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Collection on Helen B. Schleman

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 307

Content Description

This collection includes a collection of papers and artifacts that were collected during Helen Schleman's life and posthumously by individuals who were close to her, such as Dorothy Stratton and Betty Nelson. Some items were donated after they were removed from an exhibit on Schleman that was previously installed in Schleman Hall.


  • 1940 - 1992


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.


1.054 Cubic Feet (One newspaper box, one half-width letter size manuscript box)

Custodial History

Some materials in the collection have been separated from Addition 20181212. This addition was transferred from Schleman Hall by Carol Houston, and was originally an exhibit memorializing Helen Schleman. For the most part, it is unclear what the original source of the materials was, but it seems that these items were compiled by others in honor of Schleman, not by Schleman herself.

Papers in Box 1 of the collection were separated from the Helen B. Schleman papers. They were originally found in the series "Research Files," under "Schleman File." Upon further inspection, it was determined that many of these papers were compiled posthumously or by others. The papers that seemed likely to have been collected by Schleman herself were reprocessed into other parts of the Schleman papers.

Acquisition Information

Separated in November 2019 from Addition 20181212, which was transferred from Schleman Hall by Carol Houston on December 12, 2018.

Separated in November 2019 from MSF 334, Helen B. Schleman papers.

Condition Description

Items are in good condition.

Processing Information

Some of the papers were originally processed with the Helen B. Schleman papers. In October 2019, it was determined that papers which were collected by someone other than Schleman herself and should be in a self contained collection. These papers pertained to Helen Schleman's death or contained annotations which made it clear they came from the files of various friends of Schleman. It is anticipated that this collection will be added to in the future.

The plaque, framed dedication photograph, matted black and white photgraphs, and copy of Your Best Foot Forward were donated after they were removed from an exhibit honoring Helen Schleman in Schleman and Hall.
Collection on Helen B. Schleman
Virginia Pleasant
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
First edition

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States