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Charles M. Ehresman papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 490

Scope and Contents

The Charles M. Ehresman papers document the work and professional activities of Charles M. Ehresman, designer of Purdue University's High Pressure Rocket Laboratory, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, and operations manager of Purdue's Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center (known today as Zucrow Laboratories). The collection also documents the design and construction of the High Pressure Rocket Laboratory and its early administration and operations, as well as materials pertaining to Maurice J. Zucrow, professor of Gas Turbines and Jet Propulsion in the Schools of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering and pioneer of rocket propulsion testing and development at Purdue University. 

Materials in the collection largely relate to the early years of the Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center (TSPC), Ehresman's research and publications in the 1990s and 2000s, his teaching and advising activities between the 1960s and 1990s, and his involvement in AIAA activities, from presenting scholarship at the organization's conferences to serving on the AIAA's Historic Site Committee. 

Other materials of particular interest include Ehresman's research on water ingestion systems and waterspouts, as well as his efforts to organize historical information for the Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center's 50th Anniversary (1999) and collected research for the Zucrow Labs history webpage. 

Types of materials in the collection include: books, correspondence, conference and research papers and presentations, multimedia materials, proposals and reports, research and teaching materials, and subject files.


  • 1897 - 2011
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1960 - 1972
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1997 - 2009


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research. Materials pertaining to student grades and other student privacy-sensitive material are restricted because of reasons of confidentiality. 

The collection is stored off-site. At least 24 hours notice is required.

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

Charles M. "Chuck" Ehresman was born on May 23, 1922, in Elkhart, Indiana. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1949 and a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue in 1951.

Between 1951 and 1964, Ehresman was employed in California with the Aerojet-General Engineering Corporation, working on liquid assist takeoff rockets for the Boeing B-47, F-84F, and F-84G, as well as liquid propellant boosters for the Bomarc and Titan I and II missiles and Atlas/Able, Delta II, Saturn V, and Nerva Nuclear rockets. While at Aerojet, Ehresman served as test engineer, group leader, research department head, research and development supervisor, and test operations manager.

In 1964, Ehresman returned to Purdue to oversee the design and construction of the University's High Pressure Rocket Laboratory at the Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center (today's Zucrow Laboratories), later serving as its operations manager (1977-1981). He was promoted from visiting professor to associate professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1966 and in 1992, was awarded the academic rank of emeritus professor. Ehresman taught several courses related to system design, analysis of dynamic systems, control systems, and rocket propulsion for spaceflight, including Modeling and Analysis of Physical Systems (ME 375), Modeling and Instrumentation of Physical Systems (ME 385), Propulsion for Space Flight (ME 439), Automatic Control Systems (ME 475), and Liquid Rocket Propulsion Systems (ME 579E), and served on various School of Mechanical Engineering committees. His interests and work activities in instrumentation and application, facility design and system interaction, rocket propulsion, and water and hail ingestion in air breathing engines produced several dozen professional presentations and lectures and article-length publications, including many papers presented at American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conferences between the 1980s and 2000s.

Ehresman also performed consultant work for the U.S. Research Office (Durham, NC, 1969), General Medical Instrument Division (El Monte, CA, 1970), Design & Manufacturing Company (Connersville, IN, 1971), Roper Corporation (West Lafayette, IN, 1975), and Zion Nuclear Power Station (Chicago, IL, 1980), and was a member of various academic, professional, and scholarly societies, including the AIAA, the Sigma Xi scientific research society, and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

Professor Ehresman died in August 2012 at the age of 90.


44.868 Cubic Feet (33 cubic feet boxes, 23 letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, five CD boxes, two letter-size half-width manuscript boxes, and two flat boxes)


The papers have been arranged into eight series.

Items in the series are arranged chronologically by subject and material type. Whenever possible, the original order of subject files was retained.
  1. Research and Writings
  2. Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center (Zucrow Labs) Administration
  3. Teaching and Advising
  4. Correspondence
  5. Memberships and Associations
  6. Maurice J. Zucrow Materials
  7. Ehresman Miscellaneous

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Alecia A. Wiltgen, May 1, 2013 and July 6, 2013.

Processing Information

All materials in this collection are housed in acid-free boxes.  Whenever possible, the original order of subject files was retained with overfilled folders divided into smaller sub-folders.  Much of the material in the collection was found loose, without folders or other types of organization seen in Ehresman's papers. Loose items, when feasible, were placed in acid-free folders (marked "Loose Material" in the inventory) and arranged by subject with other materials in the collection. 
Charles M. Ehresman papers
Under Review
John Michael Foster and Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Fourth edition. Collection description first completed 2014-05-02.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States