Primary Source Materials on Campus

Within Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, researchers are able to study, interact, and learn via primary source materials. Prospective researchers can search our full database of archival collections using Archon to review collections prior to visiting. Rare books and Purdue-related publications can be found using the Purdue Libraries catalog and viewed within the Archives and Special Collections reading room. Researchers also have access to e-Archives, our repository of digitized and born-digital archival documents. The items listed on this page are a sample of the collections, papers, records, and resources available.


These collections are a small sample of the many varied materials within Purdue Archives and Special Collections. Collections contain documents, photographs, printed material, scrapbooks, and other materials documenting all aspects of Purdue, state, national, and international history.

George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers and Amelia Earhart at Purdue papers

Includes correspondence, creative writings, photographs, maps and charts, flight logs, and personal items such as flying jacket, helmet, and goggles and medals/awards of the famous aviator. Earhart worked part-time at Purdue from 1935-1937 as a Consultant in the Study of Careers for Women and Technical Advisor in Aviation. The Purdue Research Foundation helped purchase the airplane she disappeared in following her second world flight attempt.

NOTE:The collections have been fully digitized and are available in e-Archives. Access to originals in the Earhart collection is strictly controlled. Patrons seeking access to the original materials must contact Archives and Special Collections at

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Library of Management and Gilbreth Family papers

The working files, films, photographs, artifacts, and some personal files of the couple who inspired the book Cheaper by the Dozen. The Gilbreths were pioneers in management and time and motion studies. Lillian Gilbreth joined the Purdue engineering faculty in 1935.

NOTE: Select Gilbreth motion picture films have been digitized and are available in e-Archives.

John T. McCutcheon Collection

Includes approximately 1,000 original cartoon drawings (dating from 1903 to 1946) by Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist John T. McCutcheon, along with books of his cartoons. McCutcheon created cartoons for the Chicago Tribune, and graduated from Purdue in 1889. He was also instrumental in founding and designing the first Purdue yearbook, the Debris, in 1889.

Charles Major Collection

Includes the literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and personal library of the famous author, whose books, such as When Knighthood was In Flower, were tremendously successful. Major was on the Board of Trustees of Purdue from 1902 to 1913.

George Ade Collection

Includes the literary manuscripts and personal library of famous Hoosier author, folklorist, and playwright George Ade. An 1887 graduated of Purdue, Ade served as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News and was the principal founder of the Sigma Chi Fraternity house at Purdue. Along with David Ross, he also contributed to the building of the Ross-Ade Stadium at Purdue.

Andrey A. Potter Papers

Includes business files, correspondence, articles, speeches, photographs, and artifacts of Andrey A. Potter, a pioneer in engineering education and former Dean of Engineering (1920-1953) and Acting President of Purdue (1945).

Charles Ellis Papers

Files and photographs documenting Charles Ellis’ design of the Golden Gate Bridge. Ellis was a gifted mathematician and structural engineer who was on the faculty of Purdue from 1934 to 1946. He was an expert in bridge design and constructed all of the mathematical calculations for the bridge design single-handedly. However, due to conflicts with chief engineer Joseph Strauss, his name was later removed from the official bridge documents. In the last several years scholars have rediscovered Ellis and credited him as the true designer of the bridge.

John Purdue Papers

The business and family papers of the University’s founder, John Purdue. Includes an interesting set of old newspapers Purdue picked up during his frequent business travels all around the globe.


Purdue Photo Collections

Includes Purdue-related photographs and negatives of:

  • Buildings on Campus
  • Events
  • Schools
  • Faculty, Staff, and Purdue Presidents
  • Campus Scenes

Images are primarily black & white, but include some color photos

Date Range: late 1800s-present (bulk of photos date from 1900s-1960s)
NOTE: Many of these are also digitized and available online through e-Archives. Also search our collections database Archon to locate specific photo collections of interest.

Purdue Vertical Files

Vertical files (consisting primarily of newspaper clippings, press releases, and some ephemera) on a variety of subjects relating to Purdue, including:

  • Purdue News
  • Campus Buildings
  • Events
  • Schools/Colleges/Departments
  • Faculty and Staff

Date Range: 1920s-present (bulk of files date from 1960s-present)
NOTE: Review the vertical files collection record and accompanying PDF listing all subjects.

Faculty Papers

Business and some personal files of various Purdue faculty and administrative staff, including papers of past Purdue Presidents. Includes publications by Purdue faculty and staff, such as articles and books on a variety of subjects. Documents the work of the faculty, key decisions made over time, and general history of Purdue.

Date Range: 1874-present
NOTE: Search for specific collections within Archon; see references within the Archived Purdue Publications Database

Debris Yearbooks

Purdue student yearbooks include photographs and information on students and faculty, various schools, departments, and campus organizations. Some include name indexes in the backs of the yearbooks, others do not.

Date Range: 1889-2008 (publication ended)
NOTE: Original print copies of all yearbooks are available. All yearbooks are digitized and available online through e-Archives. Associated references are searchable through the Archived Purdue Publications Database.

Exponent Newspapers [index only]

Purdue newspapers containing information on key events on campus, major changes and decisions made, new departments and organizations, and student and faculty profiles.

Date Range: 1889-present
NOTE: Associated references are searchable through the Archived Purdue Publications Database. All years available on microfilm on the second floor of the HSSE Library.

Other Purdue Publications

Various other publications, newsletters, minutes, and reports issued by Purdue and its schools, organizations, and departments. Select publications include:

  • Purdue Engineer
  • Purdue Alumnus
  • Course Catalogs
  • Campus Maps, 1874-present
  • Campus Phone Directories and Lafayette Phone Directories
  • Annual Reports for Purdue and its Schools/Departments
  • Financial Reports
  • Newsletters
  • Alumni Directories
  • Commencement Programs
  • Board of Trustees minutes
  • University Faculty and University Senate minutes
  • Publications by various Purdue schools and organizations

Date Range: mid 1800s-present
NOTE: All publications and materials are available to visitors within Archives and Special Collections. Board of Trustees minutes are digitized and available in e-Archives.

Rare Book Collections

NOTE: All of ASC’s rare books are discoverable within the Libraries online catalog. Books are housed according to collection; please have the collection name and call number ready when requesting a title. If a question arises, ask a staff member. To view descriptions of the rare books collections within Archives and Special Collections, please visit our Rare Books page.