from knowledge of best practices in how to organize unpublished documents, photos, and artifacts according to provenance and original order, to knowing how to assign descriptions to unidentified items using archival descriptive standards, to assigning appropriate subject headings for discoverability, and how to take the right preservation steps (preventive, such as the right environment, security, and storage) or conservation steps (Item-level treatment, such as mending a torn page or removing adhesive from a photograph).

This blend of tasks requires a variety of skill sets, educational background, and training. Archivists, for example, are experts in appraisal, identifying what materials to keep in perpetuity. Archivists are also knowledgeable about privacy and confidentiality issues and donor requirements, both of which will impact which aspects of the collection will be made available immediately for use or require temporary access restrictions. In the Armstrong papers, for example, there are many third-party privacy rights and intellectual property and persona issues that can make providing access to the collection a challenge.

Archivists work with archival assistants to agree upon the right organization as part of the processing plan for a collection. Archival assistants and graduate student employees work under the direction of an archivist to sort and put the entire collection in order, and begin the painstaking process of identifying the contents of each series, or grouping, within the collection. Archival assistants also re-house archival materials into acid-free, lignin-free folders and boxes, perform preservation reformatting, and label materials in the collection.

With a large archival collection, staff may decide to process it as a team, divvying up tasks between archivists, archival assistants, and/or graduate student employees trained in processing. Working with unpublished, unedited personal papers requires a lot of decision making as well as extensive handling of the materials themselves. To cut down on wear and tear, it is important to identify in advance the steps to be taken during processing and who will perform each task.

Because each archival collection is unique, each collection will offer new questions to answer. There are some general questions that archives staff keep in mind when reviewing a collection to be processed. In particular, assessing the condition of a collection when it arrives is essential to avoid possible contamination affecting the rest of the archival collections.

An Armstrong box before processing.

Some of the processing questions to be asked

  • Are there any pests in the box? Evidence of any moisture?
  • Is there evidence of an original order to the collection, showing how the creator used it?
  • How would you group the material into series?
    • By original order?
    • By physical type?
    • By function (correspondence, career activities, volunteer work, etc)?
  • Are there any special housings/boxes needed?
  • Are there items in the collection that pose a threat to its preservation? For example, are there rusty staples or paper clips to be removed? Are there newspaper clippings adjacent to other documents? Are there extra preservation measures needed?

Anniversary publication, Neil A. Armstrong papers

Processing the Neil A. Armstrong papers

Although the bulk of Neil Armstrong’s papers were donated by his wife Carol in 2012, there have been additional donated boxes received periodically since that time. The boxes the materials arrive in can be a variety of sizes, some with materials in an original order, others with a variety of types of items within each. Collection materials range from paper documents to photographic negatives and prints, maps, audio-visual recordings, and 3-dimensional artifacts and memorabilia. Some published materials, such as newspaper clippings and journal articles collected by Armstrong are included.

Wooden model planes, Neil A. Armstrong papers








Items in an original Gemini VIII box of Armstrong papers.







There were hundreds of decisions to be made, such as…

  • Determine the order to arrange items in.


  • Decide what to do with a piece of the Berlin Wall!

Piece of Berlin Wall, Neil A. Armstrong papers








Once an arrangement scheme is determined, Items are placed in acid-free archival folders and labeled with the collection name, collection number, box and folder number.  Series titles and the contents also go on the folder. Pencil is used, as to not accidentally mark in ink on the contents. Folder labels are avoided, as they can deteriorate over time and fall off and leave adhesive residue on the folders.


The folders are placed into archival boxes and await final processing decisions. Sticky notes are often used to temporarily mark the outside of boxes, but are never left on archival material to avoid adhesive damage to the collection.

    After all of the final processing decisions are made, the boxes make their way to the shelves to await the final labeling.   


One 2016 addition donated by Carol Armstrong was comprised of  14.2 cubic feet of material.

Here are a few of those items…


Items from Armstrong’s childhood.

Mixed materials, Neil A. Armstrong papers









Also found among the additions were documents from throughout his career.

Yes, it’s a Purdue postcard…

Purdue University mail, Neil A. Armstrong papers







And these various items…

A letter of thanks from the University of Cincinnati upon Armstrong’s retirement from teaching.

Special membership cards.




A wide assortment of Armstrong’s aviation themed tie tacks.


Processing challenges sometimes require a call to outside experts. Neil Armstrong’s Samsonite briefcase accidentally closed and locked during  intake of this 2016 addition to his papers. The Purdue locksmiths were called in.

(The briefcase was full of documents.)              


The current tally…

This large and complex collection took two years to process. However, because Neil Armstrong and his office assistants over the years had labeled and maintained his papers in groups, that order eventually became recognized in a large percentage of the collection as boxes and files were examined.  A team of three staff members met weekly to discuss the boxes and make processing decisions to best reflect the original order recognized. When obviously out of original order materials were encountered, the team discussed how to logically arrange that material according to best archival practices.  The careful processing of these papers honor Mr. Armstrong’s legacy.

Neil A. Armstrong papers
221.7 cubic feet (466 manuscript boxes)
364 page Finding Aid

Click on on this cover page from the finding aid for the full inventory.

Neil A. Armstrong papers finding aid


The Neil Armstrong papers at work…


Supporting Instruction, Learning, & Scholarship

Once the papers were processed and open to researchers, instruction archivists formed partnerships with teaching faculty in the History Department, English Department, American Studies, Honors College, and the Polytechnic School to integrate the Armstrong papers into course instruction. Students are introduced to Purdue Archives and taught how to conduct archival research as part of an information strategy. Since the opening of the papers in 2014, a number of students have explored topics related to the history, technology, international relations, engineering, computer science, and graphic design during the American Space Program. Several students have had their research published or have presented at the annual Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference. The Archives has also been a resource for documentary filmmakers, television news productions, and well-known authors who have used the collection to create films and new scholarly works. In addition, a small exhibit area has held two exhibitions based upon the collection and a partnership with Purdue Galleries in 2019 resulted in the first art exhibition inspired by artists’ use of the Armstrong papers.

All of this generation of new knowledge, scholarship, and creative works was made possible first by the generous donation of Neil Armstrong’s papers by Neil and his wife, Carol Armstrong, and secondly, by the two years worth of hundreds of hours of labor intensive processing by Archives staff to make the papers accessible and to preserve them.

Examples of courses that integrated archival literacy instruction & the Armstrong papers 

  • HIST 302H “Flight Paths: Purdue’s Aerospace Pioneers” (archival research seminar)
  • HIST 495 “Flight and Space Exploration: An Archival Research Seminar” (archival research seminar)
  • HIST 395 “Air and Space: The Technology and Culture of Flight” (archival research seminar)

    HIST 395 student Jaehyeok Kim references documents from the Neil Armstrong papers during his 2019 Apollo in the Archives undergraduate research conference presentation.

  • HONR 299 “Food, Kitchens, and the Politics of Taste”
  • TECH 299 “Seminar in Humanities & Technology”
  • HIST 494 “Science and Technology in American Civilization”
  • ENG 106 (multiple sections)

Student research and scholarship generated by use of the collection:

  • Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly (Volume 23, No 4, 2016)
  • The Exponent The Literary Edition (Spring 2016)
  • The three engineering and science students (Sam Conklin, Alex Crick, and Jaehyeok Kim), in Think, the magazine of the College of Liberal Arts (fall of 2019).  See their full articles in “Man + Machine: Research from Purdue’s Neil A. Armstrong Papers,”


Examples of television and film productions using the collection:

  • First Man pre-production researchers (2018 release)
  • Tin Goose Films documentary, “Armstrong”. Directed by David Fairhead, narrator Harrison Ford, by Tin Goose Films (Theatrical release July 12, 2019)
  • CBS This Morning Saturday,  “The Armstrong Letters:  A Look at the Astronaut’s Collection of Correspondence” (Aired July 20, 2019, April 11, 2020.)


“Apollo in the Archives” exhibit. 2019

 Apollo in the Archives exhibit, 2019

Purdue student club tour of Apollo in the Archives exhibit. Students worked hard to finish Neil Armstrong’s calculus homework (on display) without calculators atop lunar descent and ascent planning diagrams display.  “Apollo in the Archives” exhibit. 2019.




“Return to Entry” exhibition,Purdue Galleries, 2019.

“Return to Entry” exhibition, Purdue Galleries, 2019.


Artist Frances Gallardo talks with Carol Armstrong about the artwork Gallardo created and what in the Armstrong papers inspired her to create the piece. “Return to Entry” exhibition, Purdue Galleries, 2019.



It has been an honor and a pleasure to process and share the Neil A. Armstrong papers!


This blog is by Mary Sego, archives processing assistant. The content is based on a poster presented by Mary Sego and Tracy Grimm, Barron Hilton Archivist for Flight and Space Exploration, at the 2017 Libraries “One Book Higher.” The information has been updated to reflect recent use of the Armstrong papers.

Purdue and India, Part 1: The First Indian Students at Purdue

Editors Note: The materials in this post are presented as they were originally created. In some cases, outdated terms and phrases were used that may be offensive today, but they are presented here unedited so that the context of the difficulties faced by international students may be understood.  Please click on images for better view.

In Recognition of the World at Purdue’s Doorstep 1887 – 1955

Students have traveled from India to study at Purdue since the early 1900s. In this post, we highlight those early Purdue students from India.

A university publication titled “In Recognition of the World at Purdue’s Doorstep 1887 – 1955” identifies two students who were likely the first to come from India to study at Purdue. Those men were Amar Nath Bery of Kashmir and Ram Lal Bery of Lahore.

Ram Lal Bery, 1905 Debris

Ram Lal Bery (BSME, 1905) appeared as a senior in the Purdue yearbook, The Debris. After graduation, he returned to Indiana and became Principal of the Hindu Diamond Technical Institute.

Amar Nath Bery (BSEE, 1905) graduated the same year as Ram Lal Bery but does not appear in the Debris. He later became Secretary of the Public Works Department, Jammu and Kashmir. 


1905 Debris

The Debris yearbook includes other students from India in subsequent years. The next student from India was Albert Norton. As noted in the necrology, Norton passed away on October 6, 1906.  H.D. Wohra  (Class of 1913) appears in the Debris as a member of the Cosmopolitan Club/Corda Fratres, but he is not pictured with the other seniors in the 1913 yearbook.

Birendra Nath Das Gupta, 1914 Debris

Narendra Nath Sen, 1914 Debris

The next student from India known to graduate from Purdue was Birendra Nath Das Gupta (BSEE, 1914). As stated below his photo, Das Gupta came from India in October 1911, and he spent his first year at Wisconsin. He then came to Purdue and was able to complete his studies in three years.

Also among the Class of 1914 was Narendra Nath Sen.  Like Gupta, Sen first spent a year at the University of Wisconsin before transferring to Purdue. He planned to continue his education with advanced degrees in engineering after earning his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Purdue Exponent, September 24, 1921

1922 Debris, p. 385

The 1920s saw another group of students coming to Purdue from India. Per an Exponent article from 1921, six students from India made their way to Purdue and faced unique challenges. Those students also formed the Purdue Hindusthan Association, a local chapter of a national organization to support students from India as they represent their culture in America.

Three of the men featured in the Exponent article appear in the Debris:



Kameshwar Nath Kathju, 1922 Debris


Kameshwar Nath Kathju (BS, 1922) of Bikaner, who was a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute of London



Syed Habibuddin Ahmed, 1923 Debris

1923 Debris


Syed Habibuddin Ahmed (BSEE, 1923) of Burhanpur



Gyan Chand Sharma, 1924 Debris

1924 Debris


Gyan Chand Sharma (BSEE, 1924) of Lahore, who played a key role in organizing the Foreign Students’ Union, a club that provided support for other international students.

Purdue Exponent, October 4, 1923

Many of the students gave presentations on campus, supported other international students, and provided insight into what it meant to travel across the globe to study at a university far from home.

Per statistics gathered for 1941-1942, there were no students from India at Purdue, but by 1946 the Lafayette Journal and Courier reported that there were ten students from India at Purdue that year.

