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Granville C. Thompson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 252

Scope and Contents

Granville Thompson's photographs document Indiana highway bridge construction projects dating from 1921-1943. Approximately 41 bridge construction projects are covered, at around 33 location sites in Indiana. The collection includes approximately 398 photographic prints and 219 negatives. Many of the original structures in the photographs no longer exist.

The photographs were primarily taken by Thompson using a Kodak IA folding camera, on 116 film. (The camera was later donated to the Kodak Museum by Robert Thompson). A small number of the photographs were taken by J. B. Manson, M. M. Porter [H. H. Porter?], or "Mr. Wooley," of the U.S. Bureau of Roads. Most of the images are 2.5" x 4.5" in size. Not every print has a negative, and not every negative has a print.

Most of the images are identified by location and/or project or contract number. There may be state records of the contracts or projects that will provide further identification for each image. The project numbers tend to begin with the number of the state road or highway included in the project.


  • 1921 - 1943


Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Granville Curtis Thompson was born in West Bend, Kentucky on January 29, 1898. His parents were married in Batholomew County in 1892 near what is now Hope, Indiana. Thompson's father was a local preacher in the community. Thompson had one older sibling, Edith, born in 1893. The family moved to West Bend in 1896. They later relocated to Kingsville, Kentucky in 1900. Thompson's younger brother, Hubert, was born there in 1900. In 1902, the family moved again to Manchester, Indiana. Thompson's younger sister, Lois, was born there in 1902.  The family continued to move around for the following years, to Battesville (1905), Henryville (1908), Francisco (1911), and Graysville (1913). Thompson's other brother, Leete, was born in Graysville in 1915. 

Thompson graduated from high school in Graysville in 1917, and then followed his sister Edith to Indiana State Normal School in Terre Haute that same year. He became a teacher in Plainville in 1917. From 1917 to 1918, Thompson and his brother Hubert drove trucks out of Baltimore for a contractor who was building a muster and chlorine gas plant at the Army Arsenal at Edgewood, Maryland. In October 1918, Thompson entered the Army in Pullman, Washington, working guard duty. By December his Army service was over and in 1919 he began teaching again, in Lewis County in Washington.

By the end of 1919, Thompson had returned to Indiana and enrolled at Purdue. However, due to monetary concerns he left Purdue in 1921 to return to teaching, at Oaktown High School. He later returned to Purdue, graduating with a BSME from the School of Mechanical Engineering in 1925. While at Purdue, Thompson was a member of Kappa Delta Rho, Kappa Phi Sigma, A.S.M.E., the Purdue Union, the Y.M.C.A., the P.A.A., and the Glee Club. Thompson worked as a draftsman for the Indiana State Highway Commission out of Hazelton and Seymour during the summers while he was attending Purdue. After graduation, he began to work for the Commission on a full-time basis, starting in July 1925. Thompson frequently photographed the various bridge and highway construction projects he was involved with, taking photographs for his own enjoyment and to document his work. He left the Highway Commission in 1944 to accept a position with American Zinc Products in Greencastle, Indiana. Thompson continued to work for the company until he retired in 1963.

Thompson was always happiest working outdoors, and he actively continued his civil engineering work as Greencastle city engineer for several years and also was self-employed as a registered land surveyor. When he reached the age of 87 he finally began to cut back on his workload. Thompson died at the age of 91 on December 18, 1989.


1.68 Cubic Feet (Three legal-size full-width manuscript boxes and one flat folder)

Language of Materials



The Granville C. Thompson papers are arranged into two series.
  1. Photographic Prints and Negatives
  2. Personal Papers

Acquisition Information

Collection donated by Robert C. Thompson on October 18, 2004.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of materials are available for research use. See our digital collections database e-Archives: Granville C. Thompson papers

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Photographs and negatives have been placed into protective sleeves.



Granville C. Thompson papers
In Progress
Sammie Morris, Keertana Marella, Simran Zaveri, and Neal Harmeyer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Fourth edition. Collection description was first completed 2004-12-22.

Revision Statements

  • 2011-01-07: Collection description updated by Elizabeth Wilkinson.
  • 2020-04-22: Collection description updated by Keertana Marella.
  • 2023-03-07: Collection description updated by Simran Zaveri and Neal Harmeyer.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States