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Mortar Board records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 148
The Mortar Board records (1924-2015; 6.95 cubic feet) document the establishment and myriad activities of the Barbara Cook Chapter of the Mortar Board National Society at Purdue University.  The collection reflects the changing scope of Mortar Board over the years, from their early supportive roles in the university, to their position as a major donor of scholarships and fellowships for women (and later men) students, and their devotion to fostering leadership skills in their members.  This collection might be useful for researchers interested in women’s history and organizations, women’s liberation and the latent effects of Title IX legislation, student life and activities during the twentieth century, scholarship funds, and the impact of the Deans of Women at Purdue.  Types of materials include: correspondence, publications, society records, scrapbooks, photos, slides and negatives, video and audio cassettes, cds, and computer discs.

Dates

  • 1924-2015
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/06/2014

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All copyrights belong to Purdue University.

Extent

6.95 Cubic Feet

13 boxes and 8 OVS scrapbooks (6.95 cubic feet) other_unmapped

1.00 folders

1.00 items

1.00 items

1.00 items

1.00 items

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1.00 items

1.00 items

1.00 flat_box

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 cubic_foot_boxes

1.00 cubic_foot_boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

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1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 flat_box

1.00 flat_box

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

Abstract

The collection contains correspondence, photographs, certificates, pamphlets, and scrapbooks, that document the history and activities of the Mortar Board honor society at Purdue University.

Biographical or Historical Information

The Mortar Board chapter at Purdue University began with the creation of the SLS honor society in the fall of 1924.  The ideals and goals of SLS were embodied in its name, the letters standing for Service, Leadership, and Scholarship.  The seven senior women inducted into the organization in 1924 initially operated secretly and individually within the community to achieve these standards; the ultimate goal was to eventually secure affiliation with the National Mortar Board society.  Beginning with the first class of inductees in the spring of 1925, SLS moved into the public sphere and began to operate as a cohesive unit.  SLS restricted membership to senior women with a minimum grade average of 85, and they were initiated during May Day festivities of their junior year. The focus within SLS was on providing opportunities for and recognition of leadership by women students and the support of their character development.  From its inception, the group aligned itself with other women’s organizations and leaders on campus including the Women’s Athletic Association, the Young Women’s Christian Association, and the Dean of Women.  During the spring of 1926, SLS members began to more actively pursue their proposal for acceptance into the National Mortar Board society.  Members compiled a petition in scrapbook form to be presented by an SLS delegate at the National Mortar Board Conference in November of 1926.  The book contains historical information about and photos of Purdue, SLS, and SLS members and alumnae.  Also included in the book are several letters of support from regional Mortar Board chapters and prominent members of Purdue faculty. After their petition was approved in the fall of 1926, SLS changed their name to the Mortar Board honor society.  Membership was still restricted to senior women of high scholastic aptitude.  Dean Carolyn Shoemaker was a faculty member of the society and supported their various endeavors in the early years, including the sponsorship of a women’s glee club at Purdue, Alpha Lambda Delta, and the Gold Peppers.  In addition to providing support for other women’s groups on campus, Mortar Board hosted annual dances, teas, and breakfasts and engaged in volunteer work in the community.  By the 1930s, they also began to donate scholarship funds to the Dean of Women to be distributed to deserving women students; these early awards served as a precursor for the better-known Mortar Board scholarships and fellowships.      Beginning in 1945, Mortar Board also contributed financially to the scholarship funds offered jointly by the Gold Peppers and Women’s Panhellenic Association.  Mortar Board’s contributions to the various scholarship funds were collected through their annual calendar sales.  By 1955, calendar sales were successful enough to enable Mortar Board to establish a separate scholarship fund in addition to the money contributed to the jointly awarded scholarships.  A report compiled by the Mortar Board Scholarship Committee indicates that by 1971, the group had contributed over $100k to women pursuing their education.  After the advent of Title IX legislation and the inclusion of male students in the club, the scholarships became available to men as well—but it does seem as though women students and Mortar Board members and alumni were given precedence. In addition to their significant contributions to scholarship funds at Purdue University, the Barbara Cook Chapter of the Mortar Board Society sponsored a number of other efforts at the university: lecture series, health clinics, and informational books.  In addition, the group sponsored long-lasting testaments to their presence such as various memorials to the Deans of Women and Amelia Earhart and a pond/sitting area at the Ag Hort Park in honor of their 50th anniversary. The club operates today with a continued focus on the tenets of scholarship, leadership, and service.  Annual calendar sales still fund numerous scholarship and fellowship opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. Source(s): MSP 148, Mortar Board records, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries Debris yearbooks, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University

