Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Books for All Boilermakers

Books for All Boilermakers

May 1st, 2020

Our wonderful selection of books on Purdue include two books published for Purdue’s 150th Anniversary, Ever True and Purdue at 150, biographies on notable Purdue alumni, a new collection of Neil Armstrong’s letters, and many others.


Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University
by John Norberg


Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life
by David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris

A Reluctant Icon: Letters to Neil Armstrong

edited by James R. Hansen


Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue in Flight, Second Edition
by John Norberg


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

edited by James R. Hansen

Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom
by George Leopold


Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer
by Jerry Ross and John Norberg


Becoming a Spacewalker: My Journey to the Stars
by Jerry L. Ross and Susan G. Gunderson


The Deans’ Bible: Five Purdue Women and Their Quest for Equality
by Angie Klink


A Purdue Icon: Creation, Life, and Legacy
edited by James L. Mullins


Slow Ball Cartoonist: The Extraordinary Life of Indiana Native and Pulitzer Prize Winner John T. McCutcheon of the Chicago Tribune
by Tony Garel-Frantzen


For the Good of the Farmer: A Biography of John Harrison Skinner, Dean of Purdue Agriculture
by Frederick Whitford


A University of Tradition: The Spirit of Purdue, Second Edition
by Purdue Reamer Club


Just Call Me Orville: The Story of Orville Redenbacher

by Robert W. Topping

Heartbeat of the University: 125 Years of Purdue Bands

by John Norberg

Divided Paths, Common Ground: The Story of Mary Matthews and Lella Gaddis, Pioneering Purdue Women Who Introduced Science into the Home

by Angie Klink

Ross-Ade: Their Purdue Stories, Stadium, and Legacies

by Robert C. Kriebel

Uncle: My Journey with John Purdue

by Irena McCammon Scott

The Queen of American Agriculture: A Biography of Virginia Claypool Meredith

by Frederick Whitford, Andrew G. Martin, and Phyllis Mattheis


The Grand Old Man of Purdue University and Indiana Agriculture: The Biography of William Carroll Latta

by Frederick Whitford and Andrew G. Martin


Midas of the Wabash: A Biography of John Purdue

by Robert C. Kriebel


Letters of George Ade

edited by Terence Tobin


Force for Change: The Class of 1950

by John Norberg


Edward Charles Elliott, Educator

by Frank K. Burrin

The Hovde Years: A Biography of Frederick L. Hovde

by Robert W. Topping


Richard Owen: Scotland 1810, Indiana 1890

by Victor Lincoln Albjerg


My Amiable Uncle: Recollections of Booth Tarkington

by Susanah Mayberry


The Dean: A Biography of A. A. Potter

by Robert B. Eckles



Enter the code PURDUE30 when checking out on our website to receive your 30% discount.

Preserving Purdue’s History: Books from the Archives

January 13th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Purdue At 150: A Visual History of Student Life

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


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

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

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


Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University

by John Norberg


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

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


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

by James R. Hansen


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

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

Read the full interview with Hansen.


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

Frederick Whitford and Neal Harmeyer


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

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




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

Purdue University Press Holiday Sale

November 18th, 2019


Purdue University Press is offering a 40% discount on over 20 selected titles as part of our Winter Gift Catalog so you can celebrate your favorite holiday by gifting a book to a friend, loved one, or yourself. The books in the catalog are arranged in six different areas of interest:

  • Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
  • Tales of Perseverance
  • Traveling Through Space and Time
  • Discover Your Inner Green Thumb
  • The Power of Pets
  • Photographing the Midwest

To receive the 40% discount, use code GIFT40 at checkout when ordering directly from our website. The sale will continue through the end of 2019. Further details are available in the full catalog.

Happy Holidays from the Purdue University Press staff!


Selections from the Winter Gift Catalog:

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Q&A with John Norberg

October 16th, 2019

We talked with celebrated writer, author, and humorist John Norberg about the second edition of Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue in Flight, his second book with Purdue University Press this year.

The second edition of Wings of Their Dreams continues and updates the story of an aeronautic odyssey of imagination, science, engineering, technology, adventure, courage, danger, and promise. It is the ever-evolving story of the human spirit taking flight, expanding Purdue’s legacy in aviation’s history.



Q: What originally inspired you to write Wings of Their Dreams?

John Norberg: I started working on it in 1999 as the 2003 centennial of flight approached. Purdue has a great history in flight and space and I thought the centennial of flight would be the perfect time to highlight it. There was no book where the stories of all our historical figures in flight and our astronauts were brought together in one place. As with several of the books I’ve written I talked about the idea with Joe Bennett, then vice president for university relation. This was before I started at Purdue in October of 2000. Joe liked the idea and took it to President Steve Beering who authorized it with financial support from the Purdue Research Foundation.


Book cover with the International Space station and earth in the foreground, and the Moon in the background
“Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue in Flight, Second Edition”

Q: Purdue is often referred to as the “cradle of astronauts”, what do you think are some of the main reasons Purdue has been so successful in producing astronauts?

Norberg: I have researched this and talked with all our astronauts about it. I’ve concluded there are five specific reasons we have so many astronauts.

