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Purdue University Athletics collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 160

Scope and Contents

The Purdue University Athletics collection documents Purdue athletics from the earliest years to recent times. The majority of the collection consists of items related to Purdue football; a scrapbook of clippings from the 1800s that contains Purdue football related articles from Lafayette, Indianapolis and Chicago newspapers. The clippings include an article about Purdue’s first football win on November 16, 1889, an article about the game against Wabash, November 23, 1889, that prompted the nickname “Boilermakers,” and the first game played against Indiana University in 1890. Also included are numerous football programs, yearbooks and press releases and marketing material from Purdue’s participation in the 1967 and 2001 Rose Bowl games.

Other items of note are newspapers that feature headlines and stories about the 1947 bleacher collapse, a record book from the earliest years of the Purdue Women’s Athletic Association, items related to Purdue Field Days and memorabilia dating back to the earliest years of Purdue sports. There is also a collector set of five Purdue Pete bobble heads, featuring the various Purdue Pete designs from 1956-2016.

Types of materials include: artifacts, booklets, brochures, clippings, Women’s Athletic Association constitution and bylaws, handbooks, newspapers containing information on the 1947 bleacher collapse, posters, photographs, press releases, programs, records, scorecards, statistics, tickets and yearbooks.


  • 1880 - 2016


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

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

Historical Information

The earliest history of Purdue athletics It is noted by Winthrop E. Stone, Chairman Faculty Committee on Athletics in an Annual Report of the Officers of State of the State, 1900, "…Since Purdue students first began to evince an interest in athletics, the Faculty has, as a matter of policy, presented an attitude of sympathy and co-operation; at the same time insisting upon a constant recognition of the principles of clean, manly sport, and of a proper subordination of athletics to other important interests of the University and students. In the pursuance of this principle, Purdue has acquired an enviable reputation in athletics, and has been at times recognized as one of the most progressive institutions of the middle West in its athletic policy."

It is noted in this report that there is no record of the first intercollegiate contests in which Purdue students participated, but it is highly likely that baseball games were played with neighboring institutions early in Purdue’s history.

The first field day contests were held by the graduating class of 1887.

In the fall of 1887 the first intercollegiate football game was played with Butler College. Stone notes in the report, "Since that time, which may be considered as about the beginning of the introduction of this game in the West, Purdue was engaged regularly in this sport with all of the leading colleges of the Middle West."

In 1893 a group of citizens of Lafayette offered a silver Tiffany cup to the college which was able to hold the football championship of Indiana for three successive years. The cup was won by Purdue, and from 1891 to 1899 Purdue was acknowledged champion of the State in football.

Stone also states, "Previous to 1891, games of baseball and football had been played on grounds located in the city, and Field Day sports were conducted upon the drives and lawn of campus. In 1891 the Trustees voted to set aside a plat of eight acres, immediately to the north of the campus, to be used as an athletic field, and to be known as Stuart Field, in honor of the President of the Board, the late C.B. Stuart. Money was appropriated to enclose the field, and the work was completed on April 15, 1892. The field was dedicated the following day by a baseball game with Butler College. From funds derived from admissions fee, the Athletic Association constructed in 1892 bleachers capable of seating about eight hundred persons."

In 1898, the sophomore class contributed money, labor and material for the construction of a banked racing track around the outer edge of Stuart Field, oval in form and one-third of a mile in length, and also a cinder path for straight-away running events. The same class, upon graduation, gave President Smart $500 to be used for the construction of a covered pavilion for the athletic field. This pavilion was able to hold 600 persons and was erected during the summer of 1899 on the west border of the field.

Stone also notes in his report, "…The organization of athletic affairs at Purdue has been based upon a fair representation of all interested, and upon a systematic and business-like management. Previous to 1890 each athletic sport represented in the University had its own directors, selected from the student body. In June, 1890, an athletic association was organized which, however, did not reach its full development until May, 1891, when at a student mass meeting, a constitution was adopted, and the machinery of the Purdue Athletic Association was set in operation."

In the fall of 1894, President Smart issued a call for a conference on athletic matters between the Presidents of Illinois, Chicago, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Purdue. The meeting was held in Chicago, January 12, 1895, with all the Presidents reporting, with the exception of President Angell of Michigan. A draft of rules for the regulation of intercollegiate sports had already been prepared by President Smart and was adopted at this meeting. Indiana and Iowa later joined this "College Conference on Athletics."


11.562 Cubic Feet (Fifteen letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, six legal-size full-width manuscript boxes, two letter-size half-width manuscript boxes, two cubic feet boxes, and one flat box)


The collection is organized into six series and corresponding sub-series, and descriptions preceed each.


  1. Football
  2. Men’s Basketball
  3. Hockey and Baseball
  4. Track and Class Day/Field Days
  5. Women’s Athletics
  6. General and Intercollegiate Information, Intramural Athletics and Recreational Sports

Acquisition Information

The source and date of most of the items in the collection are unknown. Numerous football programs and football final statistics were donated by Robert and Melinda Bain, 2010. Some additional football programs were donated by Tom Haworth and Katie Markee. Bob Lackey, BCE 1891, donated the scrapbook of 1880s football clippings. A collector set of five Purdue Pete bobble heads, obtained by Mary Sego, was added in 2016.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Photographs have been placed into polyester sleeves. Most newsprint has been photocopied or scanned. Front pages of newspapers have been preserved for display purposes, with scans made available for research. Oversized posters have been separated and grouped into individual series and acid-free folders for preservation purposes.
Purdue University Athletics collection
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 was first completed 2015-12-12.

Revision Statements

  • 2016-09-26: Addition of collector set of five Purdue Pete bobble heads, featuring the various Purdue Pete designs from 1956-2016.
  • 2018-11-30: Collection description updated, by Mary A. Sego.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States