MSP 152, Box 2, Folder 3, Purdue University International Students collection

As the years went by, outreach efforts resulted in increases to the number of International students attending Purdue. As International alumni spread the word about the value of their Purdue educations, the number of international students continued to rise.

A letter home to students in India

Purdue at India, Call # LD4767.2 .I523

In 1963, students published the “India at Purdue” newsletter. This short-lived publication focused on news and events in India for those who were far from home. The quotation on the cover states “In diversity we strive for unity.”

By 1963 there were 120 students from India enrolled at Purdue and that number has continued to grow ever since. Today, more than 2,000 students from India attend Purdue and Purdue Indian students are integral contributors to celebrations of diversity and multiculturalism on campus.

Our next post, Purdue and India, Part 2, focuses on Purdue’s collaborative efforts to establish the Indian Institute of Technology.



Blog post by Mary A. Sego (’82), Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.


MSP 152, Purdue University International Students collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Purdue University. Senior Class. (1889). Debris.

Purdue University. (1961). Alumni directory, 1875-1961, Purdue University. Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue Alumni Association.

Purdue University. India Students Association. (n.d.). India at Purdue.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections

Vertical File, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Overcoming the Odds: A Look Back at Our Earliest Chinese Students

Items from the Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections

Editor’s Note: All the names in this post are presented as they appeared in the original Purdue publications.  The preferred Anglicized spellings of names may have changed since that time.

Continuing in our series on Purdue firsts, we take a look at some of our earliest Purdue alumni from China.

1916 Purdue Alumni Directory

One can search the earliest Purdue Alumni Directories to see who these students were. The 1916 Alumni Directory, which can be found in the Purdue Archives, shows this list of men as the first alums in China.  Upon further research, one learns that G.L. Hagman was from Louisville, Kentucky; H.H. Arnold hailed from Denver, Colorado; and L.E. Crowell was from Portland, Indiana, when they attended Purdue. One can deduce that they must have moved to China after graduation.

Fuchen K. Sah, the first Chinese student to graduate from Purdue, 1910 Debris. Click image to view larger version.

That leaves F.K. Sah, 1910, and P.L. Yang, 1911, as the first Purdue graduates from China.

Fuchen K. Sah (sometimes spelled Fuchuen Sah) graduated from Purdue in 1910 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.  He later became Engineer-in-Chief on Chiou-Chi Railway (The Chinese Students at Purdue, 16).

The earliest membership of the Purdue C.E. Club, 1910 Debris. Click image to view larger version.

Further research shows that another student from China was also part of the class of 1910 at some point. The membership roster for the Civil Engineering Club for 1910 lists L.C. Yen as a member and a part of the Class of 1910.

Cosmopolitan Club, 1909 Debris. Click image to view larger version.

L.C. Yen also appears in this 1909 photograph of the Cosmopolitan Club. The Cosmopolitan Club was first established at Purdue in 1907 and its membership comprised international students.

Per the listing for Yen in The Chinese Students at Purdue booklet, Yen “swung himself into action immediately after graduation. He served as District Engineer for the Szechuen-Hankow Railway and the Caton-Hankow Railway from 1910-1916. Then he took his own initiative in promoting an engineering company in Shanghai, China” (18).  Yen led the Pacific Engineering Company, while also managing the Pacific Trading Company.

Both Sah and Yen made tremendous contributions to the infrastructure of China in the early 1900s. They were pioneers in their efforts, and made important contributions to improve transportation in China.

From The Chinese Students at Purdue, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 3. Click image to view larger version.

The Purdue Chinese Students’ Club was founded in 1909 with only six students in the initial club. (The Chinese Students at Purdue, p.12). The Club’s 1925 publication The Chinese Students at Purdue is a valuable resource about both the club and its members. As stated in the text, “As an instrument for developing a cooperative spirit among the Chinese students in American universities, and for cultivating and promoting friendly relations with the people of the United States, the club has proved itself worthy of its existence.” Cora Whang, one of the first female Chinese students appears on the first row. The Chinese Students at Purdue booklet lists her as “Cora Wang, Sc., ex-’25.” (15) Note the difference in the spelling of her last name. There are no other photographs of her in the Debris yearbook under Whang or Wang.












The following profiles highlight several other early Chinese alumni.

Chi Ting Sun, 1915 Debris

Chi Ting Sun graduated in Electrical Engineering in 1915. Sun reminisced about his time at Purdue in Purdue in China, a 1961 publication by the Purdue Alumni Association of Taiwan: “I arrived at W. Lafayette in September 1911 by rail and was welcomed by a Y-man at the station. At that time a rough game, Tank Scrap, was to take place at the beginning of each school year. In the evening when the Scrap was going to start, Mrs. Goldsmith treated me as her own son. She pulled down the curtains of my room and told me to be quiet. Soon I heard shouting outside, ‘Freshmen out!’ She answered from downstairs, ‘He has been out already.’ She then turned and said to me, ‘Our American boys are accustomed to games of rough nature and they are near to their parents. You come to America for education and your parents are far away, on the other side of the Pacific. I must act as your mother. I want you to stay away at such occasions.’ Her lovely attitude toward a foreigner made me remember her forever.

I passed that winter without an overcoat for some unavoidable reasons. But Prof. Cole questioned me about the overcoat every time I met him. He watched over the foreign students so closely that it impressed me deeply.

I was in Purdue for four years and was getting on well with the professors and classmates. In the fall of 1915 I registered in M.I.T.  But before long I was badly homesick for Purdue. I am having the same feeling for Purdue in Taiwan now as I did in Boston 49 years ago.” (26)

Chi Ting Sun taught at Nan Kai College after he left Purdue. He later gave up teaching and went on to hold prominent positions with the famous Chiou-Chi Railway. It is said that many students held his recommendations in high regard. (The Chinese Students at Purdue, 16).

Kwo-Chun Lee, 1918 Debris

Kwo-Chun Lee (later spelled Kuo-Chun Li) also shared his accomplishments in Purdue in China.  He wrote, ”Just before the war broke out in July 1937, I joined the Ministry of Railways and was assigned to supervise the construction of a large railway workshop in Chuchowm Huan. Having completed this job the following year, I took up a post as section engineer of the war time construction of the Huan-Kwangsi Railway. My section was located half-way between Kweilin and Liuchow, in Kwangsi Province, winding alongside a small stream through a narrow deep valley fully infested with malaria. In worst cases, victims died within three days and due to this disease we had lost several thousand men within a period of two years.” (Purdue in China, Purdue Alumni Association of Taiwan, p. 19).  After the war, Li went on to help rehabilitate the war torn railroad system in three provinces. He was able to accomplish the rehabilitation by May 1949, the railway was opened to traffic, and an extension of the railway was undertaken. Li reported that he left the mainland for Taiwan about this time. His first job in Taiwan, as reported by Li, “was the erection of sixteen spans of 205 feet steel trusses for the Silo Bridge, the famous highway bridge in central Taiwan.” (Purdue in China, 20). Li later went on to hold prominent positions within the Military Construction Bureau, Ministry of National Defense. In his words, “The Bureau undertakes all kinds of construction projects, including designing and building airfields, harbor, roads, barracks, shops and all kinds of installations for the armed forces.” (20).

Practical knots, hitches and splices Norman, C. A. ; Purdue University. Division of Rural Engineering 1920. Click image to access the full publication.

Chen Yew Tang, 1921 Debris

Chen Yew Tang graduated in 1921 with a B.S. in Agriculture and was a skilled illustrator. His talent is shown in this Purdue Extension Bulletin he contributed to while a Purdue student.




J.C. Li, 1923 Debris

Ju Chi Li also contributed to agriculture worldwide.  He graduated from Purdue in 1923. As a student, Li wrote about agriculture in China in the October 1922 issue of The Purdue Agriculturist 


Purdue Agriculturist, October 1922. Click image to view larger version.

Purdue Agriculturist, October 1922, p. 14. Click image to view larger version.

This fictionalized diary page from the 1927 Chinese Students’ Year Book describes what it was like for a Chinese student at Purdue in 1927. “Rent $12.00…”

Page from a Chinese student’s diary, Chinese Students’ Year Book, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 5. Click image to view larger version.

Alumni graduate students from China have also made major contributions to their fields.

Yong-piao Liu, Purdue in China, p. 35

Dr. Yong-piao Liu’s work was important to the field of veterinary science. As Liu recalled in the Purdue in China booklet, “Through the recommendation of Dr. I.E. Newsom, veterinary advisor of JCPR (the former president of Colorado Agriculture and Medical College) as well as the financial aid offered by China Foundation, I joined the Department of Veterinary Science of Purdue University to study veterinary bacteriology for one year from 1953-1954. I spent many a happy hour there in carrying out various experiments with adequate laboratory facilities, materials and assistance of the staff. Before going to the States I investigated Swine Pneumonia and this work I continued at Purdue University in order to determine the real cause. From 108 heads of the diseased pigs, I isolated Listeria organism from three cases. This was the first successful trial of isolation of Listeria organism for swine in Indiana.” (23).

Dr. Y.P. Liu later became the head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at National Taiwan University, in charge of Veterinary Bacteriology and Infectious Diseases of Domestic Animals.

Deng Jiaxian, 1950. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Another Chinese Ph.D. student from Purdue to make his mark in history was Deng Jiaxian, known as China’s “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue in 1950. After graduation, he returned to China and dedicated over 20 years working with a team of scientists who developed the nuclear and hydrogen bomb for China. Jiaxian’s contributions were critical to China’s nuclear program. In 1999 he was posthumously awarded the National Merit Medal for his contributions to Chinese Military Science.

The Purdue University Archives and Special Collections has a collection of articles that document some of the press releases after Deng Jiaxian’s death, from a local story by Jack Alkire of the Journal and Courier to publications from China. The Archives also has Jiaxian’s Ph.D. dissertation, The Photo-Disintegration of the Deuteron.”

The Chinese Students at Purdue booklet provides a list of the earliest Chinese Purdue alumni. Two women, Lillian Lee, (ex ’25) and Cora Wang, (ex ’25), do not appear in the Debris yearbook, but are noted as alumnae.

The earliest Chinese Purdue alumni. From The Chinese Students at Purdue, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 3. Click image to view larger version.


The 1927 Chinese Students’ Year Book lists Anna Lee as the only female Chinese student at that time.


Pages from Chinese Students’ Year Book, Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 5

Programs from the Chinese Students’ Alliance Mid-West Conference, 1921. Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 4

Another important contribution Chinese students at Purdue made was participation in the Chinese Students’ Alliance. The Alliance was a nationwide organization of Chinese students studying in the United States, the first nation to which modern China sent students for an education. 

Program from the Chinese Students’ Alliance Mid-West Conference, 1925. Purdue University Chinese Students collection, MSP 155, Folder 4

The Alliance was divided into three sections; the Eastern, Midwest and Western. Each section was composed of a number of Chinese Students’ Clubs.

Chinese Students’ Annual Conference Closed Wednesday, Purdue Exponent, September 10, 1921. Click image to view larger version.

Each year during early September, an annual summer conference was held by each section at a convenient location for the purpose of bringing the Chinese students together to exchange ideas and discuss important problems. Purdue University was the site of the Mid-West Conference in 1921 and again in 1925.

There are so many other stories that could be featured as firsts among the Chinese Purdue students! This is just a sampling of those that made an early impact among the Purdue community and worldwide. Their efforts have made the world a better place.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego (’82), Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.


Purdue University. Chinese Students’ Club. Alumni Committee. (1924). The Chinese students at Purdue. LaFayette, Ind.: Purdue University.

Purdue Alumni Association of Taiwan. (1961). Purdue in China. Taipei, Taiwan.

Burg, David F. “Chinese Students’ Alliance.” Encyclopedia of Student and Youth Movements. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1998. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 17 June 2014.

Yu, C.C. “The Chinese Students’ Alliance in the United States.” Young China, July 1921. Web. 17 June  2014.