  • Large and world class schools of engineering and science that attract people who want to become astronauts. NASA has a history of selecting people with engineering and science backgrounds as astronauts. In the early days being an engineer was required.
  • A university airport on the campus. Going back to our earliest astronauts, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan and Roger Chaffee, they had no idea about the future that awaited them. But they knew they liked to fly and the airport was a plus in attracting people interested first in aviation and later space flight. Many of our shuttle astronauts have also been pilots and they were interested in the University airport.
  • A large and outstanding ROTC program. Many astronauts used a military career path to be selected by NASA for space flight. A number of them become military test pilots. Some received ROTC scholarships or came to Purdue on Navy scholarships. The excellence of Purdue’s ROTC programs and the fact that the military was a good career track for become an astronaut attracted people to Purdue who were interested in flight and later space.
  • A master’s degree program in association with the Air Force Academy. In the 1960s one of the most selective programs at the Air Force Academy was a master’s degree program with Purdue. Only the top students were selected. They took some advanced courses at the Academy and upon graduation they came immediately to Purdue and began taking course during summer terms, and there were three of them. With a heavy course load in the fall semester they were able to complete their master’s degree work in January. Seven men who went through this program became astronauts and credit Purdue with helping them succeed. One of the people who came to Purdue on the program became the Hero of the Hudson, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
  • When Cernan and Chaffee became NASA astronauts in 1963, Purdue had four alumni selected for space missions and the total number of people in the space program was not large. Young people interested in space began to see Purdue as a great place to study to accomplish their goals. Purdue’s reputation as a school of astronauts became even stronger as more and more Boilermakers were selected for the program by NASA.


Q: What’s something you think that people may not know about Purdue’s history in flight?

Norberg: People are always interested in stories about Neil Armstrong and the first landing on the moon. It’s in the book. I also wanted to give readers surprises, stories they didn’t know about. Most people don’t know that a Purdue alumnus worked with the Wright Brothers in the earliest days of flight. They don’t know Purdue graduates taught flight to Billy Mitchell and Hap Arnold – icons in U.S. military. They don’t know one of the nation’s first test pilots was a Purdue graduate, that a Purdue graduate and Charles Lindbergh were involved in a mid-air crash, an incident that marked the first time two pilots parachuted to safety. They don’t know about a Purdue graduate who flew beneath a balloon to the stratosphere. The first pilot to be called “Mr. Space” when there were no astronauts was a Purdue alumnus. The second person to break the sound barrier studied at Purdue (and some say he was the first). There is much more. Wings tells the history of flight and space through the stories of Purdue graduates. I think people will also be surprised that some astronauts apply four or five times before being selected. It is very competitive. The man who assigned astronauts to flights says Grissom would probably have been the first person on the moon, had he survived.


John Norberg


Q: What was the thing that surprised you most when you did the research for this book?

Norberg: If I tell all the surprises they won’t be surprises. The most pleasant surprise was that Neil Armstrong agreed to let me interview him for the book, something he rarely did. It was before Jim Hansen released his excellent biography of Neil, First Man but they were working on it. When I finished Neil’s chapters I sent them to him for accuracy review. He responded that the chapters were good, but he thought they were “about one-third too much me.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. So, I took quotation marks off some of his statements and paraphrased them. I sent it back and he said it was perfect. Shortly after Wings was published, Purdue held an event at the Air and Space Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Neil was there and spoke. He started telling stories about pilots in Purdue’s history. The first one I recognized as someone in the book. Then there was a second and third. It finally dawned on me that he was repeating the stories from the book. I sent him a copy of the book and he had read it. That surprised me. At the end of his talk he said “All these stories are from John Norberg’s book Wings of Their Dreams that I heartily recommend.” I thanked Neil after he spoke. Someone came up to me and told me I needed to go to the table we were using to sell and sign books. There was a line of people waiting that stretched down the first floor of the museum. Neil wrote a statement for the cover of another book, Spacewalker, I wrote with Purdue astronaut Jerry Ross: “Spacewalker is the book for anyone who ever dreamed of flying in space.” There are many surprises in the stories about the people I wrote about in the book. I hope people enjoy them.


Q: What is new about the second edition of Wings of Their Dreams?

Norberg: Much has changed from 2003 to 2019. All the profiles and stories that were in the first book are in the second edition, but many of them have been updated. I interviewed all our living astronauts again (there are 24 associated with NASA and one commercial astronaut) and updated their information and thoughts. In addition to Grissom and Chaffee, who died in 1967, four other Purdue astronauts have died since 2003 – Janice Voss, Armstrong, Cernan, and Don Williams. I updated those stories. I added profiles on two additional astronauts since 2003. I also added a chapter on Sullenberger’s 2009 landing of a commercial airplane on the Hudson River, saving all the souls onboard.



You can get 30% off of Wings of Their Dreams by entering the discount code PURDUE30 when ordering from our website.

Bringing the Archives to Life

May 6th, 2019

Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life by David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris with a Foreword by Drew and Brittany Brees tells Purdue’s story through rare images, artifacts, and words. The authors culled decades of student papers from scrapbooks, yearbooks, letters, and newspapers to historical photographs and memorabilia preserved in the Purdue University Libraries Virginia Kelley Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center. Many of the images and artifacts included have never been published, presenting a unique history of the land-grant university from the student perspective.

What prompted the authors to undertake such a monumental task? Where do you start when you have the entirety of the archives as your source? We asked the authors to take us inside the process of making Purdue at 150.


Q: What prompted you to start this project?

