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Purdue University. Army ROTC


biographical statement

As a land grant university, Purdue has been required to teach military tactics since its founding. Purdue’s first Professor of Military Science and Tactics, Civil War veteran Dr. Harvard Wiley, was appointed in 1876. Despite offering classes on military tactics, Purdue didn’t have an organized military structure until 1888, when 1st Lieutenant Pickering was appointed by the Army as Professor of Military Science at Purdue. Under Pickering, the first Corps of Cadets was formed at Purdue, consisting of 76 infantrymen and 16 artillerymen. The Corps’ equipment at the time consisted of 100 Springfield rifles and 2 cannons.

Beginning in 1891, Purdue required all male underclassmen to undergo mandatory military training, as had been stipulated in the Land Grant College Act (Morrill Act). In 1902, Captain Ira Reeves was Professor of Military Science at Purdue, and began reorganizing the then 419-man Corps. His final structure included two battalions of infantry, one battery of artillery, a company of engineers, a signal corps detachment, a hospital corps detachment, and a 40-piece band. It was also around this time that the Purdue artillery became part of the Indiana Militia.

In June 1916, Battery B of the Indiana Field Artillery, which included the Purdue artillery battery, was called up for service in the Mexican Border War by president Woodrow Wilson. They were stationed in Llano Grande, Texas until September 28, 1916, when they were recalled to Indiana and left federal service.

In 1919, following standards set by the 1916 National Defense Act, Purdue reorganized its Corps of Cadets into a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) specializing in Field Artillery. The 1541 cadets that were part of the program at the time were reorganized into five artillery regiments and a 25-piece band.

By 1924, Purdue had 1214 cadets, twelve French 75mm cannons, and three 155mm howitzers. Enrollment peaked in 1941, when there were 2354 cadets at Purdue. Between World War One and World War Two, 1/8 of all Reserve Artillery officers were trained at Purdue ROTC.

From 1946 to 1949, Purdue ROTC added additional course offerings to Field Artillery, including Ordinance, Air Corps, Transportation, Engineering, Signal, and Chemical branches. The Air Corps program would later develop into Purdue’s Air Force ROTC program.

In 1966, enrollment in the Purdue ROTC became optional for underclassmen. Women were allowed to enroll in the ROTC beginning in 1973. Purdue won the MacArthur Award for best ROTC unit in the nation in 1989 and 1997.


"Purdue University Army ROTC History," Purdue Army ROTC website, accessed February 6, 2024.

Found in 13 Collections and/or Records:

Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (AROTC) collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 55
Scope and Contents The Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps collection documents the history of the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (AROTC) at Purdue University. The collection contains many photographs of the Purdue Army ROTC, focusing on the various commissioning classes and their activities. There are also valuable historical documents, military awards and trophies. Other types of materials include: books, clippings, correspondence, handbooks, manuals, printed material, programs, records and slides.
Dates: 1876 - 2001; Other: Majority of material found within 1970 - 1990

Donald A. Bloodgood papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 314
Scope and Contents The Donald A. Bloodgood papers (1946-1949; 1 cubic foot) documents the student life and fraternal pledging of former Purdue student Donald A. Bloodgood. The collection consists primarily of artifacts, with limited documentation concerning their use and function by the alumnus. These objects may be useful for researchers interested in the material culture of Purdue’s ROTC and fraternity organizations during the late 1940s. Types of materials include: pledge sashes, pledge boards, letters, and...
Dates: 1946 - 1949; Other: Date acquired: 09/06/2011

Berwyn E. Brown photographs

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 56, Placement: 04
Identifier: MSP 230
Scope and Contents The Berwyn E. Brown photographs document several buildings and physical structures on the Purdue University campus in 1935. The collection also contains materials depicting Brown's and other Purdue students' activities as military recruits. Of particular note are several photos of the Purdue-based Battery B artillery unit. Types of materials include photographs.
Dates: 1935

Mark N. Brown papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 302
Scope and Contents The Mark N. Brown papers include papers and memorabilia of retired astronaut and Purdue Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering alumnus, Mark N. Brown. Included are Brown's textbooks from his studies at Purdue, Air Force ROTC certificate, Apollo program photographs that were pinned to Brown's Purdue dorm room wall while he was a student in the early 1970s, a Purdue paper airplane contest trophy, along with other Purdue memorabilia.  The collection also includes NASA memorabilia...
Dates: 1963 - 1991

Richard J. Coffee papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 323
Overview Letters, photographs, clippings, and material artifacts documenting the student life of Richard J. Coffee, 1934-1939.   Also included are items from his professional life after graduation.
Dates: 1934 - 1953; Majority of material found within 1934 - 1939

Purdue University Drill Team collection

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 66, Placement: 15
Identifier: UA 79
Scope and Contents Purdue University Drill Team collection (2017; 1 folder) documents Purdue University President Mitch Daniels' acknowledgement of the Purdue ROTC Drill Team's accomplishments during the 2016-2017 academic year. Types of materials include: letters, proclamations.
Dates: 2017

Lloyd E. Keck scrapbook

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSA 303
Scope and Contents The Lloyd E. Keck scrapbook documents the academic, military, personal and social activities of an Engineering student while on Purdue University's campus from 1936-1939, as well as various aspects of his life prior to college from 1917-1936. Keck titled the scrapbook, "Scraps and Snaps, May 27, 1917 - August 1, 1939," but most of the content is from his time at Purdue, 1936-1939.The scrapbook contains many unique photographs of campus and events from the 1930s. Some of the events...
Dates: 1917 - 1939; Majority of material found within 1937 - 1939

Land Grant Centennial Review invitation

 Unprocessed — Box: Communal Accessions 51
Identifier: 2023-004

Robert A. Moller scrapbook

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSA 329
Scope and Contents The Robert A. Moller scrapbook documents the student and military life of Purdue Chemical Engineering student Robert Moller. Most content is related to Moller’s personal acquaintances, though the scrapbook includes several photographs of Purdue campus and scenes around the Greater Lafayette area. Because Moller withdrew from Purdue during his second year (February 1920), materials cover mostly first-year student experiences. The scrapbook includes clippings (information artifacts),...
Dates: Majority of material found within 1919 - 1920

Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (AROTC) collection, addition 01

 Unprocessed — Box: Communal Accessions 22
Identifier: 20210406

Purdue Cadets manual

 Unprocessed — Box: Communal Accessions 50
Identifier: 2022-095
Dates: September 10, 1902

Ernest S. Stoops papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 295
Abstract Collection contains photographs, personal papers, and technical papers documenting the academic and professional career of Ernest S. Stoops, Purdue Class of 1949.
Dates: 1947 - 2008; Majority of material found within 1947 - 1988; Other: Date acquired: 01/03/2016

Student photo album, 1930s

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 22
Scope and Contents The Student photo album, 1930s (1933-1940, 0.2 cubic feet) documents the activities of a student at Purdue University in the 1930s.  In addition to pictures of Purdue campus buildings, there are pictures of the student and several friends in various settings around greater Lafayette and various other cities.  The creator of the album is currently undetermined.  However, judging from the subject matter within the album he was likely involved with the ROTC at Purdue as well as a member of Phi...
Dates: 1933 - 1940