Bevis, Teresa Brawner. “The Chinese Students’ Alliance.” A History of Higher Education Exchange: China and America.  New York : Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2013. Web. 17 June 2014.

File:鄧稼先普渡照片.jpg. (2017, October 3). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 20:28, July 18, 2018 from

Celebrating Black History Month: Firsts by Purdue African-American Students and Alumni

Items from the Purdue University African American Students, Alumni and Faculty collection

Black History Month is a great time to take a look back in Purdue’s history and honor our African American pioneers, the people who broke new ground and paved the way for others. Actually, any time is the right time to honor people who have succeeded, but particularly those who faced obstacles outside the norm of typical student life.

If one flips through the Debris yearbook from the earliest years in Purdue’s history, it becomes clear from the atmosphere that is portrayed, the cartoons that are illustrated, and the words that are used that students were not always kind or inclusive towards one another. Although all students struggle from time to time, it is important to remember that people of color, or any people who differed from the majority, faced additional struggles inside and outside the classroom, and their voices are not always included in these historical accounts of student life. We believe this creates even more cause to celebrate, as a means of honoring those individuals who succeeded despite the odds.

According to historical accounts in the Archives, in 1944 there were twelve African American students at Purdue (Cornelius 10), and records show 145 black students in 1965.  Thirty years later, during the 1994-1995 school year, there were 1,175. In 2015, the number was only a bit higher, at 1,183.

Below are some of the Purdue “firsts” among the African American student population:

1890, Purdue’s First Black Graduate

George W. Lacey is noted as having graduated from Purdue in Pharmacy. He is not found in the Debris yearbook, but he is mentioned elsewhere as having been Purdue’s first black graduate. His name is found in the 1890 Druggists’ Circular and Chemical Gazette with the listing of those who graduated from the Purdue School of Pharmacy that year. Fred Whitford, author of The Grand Old Man of Purdue University and Indiana Agriculture: A Biography of William Carroll Latta, also makes mention of Lacey as being the first black Purdue graduate (Whitford 37).


Or was it David Robert Lewis?

David Robert Lewis has also been noted in Purdue’s historical accounts as the University’s first black graduate. He was from Greensburg, Indiana, and he earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1894. His senior thesis was titled “Highway Road Construction.”



Click to learn more about Lewis.

One problem in identifying the first African American graduate of Purdue, is that although Purdue began offering courses in 1874, the first records that include images of students are in the Debris yearbook, which did not exist until 1889. Therefore, the possibility exists that neither Lacey nor Lewis were the first African American graduate from Purdue– it is possible that a student who graduated prior to invention of the yearbook may have been African American, but thus far there is no record in the University Archives that confirms this. Official university records did not include race or ethnicity prior to 1974.

Other Early African American Graduates

Richard Wirt Smith graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 1904.

1904  Debris






Smith in a Purdue Pharmacy Lab in 1904.

Indianapolis Recorder, February 4, 1939

1904 Debris













Per Mr. Smith’s obituary in the Indianapolis Recorder, February 4, 1939, he died a successful druggist, at the young age of 54.

1905,  John Henry Weaver, Pharmacy

As noted in John Henry Weaver’s Debris entry, he was also a member of the track team for 4 years. Sadly, as mentioned in Alexandra Cornelius’ research, “Purdue teams, like other national sports teams, became segregated in the 1910s and 1920s. They remained segregated until 1947, when black attorney Willard Ransom, a Purdue alumnus, challenged the University, and a student protest led to a black football player being put into the game.” Cornelius found other evidence that life must have been difficult for black students in the early years of the 20th century. Her research has provided valuable evidence of early African American life at Purdue and is used frequently in the Archives.


1905, Samuel Saul Dargan graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1905. He went on to become the first black man to earn a Law Degree from Indiana University (1909). He was curator of the IU Law Library for 39 years and assisted many law school students during that time.

1905 Debris




More about Dargan



1913, David Nelson Crosthwait Jr., Mechanical Engineering

1913 Debris

David Crosthwait became a pioneer in the field of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, and is known for finding a way to heat Radio City Music Hall.

More about Crosthwait





Who was the first black woman to attend Purdue?  As one turns the pages of the earliest Purdue Debris yearbooks, very few females look up from the pages. Even fewer black females are present. Per Caitlyn Marie Stypa, in her 2013 master’s thesis, Purdue Girls: The Female Experience at a Land-Grant University, 1887-1913: “While university publications make it difficult to determine who the first black woman was to enroll in or graduate from Purdue University, it is quite certain that she was not a student until after 1913.”  Stypa goes on to write that “as late as 1911, black women made up just one-third of one percent of female college and university students. Common reasons for the low enrollment rate included lack of funds or outright discrimination” (Stypa 5).

As mentioned earlier, the fact that prior to 1974, a student’s permanent record did not include any racial or ethnic identification makes efforts to locate the first African American students a difficult task.

1910, First African American Women

One of the first black females to be found in the Debris yearbook appears in the middle of this photograph of the 1910 Junior Pharmacy Class. If one looks for her in the following years, she does not appear. Not every student had their photograph taken for the Debris, which makes it difficult to rely upon as a source for verifying the first African American students at Purdue; however, as one of the few early historical records containing images, the Debris yearbook is often our best available source for finding clues about Purdue’s early African American students. Because this woman could not be identified in later issues of the yearbook, it is possible that she was a student who did not finish her degree at Purdue. [Editor’s note, 2023: this woman is likely Rhoygnette Webb. To learn more about Webb and the process of discovering her identity, read “The Search for Miss Webb”] 

1910,   Junior Pharmacy Class

1913, Summer School for Teachers

In this photograph from the 1913 Debris, one finds another black woman. Her name is not noted, but she participated in Purdue’s Summer School for Teachers, which included Indiana high school and college students from around the state. It is unknown whether she was a full-time student enrolled in courses (outside of the Summer School for Teachers) at Purdue. 

1910, Summer School for Teachers

1927, Inez Mason

In 1927, Inez Mason was the first cited member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, an early Greek organization established for African-American college women.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree the same year. Her membership in the sorority is noted under her photo in the 1927 Debris.

Inez Mason, 1927 Debris







1931, Thelma F. McDonald

McDonald, 1931 Debris


No further information has been located in the Archives about Thelma McDonald.



1932, Silance Sisters

Sisters Delia and Ella Belle Silance of Lafayette appear to be two of the first black female graduates of Purdue. Both graduated with distinction and are shown below in the 1932 Debris.

Silance Sisters, 1932 Debris

“…Male black students could only live in West Lafayette in International House on University Avenue. However, black female students were denied the right and had to live across the river. ‘Practice House’ was a requirement in order to earn a degree in Home Economics. It was a program of 6 weeks duration, during which time home making duties were rotated among the girls each week. During those weeks two girls roomed together in the house. However, I was assigned to a group of five which included a very well liked black student. Those making the room pairings were planning to assign her to her own room, thinking incorrectly that no one would want to room with her. But she did have a room mate and one of the white girls roomed alone. Therefore, all of the assignments had to be rescheduled to accommodate a class of five. Thankfully, those restrictions were lifted long ago.” (Source: The Way It Was at Purdue 1941-1945, by Esther Conelley Boonstra, HE ’45).

Read more of Connelly Boonstra’s firsthand account of Purdue in the early 1940s

1942 – International House established

The first members of International House, 1942

International House became the home for Purdue black male and international students, appearing in the Debris in 1942.


1949 Debris



This page from the 1949 Debris describes International House. Click on the photo for a full view of the page.



Jean Douglas, 1945 Debris




If one searches the Debris for the Home Economics graduates for 1945, the lone black face that looks up from the pages is Jean Douglas.  She is most likely the student mentioned in Esther Conelley’s account above.


 1940s-50s, Purdue Athletics

As mentioned previously, Purdue athletic teams remained segregated until at least 1947. The pages of the Debris yearbook rarely mention black student athletes before 1950. According to Athletics sources, the first African American students to join the Purdue football team were Herman Murray and Lively Bryant, both in 1949. The Purdue student newspaper reported that Herman Murray played in practice games of the “B Team” against the freshmen as early as November 1948 (Exponent, November 13, 1948). Murray became the first African American Boilermaker to play in an official football game when Purdue played Northwestern at Ross Ade Stadium on November 11, 1950. The 1950 Debris yearbook shows Herman Murray in the team photograph for the Football “B” team. Murray, a tackle, received his varsity letter in 1951.

1950 Debris



Lundy, 1955 Debris

In 1955, Lamar Lundy was a center for the Purdue basketball team.

Many other exceptional black athletes would one day follow in their footsteps.





Other Firsts


1955, first African American Woman to Earn Ph.D.

In 1955 Dr. Delores Cooper Shockley became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Purdue and in the United States.   Read more about her



1968, first African American Faculty Member

Bass Williams

It was not until 1968, when Helen Bass Williams was hired, that Purdue had a member of the faculty who was African American. Williams was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement before coming to Purdue. She was hired as an instructor in French and a counselor in the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education.

More about Helen Bass Williams

1975, The National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) began as the Society of Black Engineers (SBE) and was founded at Purdue University in the 1970s. Because of this, Purdue is also known as the mother chapter of NSBE. The National Society of Black Engineers came into being as a result of a conference planned and hosted by SBE at Purdue in April 1975.

1975 Debris

Per the Purdue University Minority Engineering web page:

“In the early 1970s, only 20 percent of minority engineers stayed in the engineering program after their first year. With this low retention rate, there was a large disparity in the student population. John Logan, Edward Coleman, George Smith, Stanley Kirtley, Brian Harris, and Anthony Harris became known as the Chicago Six, as they took action to help their fellow students. In 1975, they founded the Black Society of Engineers (BSE) with the help of their advisor Arthur Bond at Purdue. Anthony Harris proposed changing the name to Society of Black Engineers (SBE) in 1976 and he began reaching out to engineering programs and advisors throughout the nation, proposing a national organization and collaboration. In 1976, the first national conference was held at Purdue University and included participation from 32 schools and 48 students from all parts of the country.”  More Information

1975 Debris

Anthony Harris, one of the society’s founding members, was named chairman of the national advisory board for the society in 2007. He is president and CEO of Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company, a manufacturer of equipment that detects contraband, explosives and “dirty bombs.” Its primary customers include the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1975 and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1979. He was named a Purdue Outstanding Mechanical Engineer in 1999.


1978, Kassandra Agee – Purdue’s First Black Homecoming Queen

1979 Debris

In 1978, as a sophomore, Kassandra Agee was elected as Purdue’s first African American Homecoming Queen, following an extensive and energetic campaign. Kassandra “Katie” Agee (now Chandler) took part in many activities on campus.  She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honors society, Purdue Pals, the Black Voices of Inspiration Choir, and the Society of Minority Managers. In addition, Agee also served as a social counselor for the Business Opportunity Program in the School of Management and was a member of the Mortar Board senior honors society at the time of her graduation. Following graduation, she was successfully employed at a variety of businesses, including the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Exxon, Dow Chemical, and Procter & Gamble, as well as running her own information technology business.

1990, Robert J. Taylor (M.E. ’60), Purdue’s first black trustee

“Taylor named Purdue trustee”   Taylor served as a member of Purdue’s board of trustees until 1996.

1990, Tarrus Richardson was elected as Purdue Student Body President

1991 Debris

In 1990, Tarrus Richardson became the first black Purdue Student Body President, with 70% of the vote. Richardson was very active on campus.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Purdue in 1991and a MBA from Harvard Business School in 1996. He later became CEO of IMB Development Corporation.


There are so many more diverse individuals in Purdue history who could be featured, and the Archives looks forward to continuing to preserve the histories of these individuals and share them with you. It is an honor to highlight the lives of Purdue pioneers who faced tremendous obstacles and persevered, forging the way for future generations of Boilermakers.

As part of Black History Month, and beyond, we aim to celebrate all individuals who helped make Purdue University the outstanding institution of higher learning it is today. To learn more about early African American life at Purdue, please contact us to view the references cited below, as well as related collections on the topic, in the Archives.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego (’82), Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. Post updated 7/29/19 with additional source information about Herman Murray, by Sammie Morris.


