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Paul E. Stanley papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 50

Scope and Contents

The Paul E. Stanley papers document the earliest years of the School of Aeronautics and the planning that went into creating the school. Other material among the papers pertain to the early years of the Purdue Airport and Division of Engineering Sciences. Neil Armstrong was a student of Stanley's, and there are clippings, front pages of newspapers, reports, an invitation sent by Armstrong to Stanley for his homecoming celebrating in Wapakoneta, Ohio, along with other pre and post-Apollo 11 items.

The papers contain numerous photographs from the early years of the Purdue Aeronautical Engineering labs, the Purdue Airport, staff, students from the Inter-American Aviation Training Program, and other photos of planes and pilots that Stanley had collected. The papers hold valuable planning documents and reports for the School of Aeronautical Engineering, including research material, curriculum charts and planning documents, floor plans and sketches for the addition of labs at the airport and elsewhere, and the specifications for complete construction of the Aeronautical Engineering Laboratory, Purdue University Airport, prepared by Walter Scholer and Associates, Architects, Lafayette, Indiana. There is also a wealth of pamphlets, brochures, bulletins and other such items from the earliest years of the Air Transportation Program, Aeronautical Engineering School and Engineering Sciences.

Types of materials include: annual reports, booklets, brochures, bulletins, clippings, correspondence, floor plans, negatives, pamphlets, photographs, planning drawings, publicity, records, reports, sketches, and specifications.


  • 1909 - 1972
  • Majority of material found within 1947 - 1969


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Portions of material in this collection are in the public domain. Other material copyrights held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Paul E. Stanley, engineer and professor, was born in Bippus, Indiana, near Huntington on November 6, 1909. He received his A.B. degree from Manchester College in 1930 and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Ohio State University in 1933 and 1937. From 1937 to 1943 Stanley was on the faculty at Wheaton College where he taught physics.

In 1943 he became an instructor in the Purdue Aeronautics Corporation, which was engaged in a civil pilot training program for the U.S. Army Air Corps. He later served as Director of Ground School at Purdue University’s Navy War Training Service (WTS) Program. He taught most of the ground school courses and in 1945 joined the newly created combined Mechanical Engineering – Aeronautics School on January 1, 1945, as an instructor. He was promoted to assistant professor on July 1, 1945. Early on in the new School of Aeronautics he taught air transportation courses. He also acted as a counselor to undergraduates and administered the undergraduate aeronautics program. In the 1950’s Stanley taught in the School’s two parallel programs, Air Transportation and Aeronautical Engineering. When the Air Transportation program was phased out in 1955, he taught fluid mechanics, stability and control of flight vehicles, aircraft control equipment, and analog and digital computer application to aircraft systems in the Aeronautical Engineering program. In 1960 he was appointed executive assistant to the head of the School and served as interim head of the School of Aeronautical and Engineering Sciences from 1963 to 1965.

Paul Stanley, along with Elmer Bruhn and Joseph Liston, was instrumental in founding the Purdue University School of Aeronautics. They consulted leaders in industry to formulate curricula and laboratories. With Bruhn as head, the School of Aeronautical Engineering held its first registration in the fall of 1945, with 239 students enrolled. Two years later, after veterans had time to return, 736 students were enrolled in the School of Aeronautical Engineering. During the period 1946-1950, Stanley acted as an assistant administrator for the School, particularly the Air Transportation Division. He later served as interim head from 1964-1965.

In the 1960s he changed his research focus to the area of biomedical engineering with the emphasis on safety of electrical instruments used in hospitals in the treatment patients. In the 1970s he developed a clinical engineering program along with Dr. Barry Feinberg and Dr. Vernon Newhouse in the School of Electrical Engineering. In 1973, the Biomedical Engineering Center was created at Purdue and Stanley acted as interim director. When Dr. Leslie Geddes became director in 1974, Stanley became assistant director.

After retiring in 1976, Stanley continued research and authoring research papers and edited a book and contributed a chapter.

He was a member of the National Fire Protection Association, was on the board of the Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, and served as chairman of the Biomedical Division of the American Society for Quality Control. Locally he was known as a lay minister and guest preacher for a number of congregations.


3.72 Cubic Feet (Six letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, one letter-size half-width box, one legal-size full-width box, and two flat boxes)


The collections consists of seven series.
  1. School of Aeronautics reports and records
  2. Pamphlets, brochures, bulletins, and miscellaneous items
  3. Photographs and negatives
  4. Aeronautics, Astronautics, and Purdue journals and publications
  5. Articles related to moon landing
  6. Clippings and newspapers
  7. Floor plans and related documents

Acquisition Information

The papers were transferred by the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics to Purdue University Archives and Special Collections on January 17, 1977.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes. Photographs have been placed in polyester sleeves.  All newsprint has been photocopied and in most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded. Some clippings containing images of people or color graphics, or front pages of newspapers, have been preserved for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research. Oversized newspapers have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes.
Paul E. Stanley papers
Under Review
Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Third edition. Collection description first completed 2015-07-25.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-04-25: Collection description updated to new standards by Mary A. Sego.
  • 2021-03-29: Biographical Information updated by E. Sandgren with sketch written by David Hovde

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States