David Hovde: I have spent most of my writing career, beginning in 1973, writing historical works. When I started to work in the Archives and Special Collections in 2006, I read everything I could about the history of Purdue using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Then, I started to teach classes about how to do historical research using archival resources. I quickly noticed that the students were far more attentive when I discussed material created by students from Purdue’s past rather than material about presidents and famous faculty. The students could relate to the students of the past. At the same time, I noted that few official histories really discussed students and their lives on campus. Their voices were largely silent. Since I have a long-standing interest in folklore, I also noticed how much of the campus folklore had little basis in fact. For a number of years, I mulled over the idea writing a book about student life and student customs and traditions. When the sesquicentennial was approaching, I presented the idea to Sammie Morris and the entire staff, and the rest so to speak is history. The book is a bit different than what I had envisioned years ago, but this is a collaborative effort and that collaboration brilliantly highlights the collections in the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections and is strengthened by the many voices of those who contributed to the final product.

Sammie Morris: The Archives and Special Collections unit began discussing and preparing for the Purdue sesquicentennial many years in advance. One thing we discussed early on was a coffee table type book that would include beautiful realistic facsimiles of treasures from the Archives that provide evidence of Purdue’s past. We tossed around ideas about a scrapbook style album, or something featuring historical images and student memorabilia. David Hovde had a suggestion that we work together on a book project and there was a lot of enthusiasm amongst the staff in the Archives on taking on this challenge. From the start, it was important to me that we focus on filling in gaps in the past histories of Purdue by telling stories of some of the lesser known individuals and events in our history. As John Norberg worked to create an updated comprehensive Purdue history we differentiated our books by focusing solely on student experiences and featuring only items that are part of the Archives and Special Collections’ holdings. In this way, we let the evidence existing in the Archives tell the story of Purdue’s past students, while being aware that there are many gaps in the archival record that we would like to fill and enhance in the future.

Purdue at 150 on a ledge in front the Purdue Memorial Union
PURDUE AT 150 is 280 pages, 10”×13” trim size with over 675 illustrations.



Q: How does one start the process of gathering all the materials needed for a project like this?

David: I began my post-college career as an archaeologist. Archival research is like archaeology. On a dig, you slowly and carefully peel back the layers of soil, recording the artifacts and their places on the site both horizontally and vertically and place each artifact in context with all the others on the site, sites in the region, and the time period the site represents. Archival research is much the same. Each document or artifact is a story and part of a larger whole. Each file, photograph, or box is a layer, and each relates to all the other files and boxes that tell the story of the site. A document is an artifact, a collection a layer, and each relates to other artifacts and collections temporally and spatially. The site in this case is the history of Purdue University. Each document, photograph, and artifact is equally as important as the others, and together they contribute to the story. This book has fifteen cultural layers that make up the site known as Purdue University.

As with any project, one starts looking at the secondary and tertiary sources and then the voice is chosen. In this case, the voice was the students. Then the structure is developed, and the researchers begins to look for primary sources, scrapbooks, photographs, letters, documents, etc., that bring the voice of the participant in the story to the forefront and gives the story life.

Prior to this, I had written a number of short articles about student traditions that would be the basis for a web site about Purdue student customs and traditions and to aid the staff to help students and researchers with questions about such things. These became elements of the future book. No one person in this collaboration knows all the collections. The authors each have their expertise and individual interests, but all wanted to give voice to the students who came and went over the past 145 years.

Adriana Harmeyer: We decided early on that we would let the archival materials tell the story. We reviewed the items in the Archives, thought about which ones are most interesting, surprising, and engaging, and built the story from there. There are some seminal moments and traditions that we knew would have to be included and were able to find archival materials that would illustrate them.

Sammie: It was a big undertaking. We wanted something new and fresh that didn’t retell past Purdue histories and we wanted something that would complement, rather than compete with, John Norberg’s forthcoming book. With 150 years of history come 150 years of documents, photos, and artifacts. There are thousands of boxes of these records in the archives, but we had to start somewhere. Once we decided to focus on student life and organizing the book by decade, it helped us to hone in on what collections we had on those topics. We also made a serious effort to seek out—to the best of our abilities—diverse stories and perspectives, focusing not exclusively on famous alumni, but rather trying to tell the story of the average student experience by decade. We wanted to show that all Purdue students played a role in shaping the university, and we wanted to represent as many voices and perspectives as possible.

Q: What was your favorite decade to research?

David: I would say the 1900s, since that was the decade the many of the long standing and most colorful traditions were established or codified.

Adriana: I really enjoyed diving into the 1910s. So much was happening at that time as enrollment grew, old traditions faded, and new traditions developed. By the end of the decade, World War I really helped define what Purdue and the community could offer to the world.

Neal Harmeyer: My favorite decade to research was the 2010s. Studying archival content from the very recent past helped me to connect current issues and topics to those from past decades.

Sammie: I love the 1930s, it’s this fascinating time in American history between the two world wars when art and design and culture are becoming more streamlined and modern, Prohibition was ending, Art Deco was popular, and women were beginning to have more freedom after earning the right to vote in 1920. It also happens to be the decade when two women heroes of mine joined Purdue: Lillian Gilbreth and Amelia Earhart. It was the decade when Purdue opened the first university-owned airport. I just feel like there was a lot of growth and excitement, at Purdue, and in the U.S. during the 1930s. There was this can-do spirit seen in photos and documents that seemed celebratory despite the effects of the Great Depression. It was a fascinating time of highs and lows.

Q: Was there a single photo that you enjoyed the most that sticks out to you?