Cornelius, Alexandra, “Evolution of the Black Presence at Purdue University,” (1994, July 5) Purdue University African American Students, Alumni and Faculty collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections (Box 1, Folder 10), Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.

Whitford, F., & Martin, A. (2005). The grand old man of Purdue University and Indiana agriculture : A biography of William Carroll Latta. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press.

Stypa, Caitly Marie (2013). Purdue Girls: The Female Experience at a Land-Grant University, 1887-1913, Unpublished master’s thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Boonstra, Esther Conelley (1945). The Way it was at Purdue 1941-1945, Esther Conelly Boonstra collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, (Communal Collections 3, Placement 20), Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.

Debris Yearbook, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN., 18 February, 2018.

Related collections:

The records of the Black Cultural Center (BCC) are a treasure trove of source material on African American student life at Purdue, dating from circa 1969 to present. In partnership with the BCC Library, the Archives makes these records available for research and study.

The 2009 film Black Purdue, created by Jamar White, Derek Fordjour, Keith David, and the Purdue Black Alumni Organization provides excellent primary source material. The film includes interviews with many of the students and faculty involved in the early days of the founding of the Black Cultural Center. This film is available through both the Archives and through the media collection of the Black Cultural Center.


Sweet Shop Still Sweet Spot on Campus after 90 Years!

                                                                                                                                                                          The Sweet Shop has been a favorite meeting spot on campus for generations. Ninety years later, it is still going strong. If the walls could talk, they might tell tales of romance, struggles, friendships made, and futures forged. The Purdue Memorial Union opened in 1924. At that time, the dining facilities in the Union consisted of a cafeteria area with a soda fountain and a banquet service, all operating as one unit.

The first true Sweet Shop appeared in its own separate space in 1927, and was expanded to its present size in 1957. It has always been a special meeting spot on campus and a part of Purdue history. When it first opened, Purdue students often referred to it as the “Sweet Shop Lab.”  They would schedule time in the “lab” for the social side of their education.

As students wrote in the Purdue yearbook, the 1932 Debris:

“The ‘Sweet Shop’ provides a delightful rendezvous for Purdue students. The shop is a nook where students drink a cooling ‘coke,’ meet new friends and release themselves from the usual scholastic atmosphere. This service is in constant demand, and many leisure hours are spent enjoying the companionship of the ‘Sweet Shop.'” (pg 217)

Here are some of the earliest photographs of the soda fountain (Pre-Sweet Shop days).

From the Purdue Memorial Union publication, “Unchanged Traditionally, Yet Traditionally Changing,” 1974.




  Early 1920s





Photograph provided by the Purdue Memorial Union.



The soda-fountain was along one wall of the cafeteria in the early 1920s.





Photo provided by the Purdue Memorial Union




A full house reflects the popularity of the “lab.”





1925, Frank “Pappy” Fox starts working in the Sweet Shop.

Pappy (left) serving students, Debris 1950

Frank “Pappy” Fox was a beloved fixture in the Sweet Shop for over 30 years. He also managed the Barber Shop and Billiards Room from 1925-1959.

Per a Memorial Union brochure, “Frank served up sound advice and sympathy for student problems with his coffee, sandwiches and sodas. In return, the students showed great pride and respect for the Sweet Shop and quickly added a ‘Sweet Shop Lab’ to their schedules. Everyone who worked for Mr. and Mrs. Fox saw their sincere interest and devotion to the student body. Many ‘Sweet Shop Coke™ dates’ developed into romances under the happy guidance of ‘Mommy’ and ‘Pappy’ Fox.”  (Sterrett, Jeff., Gick, Becky, and Mindrum, Bob).

Fox planned the original menu for the Sweet Shop, which was never changed during his management. He developed his own chocolate sauce and blend of coffee. The early Sweet Shop’s favorite and standard snack was a ham salad sandwich. “Pappy dispensed 150 gallons of coffee per day and seven 40-gallon barrels of Coke™ per week.” (Sterrett)

The Purdue community owes “Pappy” much for his dedication to the Sweet Shop and those he served over the years. After renovations, the Sweet Shop became known as Pappy’s Sweet Shop, as a way to honor Fox.


Purdue Alumnus, September/October, 1959

Fox Honored during Homecoming 1959


There has been some speculation from unverified sources that Pappy was a bootlegger during prohibition and used the sweet shop as a cover. When the Sweet Shop was most recently renovated, that tidbit was even used in their marketing, and this is what appears today on a door by the cash registers (click the image for the full view):

Photo taken by Mary Sego

Images from the Sweet Shop through the years


Debris 1944


Debris 1955

Per page 83 of the 1955 Debris, “The Sweet Shop took on a more refined atmosphere as prom-goers rested their weary feet between dances.”

Pappy’s circa 1955 (Purdue Archives photo PPBUC00845)

The Sweet Shop was expanded in 1957 and the next redecoration took place in 1967.


Attendees of the 1960 Military Ball stop in the Sweet Shop for a drink.

Debris 1960

In order to provide efficient service to the many students who used the Sweet Shop, paper disposable-ware was introduced in the 1960s. This was a first in college union food service. (Anderson, Deborah J., Westbury, Edmond P., and Hughes, Melvin M., p. 7).

1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Sweet Shop resembled cafeteria-style food-service.

Debris 1986

Debris 1977








2000s – Diner-Style

Debris 2005

Pappy’s in 2004 (Purdue Archives photo PPBUC02352)


Sterrett, Jeff., Gick, Becky, and Mindrum, Bob. 75th Anniversary : Purdue Memorial Union. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University, 1999.

Anderson, Deborah J., Westbury, Edmond P., and Hughes, Melvin M. “Unchanged Traditionally, Yet Traditionally Changing.” West Lafayette (IN): Purdue University, Purdue Memorial Union, 1974.

Debris Yearbook, Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN., 9 June 2017.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego, Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.  Mary would like to thank Bob Mindrum, Director of the Purdue Memorial Union (1995-2016), for his contributions of photographs, brochures, and most importantly, personal stories in the compilation of this blog post.

‘Lil Orphan Annie Attends Purdue

Did you know that Harold Gray, the creator of ‘Lil Orphan Annie, was a Purdue grad?

Harold Lincoln Gray was born near Kankakee, Illinois, on January 20, 1894, to Ira Lincoln Gray, a farmer, and Estella M. Rosencrans. As a child, his family moved to a farm near West Lafayette, Indiana. Gray graduated from West Lafayette High School in 1912. After graduation he entered Purdue University. Due to losing both parents before he graduated high school, Gray had to serve as a construction worker to pay his college tuition. During college he also worked for the Lafayette Morning Journal creating cartoons and selling advertising.

Gray’s activities while a Purdue student. 1917 Debris yearbook

Gray was assistant art editor for the Debris yearbook for three years and art editor during his senior year. He drew political cartoons for the yearbook and also for the Exponent student newspaper. He served briefly as a reporter for the Exponent as well. Gray graduated from Purdue in 1917 with a Bachelor of Science degree. As was customary in yearbooks of the era, his name was listed along with nicknames such as “Grace” and “Cart.” Below his entry in the yearbook is the phrase “Oh! what a noble mind.”

Gray, 1917 Debris yearbook

Gray’s early student artwork published in the 1916 and 1917 Debris yearbooks speaks to Purdue life from the student perspective, and provides a glimpse of the artistic style for which he would later become known. It has been said that his artwork “cast a spell that enhanced his story. Filling his drawings with solid blacks, heavy shadows, and darkly shaded nooks and crannies.” (Harvey, 2013)

From the 1916 Debris

Gray’s artwork from 1916 Debris

Artwork done by Gray for a Purdue Student Handbook

Gray’s artwork from the 1917 Debris (his senior year)

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

A week after graduating from Purdue, Gray accepted a job as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, at a salary of $15 a week. He soon transitioned to the art department. Gray left the Tribune to enlist in the Army during World War I. He became a bayonet instructor, and rose to the rank of second lieutenant.  After a short period in the Army he returned to the Chicago Tribune where he began a 5-year apprenticeship as an assistant to Sidney Smith on the comic “The Gumps.” Gray appreciated the training he received from Smith and began to develop some of his own ideas. At first he created a prototype boy hero and named him “Little Orphan Otto.” At the suggestion of an influential friend from his days at the Tribune, Joseph Medill Patterson, Gray drew a dress on  the figure and renamed the character “Annie.” Part of this was because there were 50 boy comic strips at this time and only 3 girl comics. Both the Tribune and the New York Daily News launched “Little Orphan Annie,” on August 5, 1924.  The main characters, “Annie,” her dog “Sandy,” and her billionaire foster father, “Daddy Warbucks,” soon took a growing number of readers on adventures, many with a slant toward social commentary.

Gray did not forget his Indiana and Purdue roots. Some of the strips from 1927-1929 featured adventures in Lafayette, Indiana and the vicinity, including Purdue University. Since Gray enjoyed exploring Happy Hollow Park as a boy, his comic strip often mentioned a fictional Happy Hollow Seminary.

In the comic below, Little Orphan Annie prepares to go to Purdue.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

In the following cartoons from 1928 and 1929, Annie again interacts with Purdue. Note the Purdue pennant in the first frame, and mention of “Happy Hollow” in the 3rd. Please click on the comic strips to get a better view.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

In these comics, Annie studies hard, while Gray reflects on his college days.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Annie has a touch of spring fever, is happy Purdue beat its rival Indiana University, and learns about some famous Purdue alumni. Note the Purdue pillow that is prominently displayed.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Bob Kriebel, a columnist for the Lafayette Journal and Courier newspaper wrote that Gray’s character, Annie, in many ways “reflected Gray’s personal convictions that all Americans should act with honor, independence of thought and industry; mind their own business and remain true to the traditional pioneering virtues.” (Kriebel, June 3, 2016)

The “Annie” cartoon took on a more political color in the 1930s.  Eventually, the comic strip incorporated subtle commentary from Gray on income tax, organized labor, communism, left-wingers, food and fueling rationing, and public welfare. In regard to the latter, he named one of his characters Mrs. Bleeding Heart.

MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

By the late 1930s, hundreds of U.S. newspapers presented “Annie” to tens of millions of readers. Gray was sometimes criticized for his use of the comic strip to voice his conservative Republican political and social views. When he died of lymphatic cancer on May 9, 1968, in La Jolla, California, Gray was a millionaire, owing much of his wealth to his creation of “Annie.” Other artists later tried to draw “Annie,” but not with the same success. In the fall of 1979, Leonard Starr began writing and drawing new adventures under the title “Annie.”

In October 1995, the U.S. Postal Service chose “Little Orphan Annie” as one of 20 “Comic Strip Classics” in a series of commemorative stamps.  Gray was also part of a select group of artists inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Museum of Cartoon Art.

“Little Orphan Annie” as one of 20 “Comic Strip Classics” in a series of commemorative stamps from 1995.

Article by Mary A. Sego, Purdue Archives Processing Assistant.


MSA 255, Collection on Harold Gray, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Harvey, R.C. (2013, May 13). “The Orphan’s Epic.” The Comics Journal. Retrieved from

Kriebel, Bob. (2016, June 3). ‘Annie’ cartoonist got his start in Lafayette. Journal & Courier. Retrieved from

Thomis, Wayne. (1968, May 10), “Harold Gray, Orphan Annie’s Creator, Dies in West at 74.” Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from

Remembering Amelia Earhart’s Round-the-World Flight: The 80th Anniversary of Her “Shining Adventure” (Part 2 of 2)

Amelia Earhart kept notes from the different legs of her flight, and those notes are part of her papers in the Archives and Special Collections at Purdue. Some pages of her notes exhibit oil stains or other indications that she made them while in flight. The New York Herald Tribune had exclusive rights to her story, and Earhart remained in contact with the paper throughout her flight, sending telegrams from the various locations where she stopped to refuel.

MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries



To read the entire telegram, please click on image.





