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Purdue University Commencement programs and invitations collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 158

Scope and Contents

The Purdue University Commencement programs and invitations collection (1883-2018; 6.8 cubic feet) 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 Purdue commencement - 26th commencement, a chart with colored ribbons indicating which colors were used for diplomas and various other programs and invitations. The scrapbooks are in fragile condition. 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. The programs have been placed in chronological order when possible; bound volumes did not allow for this at times.


  • 1883 - 2018

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Purdue University

Biographical or Historical Information

History of Purdue Commencement Exercises

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 George Murata of Japan would become the first international student to graduate.

For more information on Purdue’s first graduate see:


6.8 Cubic Feet (Collection is housed in six cubic feet boxes and two manuscript boxes.)


Programs, invitations, addresses and scrapbooks documenting Purdue University graduation ceremonies and graduation week activities.

Method of Acquisition

Legacy items; donors various and 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 and acid-free sleeves where warranted.
Purdue University Commencement programs and invitations collection
Mary A. Sego and Jennifer Sdunzik
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description was first completed 2017-07-03. Third Edition. Additions were added on 2018-06-13

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States