David: One of the most difficult parts of a book like this is choosing the best photo to tell a particular story. Sometimes there could be three or four similar images you like, but only one can be used. I like the photo on page 24 of the students being students, the two women on page 28, and the three women on page 34 showing early campus life of women. I also like the victors and the defeated on page 41, particularly the look of concern by the student with 08 sign hung around his neck.

Adriana Harmeyer: There are so many great photos in this book! One that comes immediately to mind, probably because I had never seen it until this project, is of Olympian Clifford C. Furnas running through ankle-deep water at a state track meeting as crowds cheer him on. This photo originally appeared in the 1922 Debris Yearbook, a great source of historical images.

Neal Harmeyer: I enjoy many of the images within the book. One that stands out is an image of the entrance to campus at State and Marsteller Streets in the 1940s. The intersection looks very different today.

Q: What were some of your favorite photos that didn’t end up making it into the book?

David: The one that did not make it in the book, because it is so commonly used, is Fred Hovde walking with a group of young men, some in World War II military clothing. The confident stride and the smiles reflect the new beginnings, growth, and promise of Hovde’s vision of a comprehensive research university and the GI Bill.

Adriana Harmeyer: There is a nice photo album from the 1930s, called “Purdue Panels,” that is filled with campus scenes. My favorite part of it, though, is the cover, which has sketches of the Power Plant and Heavilon Hall. It is a simple but eye-catching illustration of what the most prominent features of campus were at that time.

Neal Harmeyer: My favorite photos that did not make the book were a comparison of State Street during and after the redevelopment project of the 2010s.

Q: Were there any Purdue legends or stories that you found to be untrue?

David: Gobs and gobs…In particular, all those that start with, “In John Purdue’s will…” He did not have a will and all those stories about no foreign language instruction, red brick, no building taller than University Hall, etc., are completely bogus.

Q: Neal, what is it like being involved in a project as a Purdue alum?

Neal Harmeyer: Working on this book as an alumnus was an interesting experience. I have spent many years in and around Purdue University, first as a student and later as a professional archivist, and through those experiences many historical details were already known to me. Yet, there are always new things to learn, and I was learned numerous facts during the research process. I found it fascinating each time a new fact was uncovered or myth debunked. Therefore, I am certain that anyone connected to Purdue will learn something from Purdue at 150.

Q: How similar is the work that you did for this book to the work that you do at the archives?

David: From the beginning, one of my roles was to recover lost bits of Purdue’s history and put dates, names, and context onto numerous photographs in the collection. Much of what is in the book cannot be found in other published Purdue histories.

Adriana Harmeyer: This book felt like a natural extension of our work in the Archives. We often assist researchers in identifying archival materials to help with their projects, and by working with these collections every day most of us have a good understanding of the broad strokes of Purdue history. This book gave us a chance to dive a little more deeply into the collections and piece together more of those historical details. I also manage the Archives social media accounts, so I am very familiar with identifying interesting images and writing descriptive text to accompany them.

Neal: As an archivist I am constantly helping researchers conduct their own research, creating metadata for collections and images alike, composing my findings, and enabling access to Archives and Special Collections content. Working on Purdue at 150 was similar to my daily activities, albeit with a longer research period.

Q: What do the archives provide to Purdue?

David: The Archives and Special Collection since its creation in 1913 strove to collect, arrange, describe, preserve, and make available the records of the University, staff, and alumni. It is not a mere collection because the highly trained professional and knowledgeable staff in the Archives bring the history of this institution to life and preserve it for the future.

Adriana: The Archives are the access point for these stories, housing the original documents, photographs, and objects that are part of the university’s history. However, we are not just a physical location, but a highly skilled team that can work with people through every step of the research process, from identifying primary sources for their research through to donating their own collections to the archives for future generations of researchers to study and enjoy.

Neal: I believe Archives and Special Collections provides unique opportunities for persons of all ages and educational backgrounds to self-discover and create new ideas. The collections with Archives and Special Collections document the histories of individuals, the university, and the community. A visitor may select, learn, and write about topics of their choosing, all while studying the original one-of-a-kind items of their creators. In turn, those studies generate new primary documents to be preserved for the next generations. Archives and Special Collections support research and learning. These are not only places of the past; they are places of the present and places of the future.

Sammie: The University Archives is the memory of Purdue. Here, we collect and manage the evidence of Purdue’s past activities, decisions, accomplishments, and the lives and contributions of its people. When a date or other fact needs to be checked, we provide the documentation for a reliable answer. But much more than that, the Archives is an accumulation of stories of the people who have shaped Purdue—the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University who have collectively made it what it is. It’s the Archives that preserves those memories for use by current and future generations of Boilermakers, and it’s the archivists who teach students how to do archival research and come to appreciate and connect with Purdue’s history. Finally, the Archives serves as the access point for scholars worldwide interested in writing books, articles, creating films, or exhibits on Purdue history; without the Archives, Purdue’s past would be an unreliable mix of rumors and hearsay, but most importantly, the legacies of so many ordinary people who helped build and sustain Purdue would be difficult to discover. I think the Archives make Purdue history real for people in a way that facts cannot; there is something exciting about learning through interacting with historical documents, photos, and memorabilia, old digital files and media. The past becomes, for a brief moment, the present when one interacts with these relics from history.


Enter code PURDUE30 at checkout on our website to get 30% off Purdue at 150.