Purdue Exponent, March 16, 1937

Purdue Exponent, March 17, 1937, p.1







The New York Herald Tribune shared Earhart’s account of the flight with the Purdue Exponent.








Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart, Harry Manning, and Fred Noonan being photographed in front of Earhart’s plane, Oakland Airport, California, March 17, 1937. MSP 9.

Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart, Harry Manning, and Fred Noonan standing in front of the nose of Earhart’s plane, Oakland Airport [?], California,  March 17, 1937. MSP 9.

The takeoff of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane from the Oakland Airport in California, March 17, 1937. This was the last test-hop of the flight before heading out over the Pacific. MSP 9.


The long anticipated flight had begun, and the Purdue Exponent shared the excitement with the Purdue community.

Purdue Exponent, March 18, 1937.






All three clips are from one front page Purdue Exponent article.








With 900 gallons of gasoline on board, Earhart finally takes off from Luke Field for Howland Island. Earhart’s first attempt resulted in disaster and a damaged plane.

Purdue Alumnus, March 1937, Vol. XXIV, No. 6, p. 3

Paul Mantz, members of the United States Army Air Corp, and others observing the wrecked Lockheed Electra plane after Earhart crashed while attempting to take off from Luke Field, Hawaii to Howland Island, March 20, 1937. MSP 9.

People watch as mechanics work on repairing the wrecked Lockheed Electra plane after Earhart crashed while attempting to take off from Luke Field, Hawaii to Howland Island, March 20, 1937. MSP 9.

The following are accounts from Last Flight, which was compiled from Earhart’s logs and journal writings by George Palmer Putnam after her death. It was to be titled World Flight.

“There was not the slightest indication of anything abnormal. Ten seconds later the airplane which brought us so gallantly to Honolulu lay helpless on the concrete runway, a poor battered bird with broken wings.”

“As for the crew, only our spirits were bruised when this sudden disaster overtook us. By good fortune, Harry Manning, Fred Noonan and I emerged without a scratch. But the plane, her landing gear wiped off and one wing damaged, was a sad sight to see. At that, the comparatively slight damage was a fine testimonial to the sturdiness of Lockheed construction – such an accident might well result in a total wash-out.”

“Witnesses said the tire blew. However, studying the tracks carefully, I believe that may not have been the primary cause of the accident. Possibly the landing gear’s right shock absorber, as it lengthened, may have given way.” “Watchers on the ground saw the wing drop. Suddenly the plane pulled to my right. I reduced the power on the opposite engine and succeeded in swinging from the right to the left. For a moment I thought I would be able to gain control and straighten the course. But, alas, the load was so heavy, once it started an arc there was nothing to do but let the plane ground loop as easily as possible.”

“With the excessive weight, the landing gear on the right was wrenched free and gasoline sprayed from the drain-well. That there was no fire was surely the result of the generous good wishes which had come from all over the world. No one of the three of us on board was even shaken, a testimony to the safety of a modern metal plane such as mine.”

“In retrospect, I am thankful that the failure occurred where it did rather than in some isolated corner of the world far from help.”  “And I must say a good word for Fred Noonan and Harry Manning. They were both as game as could be. In fact, when the first when reached the plane and opened the cabin door, they found Fred Methodically folding up his charts. He said that when I flew again he was ready to go along” (Last Flight, 70-72).

From March – May, 1937 the Lockheed Electra was back in California being repaired.

Again, in Earhart’s words:

“Like broken bones which Nature knits slowly in her own special process, the injured parts of an airplane must be painstakingly restored.” There is no short cut to full usefulness in either case if perfect healing is desired. In addition to “healing,” a strengthening of certain members to withstand the excessive strain to which overloading subjects them was in order in my Electra. This meant some actual redesigning, another process which could not be hurried. As to the precious engines, they were already in the Pacific Airmotive shops at Burbank being thoroughly checked. After the plane and engines were together, some time would have to be allowed for testing.”

With the rebuilding of the plane in hand, our next task was to appraise the effect of delay upon our flying plans. We had picked mid-March as about the best time for the flight from standpoint of weather – so far as one could expect consistent “bests” on such a long route. Setting back the date three month would see seasons relentlessly progress. In some places progress would be with benefit to pilots, in others the reverse. Here rains began, there they abated, here winds were favorable, there monsoons and choking dust storms were due. So we set to studying again the weather maps of the world and consulting with meteorologists who knew the habits of fogs and rains with temperatures around the long equator.”

“The upshot of those consultations was that I decided to reverse the direction originally chosen for the flight. Earlier it had seemed that the advantage lay in passage to the west; at the later date the contrary appeared true. After all, for practical purposes and disregarding Mr. Einstein, the world measures the same distance from west to east, as east to west, on any given route”  (Last Flight, 75-76).

Stay tuned, as we relive Amelia Earhart’s Round-the-World Flight, in celebration of the 80th anniversary…


Earhart, Amelia, and George Palmer Putnam. Last Flight. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937. Print.

MSF 450, Amelia Earhart at Purdue Collection, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Vertical Files, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Purdue Student Publishing Foundation, and Purdue University. The Purdue Exponent (1889). Print.

Editor’s Note: Writer Mary A. Sego is an archival assistant and processing specialist within Archives and Special Collections.

Remembering Amelia Earhart’s Round-the-World Flight: The 80th Anniversary of Her “Shining Adventure” (Part 1 of 2)

Eighty years ago Amelia Earhart attempted to become the first person to fly around the world at the longest distance, along the equator. She disappeared during this flight, and the mystery of what happened to Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and her Lockheed Electra airplane continues to fascinate and intrigue us. During that fateful summer of 1937, the Purdue Exponent student newspaper, with the co-operation of the New York Herald Tribune, kept readers updated on Earhart’s flight progress. In this post, we will relive her amazing 27,000-mile journey by sharing features from the Exponent, a first-hand account from one of Earhart’s friends, and handwritten notes that Earhart took to summarize each leg of her flight, which she subsequently shared with the news media and planned to compile into a book.

Letter to Amelia Earhart from President Elliott, thanking her for accepting the position at Purdue in the fall, dated June 4, 1935. MSP 9.

Amelia Earhart and Purdue’s paths first crossed in September 1934 when she addressed the fourth annual “Women and the Changing World” Conference sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune. Purdue President Edward Elliott was at the same conference to speak on “New Frontiers for Youth.” He stayed to listen to Earhart speak on aviation’s future and the role of women in its advancement. Elliott, intrigued by her speech, arranged to meet her and her husband, George Palmer Putnam. Elliott and Putnam hit it off. After they dined at the Coffee House Club in New York, Elliott got right to the point, letting Earhart know that he wanted her to work at Purdue, where she would be in a role to inspire Purdue’s approximately 800 women students to seize new opportunities in America’s changing society.


MSP 188, Collection of Amelia Earhart Related Materials, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries


Elliott and Earhart sat down and worked out the details. Due to Earhart’s busy schedule, she could not be a full-time faculty member, but she would attempt to spend at least one month at the university during the school year as a careers consultant for women students. Purdue in turn would pay her a $2,000 salary (Boomhower, 38). Along with guiding women students toward new careers, she also served as a technical adviser in aeronautics to Purdue, which was, at that time, the only university in the country equipped with its own airport. The connection between Amelia Earhart and Purdue University had begun. It would later expand in ways they could not have imagined.

Vertical Files, Amelia Earhart.

Although she spent only a short amount of time at Purdue, Earhart’s ties to Purdue played a key role in securing the money and equipment necessary for attempting her round-the-world flight. On April 19, 1936 the university announced the establishment of the Amelia Earhart Fund for Aeronautical Research. With contributions totaling approximately $50,000 from J.K. Lilly, Sr. and David Ross, and later donations of cash and equipment from companies such as Bendix, Western Electric, Goodrich, and Goodyear, Earhart purchased her “flying laboratory,” a twin-motored Lockheed Electra 10E airplane that would allow her to attempt her greatest long-distance flight yet, to circumnavigate the globe.


Letter from Amelia Earhart to Edward Elliott acknowledging receipt of letters concerning her leave of absence from her position as Consultant in Careers for Women, and the use of the Purdue University Airport in connection with her flight, May 8, 1936. MSF 450.














The Purdue Research Foundation established the “Amelia Earhart Fund for Aeronautical Research” and Earhart purchased a new “flying laboratory,” April 21, 1936.

Purdue Exponent, April 21, 1936








Financial statement in regard to Lockheed and flight expenses, provided by George Palmer Putnam to President Elliott, September 26, 1936. MSF 450.

The plane was constructed at the Lockheed factory in Burbank, California, and included special features, such as extra gas tanks for long-distance flights, automatic pilot, deicing equipment, a radio homing device, and a two-way radio.

Close-up view of Amelia Earhart standing in the cockpit and looking over plans prior to finished construction on her Lockheed Electra plane, Burbank, California. MSP 9.

Vertical Files, Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart sitting atop her Lockheed Electra plane with group of Purdue students, September 20, 1936. MSF 450.

Preparing for the world flight was a huge undertaking. During preparations, Earhart was asked numerous times why she decided to attempt this flight. Her answer was always “because I want to.” She called the trip a “shining adventure, beckoning with new experiences, adding knowledge of flying, of peoples, of myself” (Boomhower 41).  She also noted that with the flight behind her, she would become more useful to herself and to the aeronautical program at Purdue (Earhart, Last Flight 55). She called the Electra her “flying laboratory” because her intent was to use the plane to conduct research on the effects of long-distance flying on pilots . Once the flight was accomplished, the plane would be returned to Purdue where it would be used to further pure and applied scientific research in aeronautics. Royalties from the book Earhart planned to write about her flight would also support this research.

Bo McNeeley, Earhart’s mechanic, Amelia Earhart, and Captain L.I. Aretz inspecting the Lockheed Electra plane at the Purdue University Airport, circa 1936. MSF 450.

Earhart was to attempt her world flight twice. Originally, her flight team included Fred Noonan and Harry Manning. The original plans were for Noonan to navigate from Hawaii to Howland Island, a particularly difficult portion of the flight; then Harry Manning would continue with Earhart to Australia and she would proceed on her own for the remainder of the project.

As Earhart prepared for her world flight, anticipation continued to grow both on campus and in the minds of the public. Americans wanted to keep up to date on the progress of Earhart’s latest adventure. Purdue students claimed her as one of their own, and waited anxiously to hear of her progress.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan with map of the Pacific showing the route for their world flight, circa 1937. MSP 9.

Earhart is ready for flight, March 11, 1937.

Purdue Exponent, March 11, 1937, p. 1, c. 2-3

Earhart is ready for flight, March 11, 1937. MSP 9.


 To be continued…                            


Boomhower, R. “Amelia Earhart at Purdue: The aviatrix and the university.” Traces, Summer (1994): 36-41.

Earhart, Amelia, and George Palmer Putnam. Last Flight. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937. Print.

MSF 450, Amelia Earhart at Purdue Collection, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

MSP 188, Collection of Amelia Earhart Related Materials, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Vertical Files, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Purdue Student Publishing Foundation, and Purdue University. The Purdue Exponent (1889). Print.

Editor’s Note: Writer Mary A. Sego is an archival assistant and processing specialist within Archives and Special Collections.

1967 Rose Bowl, Purdue Astronauts and the Anticipation of the Moon


January 2, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Purdue’s win against the University of Southern California in the 1967 Rose Bowl game. The theme for the 1967 Tournament of Roses parade was “Travel Tales in Flowers.”

Rose Bowl program from alum, Gary J. Glazer papers

Rose Bowl program from alum Gary J. Glazer papers

This comes as no surprise considering NASA’s success with the space program and its mission to land a man on the Moon, per mandate of recently slain President Kennedy. In 1967 the American public was waiting with bated breath to see NASA land an astronaut on the Moon. The Soviet Union had entered the race first with the successful launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957.  President Eisenhower reacted slowly, but eventually set the gears in motion to launch the United States’ first satellite, Explorer 1, four months later on February 1, 1958.


Pamphlet distributed to nation-wide outlets hailing the achievements of Purdue, from Purdue University Athletics Collection.

