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Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (AROTC) collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 55

Scope and Contents

The Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps collection documents the history of the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (AROTC) at Purdue University. The collection contains many photographs of the Purdue Army ROTC, focusing on the various commissioning classes and their activities. There are also valuable historical documents, military awards and trophies. Other types of materials include: books, clippings, correspondence, handbooks, manuals, printed material, programs, records and slides.


  • 1876 - 2001
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1970 - 1990


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research. Some items are stored offsite; 24 hours notice is required to access the collection.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University.

Historical Information

As a land grant university, Purdue has been required to teach military tactics since its founding. Purdue’s first Professor of Military Science and Tactics, Civil War veteran Dr. Harvard Wiley, was appointed in 1876. Despite offering classes on military tactics, Purdue didn’t have an organized military structure until 1888, when 1st Lieutenant Pickering was appointed by the Army as Professor of Military Science at Purdue. Under Pickering, the first Corps of Cadets was formed at Purdue, consisting of 76 infantrymen and 16 artillerymen. The Corps’ equipment at the time consisted of 100 Springfield rifles and 2 cannons.

Beginning in 1891, Purdue required all male underclassmen to undergo mandatory military training, as had been stipulated in the Land Grant College Act (Morrill Act). In 1902, Captain Ira Reeves was Professor of Military Science at Purdue, and began reorganizing the then 419-man Corps. His final structure included two battalions of infantry, one battery of artillery, a company of engineers, a signal corps detachment, a hospital corps detachment, and a 40-piece band. It was also around this time that the Purdue artillery became part of the Indiana Militia.

In June 1916, Battery B of the Indiana Field Artillery, which included the Purdue artillery battery, was called up for service in the Mexican Border War by president Woodrow Wilson. They were stationed in Llano Grande, Texas until September 28, 1916, when they were recalled to Indiana and left federal service.

In 1919, following standards set by the 1916 National Defense Act, Purdue reorganized its Corps of Cadets into a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) specializing in Field Artillery. The 1541 cadets that were part of the program at the time were reorganized into five artillery regiments and a 25-piece band.

By 1924, Purdue had 1214 cadets, twelve French 75mm cannons, and three 155mm howitzers. Enrollment peaked in 1941, when there were 2354 cadets at Purdue. Between World War One and World War Two, 1/8 of all Reserve Artillery officers were trained at Purdue ROTC.

From 1946 to 1949, Purdue ROTC added additional course offerings to Field Artillery, including Ordinance, Air Corps, Transportation, Engineering, Signal, and Chemical branches. The Air Corps program would later develop into Purdue’s Air Force ROTC program.

In 1966, enrollment in the Purdue ROTC became optional for underclassmen. Women were allowed to enroll in the ROTC beginning in 1973. Purdue won the MacArthur Award for best ROTC unit in the nation in 1989 and 1997.


24.50 Cubic Feet (13 cubic feet boxes, three flat boxes, two footlockers, five flat file drawers, and one oversized ledger)


The collection is organized into six series. Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.
  1. Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps Trophies
  2. Photo Binders, Annual Reports, Historical Information, Photographs, Slides and Miscellaneous Items
  3. Cassettes, Historical Film, Slides, Films, and Note Cards
  4. Ledgers (Grades), Scrapbooks, and Purdue Honor Guard History
  5. Programs, Handbooks, and Miscellaneous Material
  6. Artifacts

Physical Access Requirements

The oversized photographs are very cumbersome to handle, and many are in poor condition. Further handling of the photographs could cause damage. Consult Purdue University Archives and Special Collections if interested in using this material.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, where warranted, and acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes. The trophies have been wrapped in tissue or bubble-wrap and housed in acid-free boxes or a ROTC footlocker. Oversized photographs have been separated and grouped into individual series, and placed in acid-free, flat file folders for preservation purposes.
Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (AROTC) collection
In Progress
Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Third edition

Revision Statements

  • 09099999: Finding aid revised 10/9/2012 EW and 9/22/2016 MAS Collection identifier updated from UA 30.02 to UA 55 as of December 7, 2016.
  • 2020-03-20: Collection description updated to new standards by Mary A. Sego.
  • 2023-11-13: Added and linked Archive-It websites to finding aid - Ben Parnin
  • 2024-02-07: Historical Information note updated by William Niner

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States