Purdue University Press Giant Leaps Celebration Sale – May 6 Only

May 6th, 2019

In celebration of Purdue’s 150th Anniversary on May 6, Purdue University Press is offering a special Giant Leaps Celebration Sale featuring two new books on the University’s history: Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University and Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life.

Take 50% off each book by ordering directly from Purdue University Press at or by calling 1-800-247-6553 and use the discount code GiantLeaps at checkout. This special sale ends on May 6 at 11:59pm EST.

Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University by John Norberg with a Foreword by Purdue University President Mitch Daniels captures the essence of our great university. In this volume, Norberg takes readers beyond the iconic redbrick walls of Purdue’s West Lafayette campus to delve into the stories of the faculty, alumni, student, and leaders who make up this remarkable institution’s distinguished history.

President Emeritus Martin C. Jischke calls Norberg’s work, “an engaging, inspiring, and beautifully written history of one of America’s most distinguished public universities. It tells the story of Purdue from its humble origins to its emergence as a preeminent research university.”

Hardback with jacket, 496 pages, 6.75”x9.75” trim size with over 150 illustrations.

Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life by David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris with a Foreword by Drew and Brittany Brees tells Purdue’s story through rare images, artifacts, and words. The authors culled decades of student papers from scrapbooks, yearbooks, letters, and newspapers to historical photographs and memorabilia preserved in the Purdue University Libraries Virginia Kelley Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center. Many of the images and artifacts included have never been published, presenting a unique history of the land-grant university from the student perspective.

The Brees’ say in their Foreword, “Purdue at 150 is the definitive visual history of student life at our beloved alma mater, recalling stories through rare images and artifacts as well as words. Whether you are a long-time alumni or a recent graduate, we know you will enjoy the trip down memory lane.”

Hardback with jacket, 280 pages, 10”×13” trim size with over 675 illustrations.

Celebrating 150 Years of Giants Leaps

April 29th, 2019

“The history of Purdue University is the story of people. They aren’t flat and lifeless, one-dimensional figures staring at us from paintings and black-and-white photographs. They are people who lived and breathed, laughed and cried. They succeeded and they failed, and to understand what they did for Purdue and why requires knowing them as friends, not historical data.”

— John Norberg, author of Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University



Celebrations for Purdue’s 150th are long underway, ranging from a formidable line-up of speakers to the unveiling of a new Purdue-themed ice cream flavor.

On May 6, Purdue University Press will be joining in the sesquicentennial celebration with the release of two new history books, each with their own look at Purdue’s first 150 years. Ever True: 150 Years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University by John Norberg, and Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life by David M. Hovde, Adriana Harmeyer, Neal Harmeyer, and Sammie L. Morris.

In Ever True, Norberg deftly covers 150 years of Purdue history, a task he equates to trying to fill a thimble with water pouring out of a fire hydrant. The book is filled with stories of the faculty, alumni, and leaders that make up our institution’s distinguished history.

“Today we see people from history in black-and-white photos staring blankly at us. But the people who formed our history were real people who got out of bed still tired and went to work and had good days and bad days, just like all of us today,” Norberg said in a recent interview in the Journal & Courier,  “I hope people who read this book get to know these folks from our past like friends.”

The book also features over 40 profiles of prominent Boilermakers who have taken “Giant Leaps”, celebrating the effect Purdue Alumni have on the world.

For Purdue at 150, a team of Purdue archivists pored over decades of student papers, from scrapbooks, yearbooks, letters, and newspapers, to historical photographs and memorabilia, all of which are preserved in the Purdue University Libraries Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections. The result is a stunning pictorial history of Purdue, with many artifacts and images that are being published for the first time. The book is divided into decades, giving you relevant insight into many different eras of student life.

In the foreword of the book, Purdue alumni Drew and Brittany Brees say “Purdue at 150 is the definitive visual history of student life at our beloved alma mater, whether you are a long-time alum or a recent graduate, we know you will enjoy the trip down memory lane.”

Whether you’re a Purdue student, alumni, or a fan, each book provides a unique opportunity to look into the history of Purdue, and make a perfect way to celebrate Purdue’s 150th.

On Founder’s Day, May 6, we’ll be having a special sale, make sure to keep an eye on our social media, newsletter, and this blog so you don’t miss it!


Q&A with Author George Leopold, Biographer of Gus Grissom

September 14th, 2018

A revised and expanded paperback edition of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Time of Gus Grissom by George Leopold will be released on September 15th. In preparation for the release, the press interviewed Leopold to find out more behind his inspiration in writing the book, some thoughts on the book’s subject, and more.


Q: What inspired you to write a book? How did you come across Gus Grissom as a subject?

Leopold: The standard narrative of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union is divided into two parts: before and after what came to be known simply as The Fire, the catastrophe that killed Gus Grissom and his Apollo 1 crew. After NASA recovered, the contributions of Gus Grissom were mostly forgotten—misremembered, really, when Tom Wolfe published The Right Stuff. Wolfe’s depiction of Grissom in his book and especially in the film version is a cartoon character. Wolfe got it wrong.

This struck me and many others as unjust. I determined to correct the record by writing a biography of Gus Grissom that places his life and career in the context of history of manned spaceflight.

I resolved to write his biography while standing before Gus Grissom’s grave in a lonely section of Arlington National Cemetery.

It only me took seven years.

Q: You have mentioned in previous interviews that you feel Grissom is underappreciated. Given his importance to early space exploration, how do you feel this happened?

