What do a handwritten thesis about beer, a moondust-covered glove and a movie about John Wooden have in common? All are on display in the 100th anniversary exhibit of the Purdue Archives.
If you have never visited the Archives’ special collections, you are missing out on one of Purdue’s greatest treasures. Established in 1913 along with Purdue’s first stand-alone library, head librarian and historian William Hepburn began reaching out to prominent Purdue alumni to capture their accomplishments and preserve Purdue’s rich history.
Displayed on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Sciences and Education Library in Stewart Center, the exhibit features key items from numerous special collections. David Hovde, the research and instruction librarian who led the team that worked on the exhibit, wanted to include some of the most intriguing items.
“We tried to get an idea of how the collection has evolved over time,” Hovde said. “It includes items that are rarely seen and ones that everyone knows about.”
Some of the most well-known artifacts include the flight and space collections. One can find the ascent card Neil Armstrong used when landing on the moon, some of his hand-written class notes, a moondust-covered glove Gene Cernan used in space and Amelia Earhart’s flight cap and documents.
As opposed to reading about an item in a history book, coming face to face with it evokes an entirely different experience.
“To see the actual thing from the time captures your interest in a new way and makes you want to dig deeper,” said Sammie Morris, head of archives and special collections.
However, the Archives’ history is not limited to that of famous alumni. Memorabilia from students of every decade give insight to life at Purdue for the average student, some of Hovde’s favorite collections.
Before students were posting the weekend’s photos to Facebook or tweeting about the latest game, they were keeping scrapbooks and photo albums. Dance cards, game tickets, sorority and fraternity items, corsages and endless photographs illustrate the evolution of student life at Purdue.
The 100th anniversary exhibit celebrates all that our great institution and alumni have contributed to our community. It is never too late to explore Purdue’s past and discover how Boilermakers lived before we made our own stakes on campus.
Perhaps one day your thesis, class notes or photo albums will make it into the vaults and become an integral part of Boilermaker history.