Note written by Virginia Pleasant

Arrangement Note

1.  Petition Book, 1924-1926 (0.45 cubic feet).  This series consists of the petition book that was compiled in scrapbook format by SLS when they were petitioning for acceptance to the Mortar Board Society.  The book includes historical information on and photos of SLS and Purdue, as well as information about its members and alumni.  The second half of the book contains letters of support from regional chapters of Mortar Board and prominent faculty members.  Of particular note in this section of the book are letters from Carolyn Shoemaker, Virginia Meredith, Mary Matthews, Stanley Coulter, President Elliott, and David Ross.  There is also information about opportunities available to women students and prominent women alumnae and faculty. 2.  Papers, 1925-2015 (2.1 cubic feet).  This series consists of various manuscript material documenting the history and activities of the Barbara Cook Chapter of the Mortar Board Society.  The records also give some indication of the chapter’s interactions with the National Mortar Board Society.  Much of the series is comprised of correspondence with various university officials, scholarship winners, and others.  Also included are some minutes and internal memos. 3. Scrapbooks, 1950-2007 (3 cubic feet).  This series consists of scrapbooks that were compiled by Mortar Board Historians each year. The content of scrapbooks varies from year to year, but generally includes pictures, notes and captions, and clippings related to Mortar Board and women students at Purdue. Materials are organized loosely by year; some larger books may be out of chronological order due to being stored separately. 4.  Photos, Negatives, and Slides, 1927-2003 (0.75 cubic feet).  The photos and slides in this series document the initiation and activities of Barbara Cook Chapter of the Mortar Board Society over the years.  Also depicted is the involvement of the various Deans of Women with group. 5.  Other Media, ca.1987-2009 (0.2 cubic feet).  This series consists of optical drives, removable discs, video and audio cassettes.  They document various activities and events participated in by the Barbara Cook Chapter of the Mortar Board. 6.  Framed Items and Plaques, 1929, 1999-2000 (0.6 cubic feet).  This series consists of a framed copy of a Little Orphan Annie cartoon drawn for the chapter by Harold Gray, a framed medallion, and a plaque honoring Helen Schlemen.

Method of Acquisition

Transferred from Dean of Students Office via Joanna Sharp

Accruals and Additions

In December 2015, approximately four cubic feet of additional Mortar Board materials was accessioned by the Archives (Accession number 20151210). These were transferred from the Student Activities and Organizations Office. The new materials were processed and added to the existing processed collection in February 2016. The bulk of materials added were scrapbooks documenting the membership and activities of Mortar Board; these were organized into their own series.  Additional papers, publications, slides, etc were merged with the existing collection and organized accordingly.

Existence and Location of Originals

multi-part note content

Related Materials

MSF 467, Barbara Cook papers UA 12.05.02-6, Dean of Women records Mortar Board records- Jane Hamblin’s Office Elizabeth Venemann Lyle’s Mortar Board Coat Purdue University. Dean of Students- Mortar Board- Records

Separated Materials

A 1912 copy of the Exponent was separated from the materials as the Mortar Board and its precursor, SLS were not initiated until 1924.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in archival containers.  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 maps, blueprints, diagrams, certificates, and other printed material [OVS]; photographs; and artifacts have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes.  Papers that were originally housed in two binders have been removed from them for preservation purposes but the original groupings within the binders have been preserved.
Title
Mortar Board records
Author
Virginia Pleasant
Date
07/03/2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 09099999: Revised 2/23/2016 to reflect addition (20151210)

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States
765-494-2839