Leopold: Part of its was Grissom’s unwillingness to toot his own horn. Gus always said the pre-flight press conferences were harder than the actual space missions. Another factor was the serendipitous nature of the early Project Mercury crew assignments. Most remember Alan Shepard’s first flight and John Glenn’s orbital flight. Grissom was remembered mostly for losing his first spacecraft.

And there was little reward or notoriety outside of his own peer group for the long hours at the factory doing the tedious testing required to get the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft into orbit. Grissom was engineering test pilot by training. All he really wanted to do was to go faster and higher—all the way to the moon and back. He cared not a whit about personal prestige, but he worked tirelessly to ensure the United States was first on the moon. Without Grissom’s contributions, I’m convinced we would not have made it by the end of the 1960s as we so declared.

Q: What do you imagine the space program would look like today if the Apollo 1 mission had been a success?

Leopold: It’s hard to say. Space exploration is a deadly business. If the Apollo 1 fire had not occurred on the launch pad, an accident in space would have been worse because investigators would know next to nothing about the precise cause(s). One of the cruel ironies, the central paradox of the Space Race, was that a launch pad fire actually saved the Apollo program. The reason was the evidence of what had been overlooked in Grissom’s ship—the faulty wiring, the leaking coolant, the lack of flame-retardant materials in the spacecraft, the clumsy inward opening hatch and, most important of all, NASA’s misguided engineering decision to use pure oxygen under pressure on the launch pad—all of it was there for the investigators to sift through.

To its credit, NASA rose from the ashes and built a great machine that took 24 humans to the moon.

Q: What are some things you believe the average person would be most surprised to know about the early age of space exploration?

Leopold: What a risky enterprise this was and the price the astronauts’ families paid. That, and the fact that Grissom and the early astronauts were test pilots who did not fly by the seat of their pants. They accepted risks, but they always sought to minimize them and come back alive. Gus Grissom is widely quoted as saying the rewards outweighed the risks (I never did track down the precise origin of Grissom’s iconic “worth the risk” quote, but he did say something close to this.) Hence, my thesis is that Grissom calculated those risks, dangers that every astronaut had to accept, and determined to proceed.

That decision cost him and his Apollo crew their lives, and shattered their families.

Q: What were some of the changes made for the new edition of the book? What makes it worthwhile for the person who has already read the original?

Leopold: For starters, the new Afterword describes how NASA finally provided a measure of closure for the Grissom, White, and Chaffee families. It’s an account of the 50th anniversary observance of the Apollo 1 fire. Gus Grissom’s brother Lowell did me the honor of an invitation to attend the ceremonies at Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA at long last did right by the crew, mounting a permanent Apollo 1 exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center that includes the scorched hatches. The NASA exhibit also includes photos of Gus Grissom first published in Calculated Risk.

I and others have long argued that some part of the spacecraft should be displayed in a dignified way to remind future generations of the sacrifices of the early astronauts. NASA did just that. The exhibit was long overdue.

Further, we believe the updated version is more readable, and benefited from the kind of crowdsourcing that occurs when a book on an important subject is published. A scholarly peer review process, enabled by social media, identified a few areas for improvement. The result, we firmly believe, is the authoritative account of Gus Grissom’s life and career.

Q: You have spent countless hours researching and interviewing for this book. What is your favorite story that didn’t make it in?

Leopold: Not left out, merely overlooked until recently. When the Apollo 1 crew assignment was announced during a press conference in Houston in March 1966, a reporter asked about the protocol for deciding which two astronauts on each three-man crew would land and walk on the lunar surface during later Apollo missions. A NASA manager started in with a long technical answer.

Grissom listened for a moment, smiled and jumped in—getting right to the point: “If it was this crew, it would be me and somebody else!”

Q: Do you think that Grissom’s reputation has improved? Are there steps you would like to see taken to ensure his place in space history?

Leopold: I’d venture to say Gus Grissom is beloved, especially by those who knew him and understood his competence, dedication, and willingness to work and sacrifice. Those contributions to manned space exploration are certainly more appreciated now than, say, the late 1970s and early 1980s when The Right Stuff narrative held sway. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, for which the release of this biography was timed, also contributed to greater appreciation of Grissom’s central role.

My subject would undoubtedly be amused by all the fuss….

I am currently working with a group seeking to place a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the Apollo 1 crew. Gus Grissom and his crew mate and fellow Purdue alumnus Roger Chaffee are buried at Arlington. Surprisingly, there is no monument there commemorating the crew’s sacrifice—as there are for the astronauts lost in the two Space Shuttle accidents. The Apollo 1 memorial at Arlington National Cemetery was authorized by Congress, and we hope to have one in place during a future NASA Day of Remembrance for the Apollo 1 and shuttle crews.

Q: If you could ask Gus Grissom himself one question, what would it be?

Leopold: I would ask about his state of mind in the last weeks of his life, which must have been hell. He knew he had a faulty spacecraft on his hands, but he and the others figured they could fix it as they had done before. In that respect, Gus Grissom was a fatalist.


George Leopold is a veteran technology journalist and science writer who has covered the nexus between technology and policy for over thirty years. Leopold has written extensively about U.S. manned spaceflight, including the Apollo and space shuttle programs. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Scientist, and a variety of other science and technology publications. He resides in Reston, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter!