In anticipation of the Rose Bowl game and the guaranteed national media coverage, the Purdue University News Service created promotional documentation that they sent to newspapers, radio stations, and television stations all over the country so that they could accurately tell news stories about Purdue.  These news bulletins documented information about the school ranging from the official colors, mascot, and famous alumni to different education programs. Also included were photographs, the float that the students created for the parade, and stories about the astronaut alumni anxiously awaiting their ride to the Moon. One bulletin boasts “Purdue University had aviation ‘in its blood’ before it had Rose Bowl fever.”  This bulletin goes on to celebrate the pioneering history of Purdue aviation by telling of early years of the airport and the connection the university has with Amelia Earhart.  Another bulletin titled “Purdue Astronauts on Moon, Natural as Apple Pie,” opens with the eerie prediction, “It would be hard to imagine reaching the moon without a piece of Purdue going along.”  The bulletin continues talking about how there is as much anticipation for the Apollo mission as there is the Rose Bowl.


“A Purdue tribute to the heroism of her men” 1967 Debris, p. 549.

The float that Purdue students constructed for the 1967 Tournament of Roses parade honored four of their own Purdue alumni astronauts at the time of the game. The float depicts a Gemini capsule and the names of the four current Purdue astronauts: Armstrong, Cernan, Chaffee, and Grissom, along with the caption, “Alma Mater of Astronauts.”

Footage of 1967 Tournament of Roses Parade Courtesy of Purdue University Athletic Department



Above is Armstrong’s Debris yearbook photo from 1954. He is second from the left.

Neil A. Armstrong

At the time of the Rose Bowl, Neil Armstrong had already completed the Gemini 8 mission. The significance of this mission was the successful rendezvous and docking with another spacecraft.

Finding Aid for the Neil A. Armstrong papers

Gene Cernan


Above, third from the left, Cernan is pictured here in his 1956 Purdue Debris yearbook photo.

By 1967 Gene Cernan had completed the Gemini 9A mission. Lasting from June 3 to June 6, 1966, NASA planned for Cernan to complete a spacewalk, strap into the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), and perform tasks while rendezvousing with an Agena Target Vehicle. This task was not easily completed. Cernan struggled tremendously moving about while spacewalking. His suit became rigged, his visor fogged up, and there were not enough hand-holds and foot-holds on the craft for Cernan to steady himself. To make things worse, the Agena Target Vehicle failed to release its casing, making it impossible for Cernan to complete that part of the mission.

Finding Aid for the Eugene Cernan papers


Virgil “Gus” Grissom’s yearbook photo from the Purdue Debris 1950. Grissom is on the far right.

Gus Grissom

Gus Grissom was the first Purdue graduate that NASA chose to be an astronaut.  NASA selected Grissom as part of the Mercury 7.  This group of astronauts flew the single piloted Mercury missions.  NASA selected Grissom, along with Alan Sheppard and John Glenn, for the first Mercury flight.  Sheppard eventually received the seat on the first flight, but Grissom flew the second sub-orbital mission.

Virgil I. Grissom papers

Roger Chaffee


Roger Chaffee’s yearbook photo from the 1957 Purdue Debris. He is first on the left.

At the time of the 1967 Rose Bowl, Roger Chaffee was a rookie. He had not yet completed any spaceflights but was the capsule communicator for the Gemini 4 mission. Chaffee graduated from Purdue in 1957 with Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. Chaffee was killed along with Gus Grissom and Ed White in the Apollo 1 fire.

Roger B. Chaffee letter and postcard

The 1967 Rose Bowl was the first time Purdue had ever been to a bowl game, and it was a special milestone to many. The astronauts were just as excited about the 1967 Rose Bowl as other fans. Memorabilia from the game can be found among various astronauts’ papers.

Ticket and Pamphlet from the Jerry L. Ross papers

Program and Ticket from the Jerry L. Ross papers

Jerry Ross was not yet an astronaut at the time of the 1967 Rose Bowl. He was a student at Purdue in his junior year and watched the game from the stands.  His ticket and program from the Rose Bowl are a part of his papers, which he donated to the Purdue Archives in 2012.

Jerry L. Ross papers

“For Purdue, it was enough that we were there playing in the Rose Bowl. We didn’t have to win it to be satisfied. I had many great football memories after that, but certainly, the 1967 Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of my collegiate career. I felt a great sense of responsibility and was real proud of what we did. Taking the fans and everyone to the Rose Bowl was the greatest highlight, for me. Just being out there, seeing all the people, going to the Christmas party, visiting Universal Studios, eating at Lowery’s. The overriding factor was that we were taking part in something no one else had. We were the first, and there’s something to be said for that.”   – Bob Griese, 2002

The overriding factor was that we were taking part in something no one else had. We were the first, and there’s something to be said for that.” The astronauts most likely felt the same about their mission to reach the Moon.

roseFootage of 1967 Rose Bowl Game:


1967 Debris, page 558








The Purdue football team gave Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee each a football signed by the 1967 Purdue Football team. The football pictured here was given to Armstrong. It is part of the Neil A. Armstrong papers, which reside in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center at Purdue.

MSA 5, Neil A. Armstrong papers, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSA 5, Neil A. Armstrong papers

Note that near the “Made in the U.S.A.” text on the football, below the laces, is the signature of star quarterback and Purdue football legend, Bob Griese.

Note that near the “Made in the U.S.A.” text on the football, below the laces, is the signature of star quarterback and Purdue football legend Bob Griese.











champsThis football game represents a moment in the history of the Space Age filled with anticipation. Both the American public and NASA knew that the impending goal of landing a man on the Moon crept ever closer each day. As 1966 came to a close, so did the Gemini series of missions. These missions set the groundwork for the Apollo missions that lay ahead. Gemini proved that astronauts could stay in space for long periods of time and survive a lengthy three-day trip to the Moon. It also proved that spacecraft could be piloted and controlled in space. The Gemini spacecraft was the first spacecraft to have controls similar to an aircraft. The astronauts were able to adapt more easily than the mostly autonomous controls of the Mercury capsule. Living and working in space, rendezvous and docking, and long duration spaceflights became possible due to Gemini.pennant

1967 meant more than a new year and first time opportunities for the participants and attendees at the Rose Bowl.  It meant the beginning of a new era in space travel.  An era when astronauts went somewhere other than Earth’s orbit, it meant succeeding in trumping the Soviet Union’s Space program once and for all, and finally it meant completing President Kennedy’s grand goal that he set during his tragically cut short presidency. The Moon was within reach.

Visit this page for a history of Purdue’s college football bowl appearances.

Co-authored by Mary A. Sego, Archives Processing Assistant, and Max Campbell, former Graduate Assistant, Purdue University Libraries Archives and Special Collections.

Remembering and Honoring Our Purdue World War I Veterans Who Gave Their Lives – Lest We Forget

The idea for the construction of a Purdue Union was first suggested by an undergraduate in 1912. He wanted a building where students could meet and work on their various extracurricular activities. The class of 1912 voted an assessment of $5 from each senior to start a fund to erect a home for students, alumni, and faculty activities. Succeeding classes followed the same procedure until 1917.

Photo by Mary Sego – Click on Image

Then came the Great War (World War I). At its close, Purdue looked at the record of 4,013 men and women in the service, at the 67 gold stars, and in many minds there arose the thought that the Union should stand as a permanent memorial to those who had died for it. With this in mind the “Purdue Memorial Union” came into being.
In June of 1922, ground was broken for the Purdue Memorial Union. The building was opened for use in September of 1924. Five additions have been added to the original structure since that time.

A plaque listing the names of those Purdue men who lost their lives during World War I appears on the wall to the right of the main entrance to the Purdue Memorial Union.

“To Perpetuate the Memory of These Men, the Members of the Class of 1926 of Purdue University Have Donated this Tablet.”       

The plaque as it appeared on November 11, 1934 during President Edward C. Elliott’s Armistice Day radio address (Purdue Archives photo #PPBUC00797)

As one passes the plaque in the Union bearing the names of those who lost their lives, one wonders what they were like as students or how their short, promising lives came to an end. Many of them came to Purdue for military training; some cut their educations short or put careers on hold. Others made it through the majority of the war, only to face diseases and medical conditions that they could not win the battle against. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 took more lives than the war itself, and many died from it before the armistice between the Allies of World War I and Germany, which took effect in the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. All gave their lives defending our country in one form or another, and out of respect for them, this document was compiled to provide an enduring record of who they were.


World War I barracks on campus (Purdue Archives photo #PPBUC00915)

Information about the veterans was first sought through the Debris yearbook. In its earliest days, the Debris yearbook often supplied a caption which noted a senior’s activities and sometimes a note about one’s personality. The quotes about each came from those entries. For those who enlisted before they finished their educations at Purdue or came to Purdue solely for military training, other sources were used to find biographical information. The “EX” on the plaque indicates the year the men left Purdue for the service. Otherwise the year indicated is the year they graduated from Purdue.

These are the 67 Purdue World War I veterans who died serving their country.

Killed in Action:  

Arthur H. Berges, ‘10


Berges, 1910 Debris

Berges graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. While he was a student he was a member of the M.E. Society, Governing Council, and Forum Debating Society.

“Berges stands in a class by himself…”

Jack Burns, ’17      

Burns was killed in action on the battlefield. No further information is available.

Sharon McKinley Danford, EX- ‘17 

Danford entered the service December 3, 1917, in Indianapolis, IN.  He was sent to Ft. Thomas, KY, and then overseas in April 1918. He was assigned to Company D, 1st Army Supply Train. While stationed in Toul Sector, he was killed in a motor truck accident, November 6, 1918, and was buried in Toul, France.

Joseph Gray Duncan, ‘08

Duncan 1908

Duncan, 1908 Debris

Duncan received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He was a merchant and enlisted in U.S. Regular Army in August 1917. He was commissioned Captain at Ft. Niagara, NY, assigned to 315th Infantry, 79th Division. He sailed overseas July 7, 1918.

Duncan was killed in action September 20, 1918, near Montfaucon and buried near Montfaucon, France. He was cited for bravery in action.

James Blaine Fellinger, ’16

Fellinger was killed in action July 25, 1918. No further information is available.

Stimson Webb Goddard, EX- ’18

Corporal Stimson Webb Goddard, Company H, 138th  Infantry was killed in the Argonne Forest, France, on October 2, 1918.

John M. Ginney (no date given)

Ginney went to California in early 1917 and was employed on a ranch when he enlisted in Company M, 7th Infantry, California National Guard. He was sent to Camp Kearney, CA.  He went overseas in June 1918, assigned to Company F, 58th Infantry, 4th Division. He was killed in action on August 6, 1918, near Bazoches and was buried in Fismes Aisne, France. The American Legion Post, Bunker Hill, IN is named in his honor.

Willard E. Hensley, EX- ‘17


Hensley circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold star Honor Roll: a record of Indiana men and women who died in the service of the United States and the allied nations in the world war.

Willard Hensley attended Purdue for one term and was then employed as a clerk in an agricultural store. He enlisted in the United States Marines on June 13, 1917, in Indianapolis, IN, was then sent to Port Royal, SC, and transferred to Quantico, VA. Hensley was then sent overseas on October 6, 1917, assigned to 97th Company, 6th Regiment, 2nd Division.

He was killed in action June 6, 1918, near Bouresches and buried there. The American Legion Post, Morristown, IN, is named in his honor.

Benjamin H. Hewitt, ‘11


Hewitt, 1911 Debris

Hewitt graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. As a student, he was a member of the Civil Engineering Society, Purdue Athletic Association, and the Varsity Football Squad.

“With as wise a head and as big a heart as is his, the future can show but one word – Success.”

Floyd D. Holmes, EX- ‘13


Holmes. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Holmes was educated at Purdue and became a journalist. He enlisted in Company D, 31st Infantry, Michigan National Guard, Detroit, MI, June 4, 1917. He was sent to Camp McArthur, TX, and then sent overseas in January 1918. He was assigned to Company D, 125th Infantry, 32nd Division. Holmes was killed in action July 31, 1918, near Cierges. He is buried in American Cemetery, Seringes-et-Nesles, Plot 3, Sec. R, Grave No. 144.

