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Paul E. Stanley Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 50
The Paul E. Stanley papers (1910-1969; 4 cubic feet) 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. Please see pdf Finding Aid for the detailed inventory.


  • 1910-1969
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1947-1969
  • Other: Date acquired: 05/01/1978


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Purdue University


4.00 Cubic Feet

8 mss._boxes

2 flat_box


The papers of Paul Stanley document the work of one of the earliest professors in the Purdue University School of Aeronautics (known today as Aeronautics and Astronautics). Materials include photographs, curriculum and floor plans, newspaper clippings, brochures, and other related documents pertaining to air transportation, space exploration, the 1969 landing on the moon (Stanley taught Neil Armstrong), and Purdue's Division of Engineering Sciences. There is a concentration of items from the earliest years of the School of Aeronautics; historical and publicity information, reports, building plans and related materials.

Biographical / Historical

Paul E. Stanley graduated from Manchester College in 1930 and received his master’s degree and doctorate from Ohio State University in 1933 and 1938 respectively. From 1936-1943 he served on the physics staff at Wheaton College, at which time he also served as Coordinator for the Civilian Pilot Training Program. He later served as Director of Ground School at Purdue University’s Navy War Training Service (WTS) Program. Stanley joined the combined Mechanical Engineering – Aeronautics School on January 1, 1945, as an instructor. He was promoted to assistant professor on July 1, 1945 and became a member of both the Air Transportation and Aeronautical Engineering staffs. He taught courses in air transportation, fluid mechanics, and stability and control.

Paul Stanley, along with Elmer Bruhn and Joseph Liston were 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 1965 he began a one year leave to study bioengineering. His work in this area dealt with various aspects of instrumentation and hospital safety and led to the formation of a Biomedical Engineering Center at Purdue in 1973. He served as the acting director, until a permanent director was hired in 1974.

Stanley retired from Purdue in 1976 after 30 years of service. He passed away on May 16, 1983.

Source: Stanley, P.E. (1947). Aviation at Purdue. Navigation, March, p. 10. Web 2 Sept. 2015/ >

Grandt, A. F., Gustafson, W. A., Cargnino, L. T. (1995). One small step: The history of aerospace engineering at Purdue University. West Lafayette, IN: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University.

Knoll, H.B. (1963). Story of Purdue Engineering. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Studies.

Arrangement Note

The papers are organized into seven series:

Series 1. School of Aeronautics Reports and Records, 1947-1968, (0.8 cubic feet). This series contains some of the initial planning documents for the Schools of Aeronautics and Engineering Sciences. Within this series are School of Aeronautics annual report for 1947-1949, compiled by then Head, E. F. Bruhn. “Preliminary Report of the Advanced Planning Committee of the Division of Engineering Sciences, Purdue University,” December 1959; “Aeronautical Engineering, abstracted from the History of Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue University, by Professor H. B. Knoll,” June 1961; Aeronautics and Engineering Sciences Curriculum Committee minutes and documents, August 9 – October 30, 1961; “Quarter Century of BSAE,” 1968, and other publicity from 1968. The second part of this series contains material that Stanley had in envelopes marked “Air Transportation.” He was one of the first professors in this area, and was instrumental in developing the curriculum, labs, and organizing conferences. One can find programs, brochures, curriculum planning documents, Air Transportation field trip information, correspondence and historical information on Purdue’s Air Transportation Division.

Materials in the series are arranged chronologically. The “Air Transportation” material was left as received and grouped as such in the second box.

Series 2. Pamphlets, Brochures, Bulletins, and Miscellaneous Items, 1942-1957, (0.4 cubic feet). Some of the unique items in the series include, Bulletin of Purdue University, “Purdue University at Work during the War Year of 1942-1943; pamphlet/map/curriculum, Professional Pilot Course for Students from Other Lands, Purdue Aeronautics Corporation, Purdue University Airport, West Lafayette, Indiana,  circa 1946; pamphlets, Purdue University Hammond Center, and pamphlet, “Next Step…Registration!” Registration of Professional Engineers, and “Aero and A.T. Marching Song,” circa 1945; Bulletin of Purdue University, “75 Years of Service to the State of Indiana,” annual report of the President, 1949, along with other Purdue, Engineering Sciences, and School of Aeronautics items from the 1940s-1950s. Please see the complete listing below.