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Purdue Student Developed “GripIt” Device-Holder Prototype with Purdue Libraries’ 3D Printing Resources; Launching Start-Up with Crowdfunding Campaign

June 1st, 2018

Purdue Univeristy student Jacob Nolley and Ball State University student Collin Clevenger, co-presidents of The Graphite Lab and developers of the GripIt mobile device holder.
Purdue University student Jacob Nolley and Ball State University student Collin Clevenger, co-presidents of The Graphite Lab and developers of the GripIt mobile device holder.

by Teresa Koltzenburg, Purdue Libraries

Purdue University senior Jacob Nolley is in no danger of lacking entrepreneurial ideas and endeavor. Nolley—a dual marketing and management major in the Purdue Krannert School of Management and president of the Purdue Honors College Mentor Council—and his business partner and best friend, Collin Clevenger (who attends Ball State University), have both embodied the entrepreneurial spirit since they were in fourth grade together many years ago. Back then, the Shelbyville (IN) natives started a business selling lollipops and pencil erasers to their elementary-school classmates. The pair’s business partnership continued into their high school years, when they founded a headband business together and sold their headband products to fellow students and friends.

The GripIt Mobile Device Holder
The GripIt mobile device holder

Most recently, Nolley and Clevenger started the product-development venture The Graphite Lab, through which they hope to help other young entrepreneurs take their product ideas to market successfully. As a proof of their product-development company concept, Nolley and Clevenger have developed their very own product, the GripIt, a holder for mobile devices, which they describe as “the most comfortable, customizable, and care-free way to hold your device.” Sleeker (for carrying a device in one’s pocket) than the popular pop-up holders—and still creating a more secure grip on one’s valuable mobile device—GripIt attaches easily to mobile devices (including tablets) and features 16 different band colors. Nolley said, too, those who order GripIt in bulk orders (for giveaways and brand awareness “swag”) will have even more customizable options (e.g., printing the bands and/or more color options).

Recently, the pair launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help them purchase start-up capital, including a printer so they can make some of the product pieces themselves. But before they could start marketing GripIt (and the services of The Graphite Lab) and launch their Indiegogo campaign, Nolley and Clevenger needed a product prototype to show to prospective investors and to take to manufacturing partners. That’s where the 3D printing resources in the Purdue University Libraries’ Data-Visualization Experience Lab of Purdue (D-VELoP) proved to be integral. (D-VELoP is part of the Library of Engineering and Science in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.) After creating a design using OnShape online product-design software, Nolley used D-VELoP’s 3D printing resources and the D-VELoP staff members’ expertise to help him hone the prototype.

(Top photo) Purdue Libraries Instructional Developer Aly Edmondson wearing a prototype pair of 3D-printed earrings she and her fellow Library of Engineering and Science (LoES) personnel (faculty and staff) produced. To demonstrate the resources in the Libraries' Data Visualization Experience Lab of Purdue (D-VELoP), Edmondson and LoES personnel offer a number of Mobile Making activities and events throughout the regular academic year at Purdue University. (Bottom photo) D-VELoP offers a number of data-visualization tools, including 3D printing, for research and development. Paired with the expertise of the LoES faculty and staff, D-VELoP offers many learning and research resources, tools, and services within the Purdue Libraries' Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC).
(Top photo) Purdue Libraries Instructional Developer Aly Edmondson wearing a prototype pair of 3D-printed earrings she and her fellow Library of Engineering and Science (LoES) personnel (faculty and staff) produced. To demonstrate the resources in the Libraries’ Data Visualization Experience Lab of Purdue (D-VELoP), Edmondson and LoES personnel offer a number of Mobile Making activities and events throughout the regular academic year at Purdue University. (Bottom photo) D-VELoP offers a number of data-visualization tools, including 3D printing, for research and development. Paired with the expertise of the LoES faculty and staff, D-VELoP offers many learning and research resources, tools, and services within the Purdue Libraries’ Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC).

“Libraries personnel, like [Instructional Developer] Aly Edmondson helped me a great deal,” Nolley explained. “I talked with her and other D-VELoP personnel about what they would recommend for this particular prototype design. Through this process, I learned how to design a product to be manufactured, as there are lot of different things that need to be implemented in this type of design—one that will be 3D printed and injection molded— for it to work. I went through about 25 iterations before I came to the final prototype design, and every time I sent a design to be 3D printed, I got it back promptly, and they gave me great feedback, which was super helpful,” he added.

Nolley—who is also minoring in creative writing and completed Purdue University’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program—not only credits D-VELoP’s resources and personnel for helping him and his partner get to this point with the start-up The Graphite Lab and the GripIt product, but he also noted that many people, resources, and services at Purdue have been invaluable during his college career.

“No one has helped me more at Purdue than Debbi Bearden, my academic advisor in the Krannert Leaders Academy. She has helped provide me with all the many, wonderful opportunities I have benefited from as a Purdue student. Debbi has made my time at Purdue absolutely the most fruitful experience I have had in my life,” he noted.

Nolley also took advantage of Purdue University’s Foundry, which, according to the Purdue Foundry website, “exists to help Purdue students, faculty, and local alumni move ideas to the marketplace more quickly.”

“My freshman year at Purdue, I founded ‘Jacob’s Loom,’ a start-up project that I ended up closing because of financing problems, which is part of the inspiration for using the crowdfunding approach for Collin’s and my current start-up project,” he explained. “The resources at the Purdue Foundry and the staff there—like Tim Peoples, Purdue Foundry managing director, and John Hanak, managing director of Purdue Ventures—were pivotal in providing me with the skills to be successful with The Graphite Lab and GripIt.”