Alexander Ferdinand Matthews, EX- ’17

Matthews was a Mechanical Engineering major at Purdue. He was also an alum of Cornell. He served during the war as a First Lieutenant, Aviation, and was killed in action, July 1918. No further information is available.


Worsham circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Elijah William Worsham, EX –‘08

Worsham was a graduate of Purdue. He saw service on the Mexican Border in 1912 as First Lieutenant of a Machine Gun Company. He re-enlisted in April 1917 and was sent to Camp Lewis, WA. Promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Machine Gun Company, 326th Infantry, and later to Captain. He was killed in action September 29, 1918, in Meuse-Argonne Offensive and was buried in the Argonne Forest.


Died of Wounds:

Frank Seely, EX- ’97 

Seely died of wounds on the battlefield. No further information is available.

Robert Earl Symmonds, EX- ’16

Symmonds entered the Military Academy in June 1914. He soon endeared himself to those with whom he came in contact by his never-failing good humor and quiet friendliness. He graduated on August 30, 1917, and was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont. In December 1917, he was assigned to Headquarters Troop, 2nd Division, and proceeded overseas. On June 27, 1918, he was promoted to be a temporary Captain of Cavalry. While with the above organization he took part in the fighting at Belleau Woods, Soissons, and St. Mihiel.

He then left the division, taking a short course of instruction at the Machine Gun School at Sangres, on the completion of which he was reassigned to the 2nd Division and ordered to report for duty with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion. On the afternoon of November 3, 1918, he reported to the commanding officer of this organization, which was then heavily engaged with the enemy in the Meuse–Argonne offensive. Upon reporting he requested that he be assigned to a company that was in actual contact with the enemy. He was consequently placed in command of Company D, which that very night made an attack upon a ridge just south of Beaumont. It was while leading his company in this attack that he was mortally wounded. He was removed to a nearby hospital, where he died November 22, 1918.

These facts were given in a letter by his commanding officer.

Leslie C. Weishaar, EX- ’18 


Weishaar, 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Weishaar studied Mechanical Engineering at Purdue and entered the service September 5, 1918. He was sent to Camp Taylor and assigned to 34th Company, 9th Training Battalion, 159th Depot Brigade. Weishaar died of influenza on October 16, 1918, at Camp Taylor, KY. He was buried in the Brook Cemetery, Brook, IN.

Walter Dewey White, EX- ’15 

White was a Private in the 309th Infantry. He died of wounds on November 9, 1918. No further information is available.


Wilson, 1912 Debris

Richard Morton Wilson, ’12

Wilson was from Cincinnati, OH. He received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue and was a member of ASME, the Harlequin Club, and Athletic Association.

“Very few have studied as little, cut as much and still made as many A’s as the ‘Billiken’… With his ability to work electrical problems, we believe he will someday be another Steinmetz, provided he stays away from the Cincinnati Traction Co., and quits ‘riding the rods’.”


Died in Foreign Service:


Buell, 1908 Debris

Frank Andrew Buell, ‘08

Buell graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, member of Varsovienne Club, Ohio Club, Athletic Association, and Color Guard Cadet Corps.

“‘Shorty’ hails from the city of Toledo.  He has completed the four years’ of work in three and attracted the attention of the Tau Betas by the manner in which he did it.”

Warren Francis Fisherdick, ‘18

Fisherdick enlisted for service in 1917 as a member of Company F, 16th Railway Engineers. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in November 1918 but died of disease in Base Hospital No. 79, Bazrilles Sur Meuse, France, on February 20, 1919.

Charles F. Greene, EX- ’15

Green died in France in the service of his country on October 10, 1918. No further information is available.

Edward John Harty, EX- ’16

The exact years Harty attended Purdue are unknown. He moved to Tippecanoe County in 1896 and was a railroad employee. He entered the service February 10, 1918, in Brooklyn, NY. He was assigned to 77th Machine Gun Company, 306th Infantry, 77th Division. He went overseas on March 18, 1918, and was made prisoner by the Germans in July 1918. Harty contracted a disease as a prisoner of war and died December 22, 1918, in Vichy, France, where he was buried.

Reginald Wallace Hughes, ‘06


Hughes, 1906 Debris

Hughes graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta, the Athletic Association, and Exponent and Debris staffs. His thesis was on tests of steam automobiles.

After Purdue he was an employee of Fletcher Savings and Trust Company. He entered Second Officers Training Camp, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN on August 1917 and was commissioned Captain. He was then sent to Camp Funston, Kansas; assigned to 164th Field Artillery, Bridgade Headquarters, 89th Division; and went overseas June 23, 1918, with Army occupation into Germany. He died of pneumonia February 1, 1918, in Bitburg, Germany.

Howard William Irwin, ‘03  

Irwin 1903

Irwin, 1903 Debris

Irwin, nicknamed “Flicker,” was from Northhampton, MA. He graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, was a member of Mandolin Club and Phi Delta Theta, and took Efficiency Test in the Home Heating Company, Indianapolis, IN.

“A romantic young man with a passionate desire for the society of young ladies. Fond of displaying his skill for the use of the French language. Operator of the dog house in the mandolin club. Owner of a fifteen pound blue and white sweater. Morose and jolly by turns. He will get along in the world.”

After graduating from Purdue he worked for General Electric in Schenectady, NY, Northern Electric in MN, and later Bay State Railway in Boston. On June 10, 1910, he entered the Army as Captain of Engineers. In France he was superintendent of a major railway system. He died of bronchial pneumonia on January 6, 1919, at Tours, France.

Harold Douglas MacLachlan, EX- ’14

MacLachlan was a Mechanical Engineering major while a student at Purdue. He was a Major in the 13th Regiment, United States Marines and died of disease on September 27, 1918.

Gladstone Bertram Newhouse, EX- ‘20


Newhouse circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Newhouse was a student at Purdue when he enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army in May of 1917. He was sent to Jefferson Barracks, MO and then assigned to Troop M, 21st Calvary. He was transferred to Camp Logan, TX and assigned to Battery F, 79th Field Artillery, 7th Division. On August 18, 1918, Newhouse was sent overseas. He died of pneumonia on September 17, 1918, in Ploermel, France, and was buried in an American cemetery, grave no. 55,  Camp Coctquidan, France.

Elmer Earl Rothenberger, EX- ‘18


Rothenberger, 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Rothenberger was a student at Purdue when he enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army in Air Service on November 3, 1917, in Austin, Texas. He trained at Kelly Field, TX and went overseas on May 20, 1918. Rothernberger was an instructor in Aerial Observation at Chatillon-sur-Seine, where he was accidentally killed September 4, 1918. He was buried at St. Thibault, France. He left behind a widow, Ruth Aldrich Rothenberger, of Lafayette, IN.

Carl James Shipe, EX- ‘19 

Shipe 1919

Shipe, 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Carl Shipe was a student at Purdue when he enlisted in First Officers Training Camp, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN in May 1917. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and sent to Camp Taylor, KY; then to Washington, DC, to Camp Wadsworth, SC, and later Camp Colt, PA. He was sent overseas on August 30, 1918, and assigned to Company B, 328th Infantry. He died of spinal meningitis on January 8, 1919, Haute Marne, France. He was buried in an American cemetery, grave 48, Haute Marne, France.

Earl Thomas Steinhart, EX- ‘18

Steinhart 1918

Steinhart, 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Steinhart was a Purdue student when he enlisted in Quartermaster Corps, Regular Army on August 26, 1917, Washington Barracks, DC, and transferred to Camp Meigs, Washington, DC. He was assigned to Headquarters Repair Unit No. 301, Motor Transport Corps. Steinhart was sent overseas on January 4, 1918, and assigned to Administration Company, 13th Motor Transport Corps.  He died of pneumonia, March 3, 1918, in Verneuil, France, and was buried in the American cemetery there.

Ernest Raymond Warbritton, EX- ‘10

Warbritton 1910

Warbritton, 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Warbritton studied at Purdue in Civil Engineering. He entered First Officer’s Training Camp, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN in May 1917. He was sent to Camp Sherman, OH and later assigned to Company B, 334th Infantry, 84th (Lincoln) Division. He was sent overseas September 1, 1918, and died October 14, 1918, Hospital No. 101, Fort Manor, England. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Crawfordsville. He left behind a widow, Anna Warbritton.

Merle Jesse Weatherly, EX- ‘16   

Weatherly 1916

Weatherly, 1916. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Merle Jesse Weatherly was in the U.S. Army and died in France of the flu. He left a wife, Florence Rema (Barnett) Weatherly, and an unborn son, Merle Howard Weatherly. Additional information unavailable.





Died in Service:

Myron Bertman, EX- ’09

Bertram 1909

Bertram 1917 Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll

Bertman was educated at Purdue and West Point Military Academy. He was commissioned Captain, assigned to 1st U.S. Engineering Corps, and stationed in Washington, DC in June 1917. Bertman was sent overseas in July 1917 and died of pneumonia on September 18, 1917, at St. Nazaire, France, where he is buried. The America Legion in Mount Vernon, IN is named in his honor.

Samuel Lewis Booth, EX- ’22

Booth was in the Purdue Student Training Corps and was a Civil Engineering major. He died of disease while in the service on December 12, 1918.

Arthur J. Burgess, EX- ‘22

Burgess 1922

Burgess, 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Arthur Burgess was a farmer and entered the Student Army Training Corps at Purdue in October 1918, where he was assigned to Headquarters Company, Section A. He contracted pneumonia and died in St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette on December 14, 1918. He is buried in the Goodland, IN cemetery. The American Legion Post (Burns-Burgess Post), Goodland, IN is named in his honor.

Henry E. Cobb, EX- ’11

Cobb circa 1918

Cobb circa 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Henry Cobb was educated at Purdue. At the time of his enlistment he was a supervisor of Manual Training in the public schools of Elgin, IL. He entered the Military School for Aeronautics, Cornell University, November 8, 1917. He graduated February 16, 1918, and was sent to Ellington Field, TX where he died of pneumonia, April 23, 1918. He is buried in Riverview Cemetery in Seymour, IN.

Bruce Culmer, EX- ’14

Culmer circa 1917

Culmer circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Bruce Culmer attended Indiana, Illinois State, and Purdue Universities. He was a railroad employee when he entered the service on November 27, 1917, in Indianapolis. He trained in Pittsburgh and Chicago, was transferred to Camp Mineola, Long Island, and assigned to Aviation Section, Signal Corps, 816th Aero Squadron. Culmer was killed in an airplane accident July 9, 1918, at Mineola, Long Island. He is buried in Martinsville, IN.

Edwin C. Danner, ‘09

Danner 1909

Danner, 1909 Debris

Danner graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. While at Purdue, he was a member of the Transit Club, Civil Engineering Society, Webster, Athletic Association, Cadet Corp – Second Lieutenant, Mandolin Club, and Band (Manager Senior Year).

“His only deficiency was in the matter of Junior essays and it was only after a conference with Dr. Hatt that ‘Claudie’ decided to hand in the required essay.”

Russel Harrison Dwiggins, EX- ’19 

Dwiggins circa 1917

Dwiggins circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Dwiggins attended Purdue and entered Officers’ Training at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN on May 1917. He transferred to Aviation Service, was sent to Columbus Barracks, OH and then to Ellington Field, TX, where he was killed in an airplane accident on April 4, 1918. He is buried in Waynetown, IN. He left behind a wife, Mabel E. Dwiggins, and one son, Gerald Russell Dwiggins.

Louis Earl Eisensmith, ‘10

Eisensmith 1910

Eisensmith, 1910 Debris

“Eisey” graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. While at Purdue he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, ME Society, and a member of the Football Varsity Squad his senior year.

“He is a product of Kentucky, and he never tires of telling of the good old ‘Blue Grass’ state. He is a good fellow, and is always ready to listen to a good story. If things become too quiet, he has the happy faculty of stirring them up…”

Records show he died October 31, 1918.