Series 3. Photographs and Negatives, 1909-1956, (0.9 cubic feet). This series provides a unique look into the earliest years of the Purdue Airport, aero equipment and labs, and staff (most unmarked). There is also a photo album titled, “Purdue Aeronautical Engineering,” which also contains clippings from the 1940s. The clippings and photographs have been retained as originally placed in the album.  There is also one folder which contains photographs of aircraft and pilots dating from 1909-1964. Other photographs were in envelopes marked, “Inter-American PTP, Class 45B,” “Before 1945,” “Air Transportation Department,” and “1952 Pictures (Annual Report).” These have been transferred to archival folders, sleeved and retained in their original named groups.

Series 4. Aeronautics, Astronautics, and Purdue Journals and Publications, 1952-1972, (0.4 cubic feet). Found in this series are journals and publications that feature stories about Purdue University’s School of Engineering and School of Aeronautics, along with others on Apollo 11 (many front page stories), and other Apollo missions.

The journals and publications are arranged chronologically. Series 5.  Articles Related to Moon Landing, 1959-1969, (0.4 cubic feet). Stanley had the articles in the first folder of this series in an envelope marked, “Why Go to the Moon?” The second folder contains articles about the Apollo 11 moon landing, along with an invitation addressed to Stanley by Neil Armstrong (his former student) and a packet of information for the homecoming celebration for Armstrong in Wapakoneta, Ohio, September 6, 1969 (includes invitation signed by Armstrong, to limited luncheon). Lastly, there was a Centennial Fund Program, “beyond the commonplace…Purdue University,” 1969 in the original envelope, so it remains in this series. The cover photo shows Earth photographed from space and an Apollo capsule on an actual mission, photographed from the Lunar Module “Spider.”

Series 6.  Clippings and Newspapers, 1913-1972, (0.45 cubic feet). In this series one can find a collection of clippings of planes and pilots dating from 1913-1972. 

There is also a collection of front page news stories from the Apollo 11 moon landing, with newspapers dated July 14-25, 1969. For preservation purposes, a few miscellaneous items have been added to this oversized box; a poster, Greater Rockford, “Rockford to Stockholm,” Pilot B. R. J. “Fish” Hassell, departed Rockford, Illinois, August 19, 1928, arrived Rockford, May 13, 1969 (signed by pilot) and a Purdue 75th anniversary commemorative booklet, “Purdue Yesterday and Today, 75th Anniversary, 1949.”

Series 7.  Floor Plans and Related Documents, 1939-1960, (.65 cubic feet). This series is comprised of plans for the expansion of the Purdue Airport and Aeronautics labs to accommodate the new and growing School of Aeronautics. One can find the reports;  “A Program for Training Aviation Mechanics at Purdue University,” 1939 (includes photographs of Engineering Shops and Michael Golden Labs), and “Improvement of Facilities for Instruction in Aeronautical Engineering,” by K. D. Wood and Joseph Liston,” June 3, 1940 (includes blueprints); various floor plans, and related documentation. Other reports include, “Survey of Possible Wind Tunnel Requirements for School of Aeronautics, Purdue University,” 1941-1947, and Aircraft Engine Laboratory, planning documents, budget, floor plans, curriculum plans/charts, and related documents, 1941-1947. There is also an initial “Aviation at Purdue,” brochure, 1945 (includes edited text and inserts), and a School of Aeronautics Annual Report to the President, Purdue University, 1951-1952, to back-up plans for expansion, along with the resulting, “Specification for Complete Construction, Aeronautical Engineering Laboratory, Purdue University Airport, Walter Scholer and Associates, Architects, Lafayette, Indiana,” circa 1959-1960.

The documents were originally in four manila envelopes marked, “sketches and floor plans,” and were arranged as found in, hence the organization of four pairs of “folder 1 of 1, 2 of 2.” The last two folders have been placed in a flat archival box to accommodate the larger floor plans, sketches and blueprints.

Source of Acquisition


Related Materials

Harold M. Degroff Jr. papers: [url=

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes.  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
Mary A. Sego
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States