Nolley also credits his former Purdue instructor Beth Carroll (who now works in the retail sector)—who taught courses in Purdue University’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program—for helping him learn and hone his entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.

Purdue University student Jacob Nolley and friends demonstrate how the GripIt product works to take a selfie.
Purdue University student Jacob Nolley and friends demonstrate how the GripIt product works to take a selfie.

“She is one of the most helpful faculty members I have ever worked with,” Nolley said.

Nolley and Clevenger launched their Indiegogo campaign just this week, and they only have short window, about a month, to get to their fundraising goal of $15,000. The good news is that, as of June 1, they already have close to 100 backers and have raised more than $1,000.

“We used Indiegogo because we wanted to show it is possible that you do not have to sell your ideas and efforts to get your company off the ground. That is what we want to do with our customers of The Graphite Lab,” Nolley explained. “So, when people bring their products to us, we want to help them get their ideas off the ground and sell their products through our sales channels, but we do not want to own their products. Many times, what happens with young entrepreneurs, in order to get their ideas to market, they have to ‘sell their souls to the devil,’ so to speak, and sell off their companies and product-development ideas and efforts. So, in the long term, they do not earn those profits. We want to lead by example, and we are trying to show young entrepreneurs that they do not have to sell their companies and/or ideas. We are providing them with another option through The Graphite Lab.”

For more information, check out the GripIt Indiegogo campaign at and/or contact Nolley at or Clevenger at


Throwback Thursday: A Look Back at the Engineering Libraries

June 29th, 2017

“To build up the future, you have to know the past.” — Otto Frank


“From the Past to the Future” series by Teresa Brown also appears in INSIDe, the Purdue University Libraries’ newsletter for Libraries personnel. As faculty and staff in Purdue University Libraries consolidate six libraries in the Library of Engineering and Science in the new Wilmeth Active Learning Center this summer, we’ll feature the history of each of the now closed libraries here on a regular basis.

by Teresa Brown

In the 1950s, and into the 1970s, the Schools of Engineering were served by many separate libraries:

  • Aeronautical Engineering was at the airport until it was combined with the Engineering Sciences Library in the mid-1960s. That library was then combined with the Industrial Engineering Library in the late 1960s and was located on the third floor of Grissom Hall.
  • Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering was first noted in 1927, located in an office. In 1971, it was remodeled and moved to the basement of the Chemical Engineering building, now Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering.
  • In 1963-64, the Civil Engineering Library was formally named the R.B. Wiley Memorial Library for Civil Engineering and moved into the Civil Engineering Building (Hampton) from the old Civil Engineering Building (Grissom Hall).
  • Electrical Engineering Sciences was located in the Electrical Engineering in three rooms on the second floor.
  • Mechanical Engineering was located in the Mechanical Engineering building on the second floor.
  • The Nuclear Engineering Library moved from the Michael Golden Engineering Laboratories in July 1971 to the second floor of the Engineering Administration building (the current site of the Wilmeth Active Learning Center) and included departmental faculty office space.

A look back at the engineering libraries at Purdue

In 1977, all the libraries were combined into the Siegesmund Engineering Library. (Editor’s note: I worked in all these libraries as a student employee, 1973-1977, under Ed Posey.)

A.A. Potter Engineering Research Center
A.A. Potter Engineering Research Center

Siegesmund Engineering Library

On April 22, 1977, the A.A. Potter Engineering Research Center was dedicated and a unified engineering library was opened for business.

Funds for the $6 million building were made possible partially by gifts received from engineering alumni and other friends of the Schools of Engineering during Purdue’s 1969 Centennial Fund Drive.

The Potter Center was named in honor of Dean Emeritus Audrey A. Potter who served as Purdue’s Engineering Dean, from 1920-1953. Dean Potter was born in Vilna, Russia, and came to the United States in 1897. He was an educator, counselor, inventor, administrator and author who was dedicated to making Purdue’s Engineering Schools one of the most recognized in the country.

The new library was named in honor of John C. And Lillian W. Siegesmund, benefactors of the building and library project.

At the time of the library’s grand opening, Edwin D. Posey was the Engineering Librarian. The merger of the six individual engineering libraries and the Goss Collection were Posey’s main reason for staying at Purdue for 26 years.

“Basically the individual engineering schools were against a merger, but many people, besides the librarians, could see the advantages that a single engineering library would offer its students and teaching staff,” Posey said.

It was billed as a “unified” engineering library, which in addition to the traditional library services, would have computer-controlled, student-activated storage and retrieval systems.

The original library plans included 45,000 square feet, but when enough funds could not be raised, the space was reduced to 24,000 square feet. Rather than give up the idea of a unified engineering library, Posey worked with the building’s architects to create a floor plan that included the Mezzanine floor in addition to its two floors of space.

Once the building was completed, “Operation Booklift” took place. The task of moving and shuffling 100,000 books (1/10 of the entire libraries’ collection) to the new library took approximately 5,300 staff hours, $11,000 and over two months to complete. It was the largest physical movement of books in the university’s history.

Since its grand opening in 1977, the Engineering Library has had two head librarians, Ed Posey and Sheila Curl. In 2003, Michael Fosmire was appointed as Head, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology Division. Prior head librarians included Mary Lee Rudd and Richard Funkhouser.