Edward B. Foresman, EX- ‘20

Foresman circa 1918

Foresman circa 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Foresman trained at Camp Purdue and entered the service on October 9, 1918. He was assigned to Company 5, Student Army Training Corps. He died of pneumonia on December 8, 1919, in Lafayette, IN and is buried in Lafayette.

Walter Raymond Gartin, ‘12

Gartin circa 1917

Gartin circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Gartin was educated at Purdue and served on the Mexican Border in 1916. He entered First Officers’ Training Camp, Ft. Harrison, IN in May 1917, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, transferred to Camp Bowie, TX, and then to Camp Taylor, KY. He was assigned to 46th Infantry and died of pneumonia on February 18, 1918, at Camp Taylor. He was buried in Rushville, IN.

George Everhard Glossop, ‘15 

Glossop 1915

Glossop, 1915 Debris

Glossop graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.  As a student he was active in the Varsity Club, Canoe Club, AIEE, Jeffersonian Debating, Football, Track, Basketball, Athletic Association, Student Council, and Student Union Committee.

After graduation he became the Athletic Director at University of Washington. He entered the service May 15, 1918, at Walla Walla, WA, and was sent to Camp Taylor, KY. He was an instructor in Officers Training School, Field Artillery. Glossop died of influenza October 16, 1918, at Camp Taylor, KY. He was buried in Brownsburg, IN, and was survived by his wife, Alfrieda, and children, George and Sarah Ellene.


Grounds, 1917 Debris

George Lester Grounds, ‘17

Grounds’s parents died when he was nine months old and he was reared by an aunt and uncle. Grounds received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Purdue. After graduation he was a life insurance salesman. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on April 29, 1918, in Indianapolis. He was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago, IL, where he died September 30, 1918. He is buried in Second Prairie Creek Cemetery, Vigo County, IN.

Albert Leas Hall, EX- ‘05

Hall circa 1913

Hall circa 1913. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Albert Leas Hall entered the Civil Engineering School at Purdue in 1901. Before graduating, he passed a competitive examination for a commission in the U.S. Regular Army, appointed Second Lieutenant in the Infantry, April 11, 1905. He was promoted to First Lieutenant, July 11, 1907. He graduated with honors from the Mounted Service School, Ft. Riley, KS and the School of Fire, Ft. Sill, OK, and appointed Inspector and Instructor of Artillery for Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan in 1913.

At the outbreak of World War I he was stationed in the Philippine Islands, ordered to return to the United States and appointed Director of Artillery, Ft. Sill, OK. When the 38th Division was formed he was the choice of his state for Brigadier General for Artillery, but was barred because of his young age. He was appointed Commanding Officer at Camp Bowie, TX and Colonel of the Fiftieth Regiment of Artillery. He died October 18, 1918, of influenza at Camp Bowie, TX, and buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, IN. He was survived by his wife, Daisy De Graff Hall, and one son, Lewis Albert Hall.

He was the highest ranking Army Officer from Indiana who died while in service during the World War.

Carl A. Heilman, ’06 

Heilman died in the service to his country in July 1919. No further information is available.

Daniel George Hood, EX- ‘18 

Hood circa 1918

Hood circa 1918. Photo courtesy of The History and Achievements of the Fort Sheridan Officers’ Training Camps, Chicago.

Daniel Hood was a Purdue student in Electrical Engineering when the war broke out. He gave up his studies and was admitted to the First Officers’ Training at Fort Sheridan, 5th Company. Upon receipt of his commission, he requested a transfer to the Aviation Service, which was granted, and he was transferred to the aviation school at Austin, TX, then to Geratner Field, Lake Charles, LA. He was then ordered to Mitchell Field, Mineola, NY, where he was assigned to the 52nd Squadron. He was awaiting his sailing orders when he became ill with pneumonia and passed away November 2, 1918. He was survived by his wife, Cora Amphlett Hood.

Harold Roscoe Johnson, EX- ’18

Johnson was a Private, Company F, 36th Infantry when he died of pneumonia at Camp Devins, MA on September 25, 1918.

Lewis Merrill Kirkpatrick, EX- ’20 

Kirkpatrick circa 1918

Kirkpatrick circa 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Lewis Kirkpatrick was a farmer.  He entered the service on August 31, 1918, and was assigned to Automobile Mechanic School at Purdue, was transferred to Motor Transport Corps, Ft. Sheridan, IL, and then Ft. Wingate, NM. He was assigned to the Motor Transport Corps, 578th Company. He died of pericarditis at Ft. Wingate on April 13, 1919. He is buried in East Hill Cemetery, Rushville, IN.

Eugene Haskins Kothe, ‘07


Kothe, 1907 Debris

Kothe graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1902 and Purdue University in Civil Engineering in 1905. He was a buyer for Kothe, Wells, and Bauer Company. He was commissioned Captain in Quartermasters Department, U.S. Regular Army in June 1917 and called into service September 8, 1917. He was then sent to Washington, DC, in January 1918. He died of influenza October 14, 1918, in Washington and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.

Albert U. Loeb, EX- ’98 

Albert Loeb died in the service of his country on June 7, 1920. No further information is available.

Lynn Rowland McBroom, ’02

Lynn McBroom died February 7, 1918. No further information is available.

Herbert Stahl McCauley, EX- ’20

Herbert McCauley was an Electrical Engineering student at Purdue. No further information is available.

John Ray Mertz, ‘11

Mertz 1911

Mertz, 1911 Debris

John Mertz graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. While a student he was a member of Fluer-de-Lis, A.I.E.E. and the Purdue Athletic Association.

“ ‘Squirt’ received a great many votes as the funniest man in the class, deserved them, though his funnyisms are sometimes ill-timed and out of place.”

Robert Elmer Morse, ‘11

Morse 1911

Morse, 1911 Debris

Robert Morse graduated from Purdue with a Ph.C. (Pharmacy degree) and belonged to the Pharmaceutical Society as a student.

“To look at him you would not think it, but he must have been pretty nervy when he answered one of Sturmer’s class questions with ‘Who wants to know’.”

He entered the service on June 26, 1918, in Lafayette, IN. He was sent to Camp Sherman, OH, assigned to 20th Company, 5th Training Battalion, 158th Depot Brigade, then transferred to the Medical Department at Base Hospital, Camp Sherman, OH. He died of accidental causes at Camp Sherman, August 19, 1918. He is buried in Lafayette, IN.

Herbert Newby, EX- ‘22

Newby circa 1918

Newby circa 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Herbert Newby was a farmer. He enlisted in Student Army Training at Purdue on October 10, 1918. He was assigned to Company I, Section A. Newby died of scarlet fever December 1, 1918, at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lafayette, IN. He is buried in Gartland Brook Cemetery, Columbus, IN.

Earl Franklin Retherford, EX- ‘21

Retherford circa 1917

Retherford circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Retherford was a student at Purdue when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 20, 1917, in Chicago, IL. He was assigned as radio service electrician, Company Clerk. He died of pneumonia on March 21, 1918, at Great Lakes Training Station, IL. He is buried in Muncie, IN.

Raymond Frederick Reitemeier, EX- ‘21

Reitemeier circa 1917

Reitemeier circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Reitemeier was a student at Purdue when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy December 13, 1917, in Indianapolis. He was sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Station, IL and then transferred to Aviation Repair Unit, U.S. Naval Base, at Eastleigh, England. He died of pneumonia in January 1919 at Navy Hospital, Pelham, NY. He is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery in Lafayette, IN.

Sherman Lawin Rhude, EX- ‘22

Rhude circa 1918

Rhude circa 1918. Photo courtesy of Gold Star Honor Roll.

Rhude was an employee of Nordyke-Marmon Company, Indianapolis, IN when he entered the Student Army Training Corps at Purdue, October 1, 1918. He died of influenza January 23, 1919, at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette. He is buried in Garland Brook Cemetery in Columbus, IN.

Anthony Arthur Sego, ‘17

Sego 1917

Sego, 1917 Debris

Sego graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy. While a student he was a member of the Purdue Athletic Association and Varsity Track Squad.

“The mile wasn’t the only thing he could run.”

He enlisted in Aviation Service May 1, 1917, in Chicago, IL and trained at the Aviation Ground School, Cornell University, NY. He transferred to Camp Dick, TX, then to Ellington Field, TX.  He was rated as Reserve Military Aviator at Door Field, FL and commissioned Second Lieutenant, August 7, 1918.  Sego was killed in an airplane accident September 12, 1918, Love Field, TX and buried with military honors in Kentland, IN.

Leslie Selby, EX- ’17

Selby was educated at Arsenal Technical School, Indianapolis, IN, and Purdue University. He was later a teacher at Vincennes High School. He was rejected for military service but accepted for Y.M.C.A. war work on September 5, 1918. He was sent to Great Lakes Naval Training, IL, where he contracted pneumonia after three weeks duty and died on September 27, 1918. He was buried in Vincennes, IN.

Harry Wiltrout, EX- ‘20

Wiltrout was a student at Purdue when he enlisted in the United States Navy on May 17, 1918. He was sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago, IL and promoted to 2nd Class Seaman. He died of empyema on October 21, 1918, at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, IL and buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Warsaw, IN.

William Willington Smith, ‘17

Smith 1917

Smith, 1917 Debris

Smith received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue. While a student he belonged to ASME, Purdue Athletic Association, and the YMCA.

“He has common sense in a way that is uncommon.”

Sidney Bain Swaim, ‘10

Swaim 1910

Swaim, 1910 Debris

Swaim’s  nickname was “Sid” and he was from Dallas, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science from Purdue in Mechanical Engineering.

It is noted in the Debris, “While not possessing all the qualities of a mixer, ‘Sid’ is known to us as a quiet, unassuming, good natured fellow, who takes an active interest in his work, and is never too busy for a chat on Heating and Ventilation or Automobiles.  Swaim’s specialty is finishing mechanics tests ten minutes before anyone else in the class.”

Ilo Ivan Taylor (no year noted) 

Taylor circa 1910

Taylor circa 1910. Photo courtesy of Colorado School of Mines Alumni Magazine, Mines Magazine, volumes 3-4, 1913, p. 211.

Taylor may have been a Purdue instructor.  He became a First Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  He died at Camp Lee, Virginia, perhaps of the flu, on January 25, 1919.

Douglas Viele, ‘14

Viele 1914

Viele, 1914 Debris

Viele received a Bachelor of Science in Science with honors from Purdue. He was a member of the Purdue Athletic Association and the Glee Club. He was a Captain of the Purdue Cadets for 2 years.

He entered First Officers Training School at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, where he became ill and died of spinal meningitis on July 7, 1917. He was buried with military honors in Oak Hill Cemetery, Evansville, IN.

Carl Williams, ‘15

Williams 1915

Williams, 1915 Debris

Williams graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. As a student, he was a member of the Band, Orchestra, ASME, and P.A.A., and was a Cadet Lieutenant.

He enlisted in May 1917 and was sent to Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN. He was transferred to Camp Shelby, MS, where he served as a member of Headquarters Company Band, 151st Infantry. He contracted pneumonia, which caused his death on April 21, 1918, at Camp Shelby, MS. He was buried with military honors in Poseyville, IN.


Purdue University. Senior Class. Purdue … Debris. (1889). e-Archives, Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center,

Hepburn, William Murray, and Louis Martin Sears. Purdue University Fifty Years of Progress. Indianapolis: Hollenbeck, 2008.

Oliver, John Williams. Gold Star Honor Roll. A Record of Indiana Men and Women Who Died in the Service of the United States and the Allied Nations in the World War. 1914-1918. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission, 1921. Print. Indiana Historical Collections, [vol. VI].

Fort Sheridan Association, and Fred Girton. The History and Achievements of the Fort Sheridan Officers’ Training Camps. Chicago?: The Fort Sheridan Association, 1920.


Respectfully compiled by Mary A. Sego, Processing Assistant, Purdue Archives and Special Collections. Mary lost four great-uncles during WWI, and she is committed to honoring their legacy.