Skip to main content

Purdue University Commencement programs and invitations collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 158

Scope and Contents

The Purdue University Commencement programs and invitations collection documents Purdue University commencement exercises and related events. The collection contains two scrapbooks which hold items from the earliest Purdue commencement and related events; 1883-1900. The first scrapbook contains invitations and programs from the 9th Purdue commencement - 18th commencement, along with Carlyle Literary Society, Philalethean and Irving Literary Society programs and related events that took place during commencement week. Also of note are commencement invitations from Indiana high schools and various colleges, and a flyer from freshmen "Can-Can!" The second scrapbook contains invitations and programs from the 19th - 26th Purdue commencement, a chart with colored ribbons indicating which colors were used for diplomas and various other programs and invitations.

The remainder of the collection consists of commencement programs, invitations and addresses. There are also a few commencement items from the School of Pharmacy, School of Medicine and Army Specialized Training Unit, 154th Service Unit.

Types of materials include: commencement addresses, invitations, programs and scrapbooks.


  • 1883 - 2018

Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University.

Historical Information

Purdue University's first commencement took place in 1875. The graduating class consisted of one graduate, John Bradford Harper, a transfer student from Northwestern Christian University in Indianapolis, which later became Butler. Harper received a degree in Chemistry. In 1877 Purdue would graduate its first students to complete their entire coursework at the university; Eulora Miller from Lafayette was the first female graduate, and Franklin Pierce Clark from Baltimore, Ohio was the first out of state student to receive a Bachelor of Science degree.

In 1882, the School of Agriculture awarded its first Bachelor of Science degrees to Henry A. Beck, William E. Driscoll and Elwood Mead. In 1890, George W. Lacey would become Purdue's first African American graduate, and Genzo Murata of Japan would become the first international student to graduate.

To learn more about Purdue University's first graduates, refer to the Purdue Archives's blog.
  1. Overcoming the Odds: A Look Back at Our Earliest Chinese Students -
  2. Purdue and India, Part 1: The First Indian Students at Purdue -
  3. Celebrating Black History Month: Firsts by Purdue African-American Students and Alumni -


7.165 Cubic Feet (Six cubic feet boxes, one letter-size full-width manuscript box, and one legal-size full-width manuscript box.)


The collection has been grouped into three series. The programs have been placed in chronological order when possible; bound volumes did not allow for this at times.
  1. Scrapbooks
  2. Commencement and Related Programs and Invitations
  3. Commencement Programs (bound volumes)

Physical Access Information

The scrapbooks are in fragile condition and should be handled with care.

Acquisition Information

Source and date of acquisition are unknown. Some of the programs were obtained from the Office of the Registrar.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Polyester sleeves were used where warranted.
Purdue University Commencement programs and invitations collection
Under Review
Mary A. Sego and Jennifer Sdunzik
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 2014-08-06

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States