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Helen B. Schleman papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 334

Scope and Contents

The Helen Schleman papers document the life of Helen B. Schleman from her time as a student at Northwestern University in the 1920s up until her death in 1992. Much of the collection documents Schleman’s tenure at Purdue University as Head of the Women’s Residence Halls, Dean of Women, and Dean Emeritus, as well as her military service in the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARs) during World War II. Additionally, the collection contains Schleman’s collection of newspaper clippings pertaining to the women’s liberation struggle of the 1970s. The collection also has many articles and speeches authored by Schleman and documents pertaining to her advocacy for women's rights and professional service. Types of materials include personal and professional correspondence, school and employment records, speech notes, published material, newspaper clippings, photographs, pamphlets from professional organizations, and documents about Schleman’s charitable work.

Dates

  • 1920 - 2003
  • Majority of material found within 1934 - 1980

Creator

Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access information

The collection is open for research.

Copyright and use information

Portions of 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.

Biographical Information

Helen Blanche Schleman was born in 1902 to William and Blanche Schleman in Francesville, Indiana. The Schleman family moved to Valparaiso, Indiana in 1912, where they owned an 800 acre farm, Breyfogle Ranch. William also had a real estate and insurance business; an ice company; and was involved in land development, including the creation of a subdivision with an accompanying golf course.

Schleman entered college at Northwestern University in 1920 and earned her A.B. in English literature and Philosophy in 1924. While at Northwestern, she was very involved in sports, the YWCA, student government, Mortar Board, and was the president of the Women's Athletic Association. On the advice of one of her professors, she attended Welleslay College where she earned an M.S. and a certificate in Hygiene and Physical Education (1928).

Schleman's first teaching appointment was at Ohio State University, from 1926-1932, in the Department of Physical Education for Women. Before coming to Purdue, she wrote her book Group Golf Instruction in 1933. Helen Schleman's long tenure at Purdue began in 1934, when she was hired as the Director of Residence Halls for Women and met her life-long friend Dorothy Stratton. She also earned a second Master's degree from Purdue ni Psychology and Education in 1934. In addition to her role in the residence halls, she served as the Director of the Housemothers Training School at Purdue. After the United States' entry into World War II, Schleman took a military leave of absence from Purdue to serve in the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard (SPARS), where she eventually acchieved the rank of Captain while serving with the Navy.

Schleman returned to Purdue in 1947, when she began her tenure as Dean of Women. As Dean of Women, she was able to provide support and mentorship for women students who had often been overlooked. Helen Schleman, acknowledged as an "unapologetic feminist" fought hard for the rights and opportunities of women students at Purdue. During her time as Dean, she was instrumental in terminating the curfew for women students, starting a freshman conference program for women, and fighting for equity in the university's hiring and salary practices. In her continued servive to women at Purdue, she established Span Plan, a program that provided scholarships and support to non-traditional women students in an effort to provide them opportunities for career advancement after their children entered school.

Over the years, Helen Schleman received many awards, including honorary doctorates from Purdue and Valaparaiso University. She was also very committed to professional and community service, particularly to organizations that served the interests of Women's Rights and Equality. She published many articles and books, and frequently gave speeches to local and national organizations on women's rights and education. Schleman Hall and the Schleman Award were both named in her honor. Schleman remained an active member in the West Lafayette community until her death in 1992.

Extent

10.4 Cubic Feet (Twenty four full-width letter size manuscript boxes, one half-width legal size manuscript box, one oversize flat box, one photo shoe box)

Overview

The Helen Schleman papers contain papers, clippings, speeches, and photographs documenting Helen Schleman’s life. The collection has particular emphases on her role as Purdue's Dean of Women and as an adovcate for women's rights.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into nine series:
  1. Biographical information
  2. Correspondence
  3. Speeches and written material
  4. Significant People
  5. Pamphlets and publications
  6. Other Purdue material
  7. Research files
  8. Photographs and Artifacts
  9. Professional service

Physical Access information

Originals of newspaper clippings are in fragile condition. Preservation copies have been made for researcher access.

