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Samuel D. Conte papers

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: MSF 497

Scope and Contents

The Samuel D. Conte papers (1962-2002, 0.4 cubic feet) document Samuel D. Conte’s tenure as founding director of the Purdue University Department of Computer Sciences. Materials focus mostly on the years 1962-1979, with particular emphasis on Conte’s role in the development of the department at Purdue and its curriculum. The collection also documents Conte’s active membership in the America Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS), and his efforts to establish federal recognition of the need for computer science in education. Types of materials include: correspondence, grade books, memorandums, obituaries, reports, and rosters. The papers are organized by material type and topic.


  • 1962 - 2002
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1962 - 1979

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Access Information

Collection must be reviewed by an archivist before use.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyrights held by Purdue University.

Biographical Information

Samuel D. Conte was born on June 5, 1917 in Lackawanna, NY. Sam lived near Buffalo, NY throughout his childhood, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Buffalo State University in 1939. He stayed in town to work on his Master of Science degree in mathematics at the University of Buffalo, which he completed in 1943. With the onset on World War II, Conte joined the Army and served on the European front. After the war ended he stayed in Biarritz, France to teach mathematics to the G.I.’s who were waiting for transport home, and upon his return to the United States decided on a career in education. He began teaching at Wayne State University in 1946 while pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, which he completed in 1950. In 1956, Conte left Wayne State and moved to California for a job in the aerospace industry where he focused his mathematics skills on the relatively young field of computer science. It wasn’t until 1962, after then-Dean of the School of Science, Felix Haas approached him with a position, that Conte moved to Purdue as Head of the world’s first Computer Sciences Department. There he played a fundamental role in the development of computer science curricula and programs not only at Purdue, but nationwide, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Conte held that position until 1979 and officially retired in 1982 (though he continued to teach until 1993). By the end of his tenure as Department Head, Computer Sciences at Purdue had over 20 faculty and over 300 undergraduate majors, had granted over 50 Ph.D.s and 300 M.S. degrees, and was ranked in the top 10 programs in the United States. Throughout his career Conte received many awards and accolades—a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Air Force Academy in 1982; named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Governor Frank O-Bannon in 1997 (the highest civilian honor bestowed by Indiana’s Governor); a Distinguished Lectureship Series and Distinguished Professorship in Computer Science at Purdue bear his name—and his published work remained the field standard for nearly two decades. Samuel Conte passed away on July 1, 2002 in West Lafayette, IN. Source: Rice, John R. “Memorial Resolution: Samuel D. Conte, 1917-2002.” Folder 1, MSF 497, Samuel D. Conte papers, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Note written by Stephen Horrocks


0.40 Cubic Feet

1.00 mss._boxes


Correspondence, memos, reports, and other printed materials documenting Samuel D. Conte’s tenure as the founding director of the Purdue University Department of Computer Science.

Acquisition Information

Collection materials acquired through Records Transfer from the Computer Science Department 2015-04-12.

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.  All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Padded mailing envelopes have been photocopied for research purposes and the originals have been discarded. In most cases staples and metal paperclips have been removed and replaced with plastic paperclips for preservation purposes, except when removal would damage materials.
Samuel D. Conte papers
In Progress
Stephen Horrocks
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States