Technical Access information

Videocassettes must be migrated to digital format before use. Contact Purdue University Archives and Special Collections if interested in using this material.

Custodial History

Materials in the collection were collected or created by Helen B. Schleman. Some portions of the collection were transferred from departments with which Schleman was affiliated, such as the Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies program and the Office of the Dean.

Later additions were comprised of materials collected by close friends and colleagues of Helen B. Schleman, or were given to them by Schleman and subsequently donated to the archives.

Addition 20181212 was transferred from Schleman Hall by Carol Houston. These materials were housed in an exhibit honoring Helen Schleman for several years, but their original source is undetermined.

Acquisition information

Collection was donated and transferred in several installments:
2006-04-11
Donation by Barb Cook and Sally Watlington (9 boxes)
2008-03-07
Donation by Sally Watlington (3 boxes)
2008-04-23
Donation by Betty Nelson and Sally Watlington
2017-03-21
Donation by Sally Watlington (2 small boxes)
2018-12-12
Transferred from Schleman Hall by Carol Houston (one oversize box)

Related Materials

MSF 366 Dorothy C. Stratton papers, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

UA 41 Dean of Women records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSP 307 Collection on Helen B Schleman, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

UA 63 Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSP 148 Mortar Board records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

MSO1i1011019_01_watlington Sally Watlington Interview, Purdue University Oral History Program Collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries: http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/oralhist/id/223/rec/2

MSO1i200506001 Barbara Cook Interview, Purdue University Oral History Program Collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries: http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/oralhist/id/15/rec/1

Separated Materials

In November 2019, some materials were separated from the collection. Most materials that were separated were found in Series 7, Research Files, in "Schleman File." It was determined that a number of the papers in these two folders were collected after Helen Schleman's death or had annotations which indicated they were from others' files and thus could not have been collected by Helen Schleman herself. These materials were processed into a new collection, MSP 307, Collection on Helen B. Schleman.

At this time, duplicate copies of Helen Schleman's curriculum vita were also removed from Series one. They will be used for instructional purposes.

Processing Information

The collection has had multiple additions since it was originally processed. Some of these additions were identified at the time of donation/transfer, while others were found within the contents of organizational records from groups with which Schleman was affiliated.

In October 2019, the collection was processed to facilitate the addition of materials that were identified within the Women Gender and Sexuality Studies records. Materials from the Schleman papers that were previously processed into a separate series by format (i.e. photographs, oversize, etc) were integrated into their relevant topical series. Two additions to the collection were also processed at this time and added to the collection record.
Title
Helen B. Schleman papers
Status
Completed
Author
Virginia Pleasant
Date
2019-10-02
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Edition statement
6th edition. Collection description was first completed by Jonathan McConnell 2012-04-20.

Revision Statements

  • 2013-04-18: While processing the Dean of Women Office Records papers, the archivist discovered two cubic feet of speech notes, dated from 1944 to 1988, belonging to Helen Schleman. This material has been organized by date into five manuscript boxes and added to Series 3 of the Helen Schleman papers.
  • 2013-06-25: Collection record was updated by Jonathan McConnell to reflect the addition of materials that were identified while processing the Mortar Board records. Schleman’s Coast Guard release documents were added to Box 1, Folder 3, and her Sigma Xi and Delta Kappa Gamma honor society certificates were added as Box 1, Folder 7. Several 3x5 color photographs of the Schleman Hall dedication ceremony were added to Series 8.
  • 2014-02-14: Collection record updated by Jonathan McConnell.
  • 2016-05-23: Collection record was updated by Virginia Pleasant to reflect the addition of Schleman's posthumously awarded Title IX Distinguished Service award.
  • 2019-10-02: Collection record was updated by Virginia Pleasant to reflect the addition of materials that were identified within the Women Gender and Sexuality Studies records. Materials that were previously processed into a separate series by format (i.e. photographs, oversize, etc) have been integrated with their relevant topical series. Two additions to the collection were also processed at this time and added to the collection record. Archive Space record was also edited to reflect current description standards at this time.
  • 2020-04-06: Collection description updated by Keertana Marella

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