The Founders Series publishes books on and about Purdue University, whether the physical campus, the University’s impact on the region and world, or the many visionaries who attended or worked at the University.
Richard Owen: Scotland 1810, Indiana 1890
Victor Lincoln Albjerg
Richard Dale Owen was born in 1810 in Scotland to a wealthy textile manufacturer and philanthropist. The youngest of eight children, Richard grew up at the family estate of Braxfield House, where he received his early education from private tutors. He would later go on to study chemistry, physics, and natural sciences, among other subjects, traveling between Scotland and Switzerland for his schooling.
Owen arrived in the United States in 1828 to teach in New Haven, Indiana, where his father was running an experimental utopian community of happiness, enlightenment, and prosperity. He would later go on to be Indiana’s second state geologist before enlisting in the army during both the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War. Colonel Owen took command of 4,000 Confederate prisoners at Camp Morton in Indianapolis, where he established new daily routines and rules for supervision of the prisoners. Under Owen’s command, prisoners were allowed to read books and form glee clubs, theatrical groups, and sports teams. He also created a camp bakery staffed by prisoners that proved to be a substantial cost savings, allowing for above-average rations for the prisoners under his watch.
After his military service came to an end, Owen continued to serve as a state geologist as well as becoming a professor at Indiana University, teaching chemistry, language, and natural philosophy. After failing to help secure IU as Indiana’s land-grant school, Owen was recruited to help establish Purdue University, west of Lafayette. The board of trustees selected him to serve as the University’s first president on August 13, 1872. However, Owen and the trustees disagreed on many early initiatives, including his focus on agriculture and push for more comfortable living arrangements for students.
After less than two years serving as president, where he never drew a salary, Owen resigned his position and returned to teaching at Indiana University, until hearing problems caused him to retire in 1879. He spent his remaining years in New Harmony, where he conducted research and published several scientific papers until his tragic death caused by an accidental poisoning at the hand of a local pharmacist.
Edward Charles Elliott, Educator
Frank K. Burrin
A study of the 50-year career of Edward Charles Elliott is a study of the development of American education. Elliott had experience as a high school and college teacher, school system superintendent, state college system chancellor, and president of a Big Ten university, all during a period of change in American attitudes toward public schooling and rapid growth in education institutions.
As president of Purdue University from 1922 to 1945, Elliott steered the school through years of expansion in size, prestige, and service. Student enrollment, staff, course offerings, buildings, and campus acreage more than doubled; the total value of the physical plant increased more than five-fold; and the schools of pharmacy, home economics, and graduate study were opened under Elliott’s leadership.
This book shows not only how Elliott helped make Purdue University what it is today, but documents educational trends from 1900 to 1950 and includes a lengthy bibliography of Elliott’s writings to assist the student of higher education.
The Dean: A Biography of A. A. Potter
Robert B. Eckles
More than 20,000 engineering students at Purdue University have been touched in some way by the ides or the warm personality of Andrey A. Potter, who served for 33 years as dean of the Schools of Engineering at Purdue, the world’s largest engineering institution.
Awarded the honorary title of “Dean of the Deans of Engineering Universities” in 1949 by his alma mater, MIT, Potter has been a teacher for 48 years and a dean for 40. Among his thousands of colleagues at Kansas State, Purdue, and the professional societies he has headed, he is known with respect and affection simply as “the Dean.”
This book, illustrated with photographs, traces his life from his boyhood in Russia and his journey at age 15 to America where, he contends, his life really began. We see him as a student cutting lab classes to attend an afternoon concert of the Boston Symphony, as a young man growing a van Dyke beard to make himself look older for his first job as an engineer with General Electric, and as a new assistant professor at Kansas State, courting his schoolteacher-sweetheart in a horse and buggy.
His contributions to the engineering profession are many. He was president of the leading professional societies, prepared an exhaustive state-of-the-art study of engineering, and enhanced the public service aspects of his field by participating in government advisory boards. Greatly admired for his work with the National Patent Planning Commission, where he protected the right of the inventor to the fruits of his ingenuity, he is also respected for his publications in his own area of research: power generation and super-critical steam. A selected bibliography lists his writings.
At Kansas State and Purdue, he organized curricula to emphasize study that could be used by engineers to solve problems in agriculture and industry; this brought farmers and businessmen closer to the campus and more aware of the university’s service to their state. He found deepest pleasure, however, not in these accomplishments, but in the personal contacts he established with students and colleagues. In his own words, “the secret of success is to love one’s fellow men.”
My Amiable Uncle: Recollections about Booth Tarkington
Susanah University Mayberry
He was twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction: in 1919 for The Magnificent Ambersons and in 1922 for Alice Adams. His play, Clarence, launched Alfred Lunt on his distinguished career and provided Helen Hays with an early successful role. His Penrod books continued the American boy story tradition that started with the works of Mark Twain. In the early 1900s, through his novel The Turmoil, he warned of sacrificing the environment to industrial growth. Yet, since his death in 1946, Booth Tarkington—this writer from the Midwest who accomplished so much—has faded from the memory of the reading public, and many of his works are out of print.
But his memory is fresh and vivid in the mind of his grandniece Susanah Mayberry, and her recollections of him leap from the pages. She recalls that as a small child, before she was aware of her uncle’s fame as a writer, he emerged as the one figure whose outline was clear among the blur of forms that made up her large family.
The author of My Amiable Uncle draws primarily upon personal experiences, family lore, and letters (some never before published) to portray her uncle. She tells of the pleasure it gave him to entertain his young nephews and nieces at his Tudor-style winter home in Indianapolis—where they played a spirited form of charades. She recalls vacations, as a college student, spent at his light-filled summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine—where she met his famous neighbors. During all of those times, Uncle Booth was a keen observer of youth. He created Penrod and friends from his observations, and as a teacher of youth, transmitted his own love of art to his young relations.
The book will appeal to the general reader and the scholar. The former will be charmed by the reminiscences, and the latter will be interested in the new information about this writer of distinction. All readers will appreciate the substantial introduction to the volume by James Woodress, who places Tarkington within his literary milieu while reviewing his major works.
Indiana residents will feel “at home” with the frequent references to the state and its people. Indianapolis influenced Tarkington and his work—the city was his birthplace. He spent a year at Purdue University where he met such “brilliancies” as George Ade and John McCutcheon. Other famous and not-so-famous Hoosiers became a part of Tarkington’s life, and they—along with international literary, theatrical, and political luminaries—reappear in Mayberry’s recollections of her amiable uncle.
Force for Change: The Class of 1950
John University Norberg
The Class of 1950 was like none other—none other before and none since. In the fall of 1946, class members came from the cornfields of the Midwest; from the battlefields of France, Italy, and Germany; and from the jungles of the Pacific islands.They came in great numbers to university campuses throughout the United States.
Some of them were grown men—twenty- and thirty-year-olds going to college on the GI Bill that guaranteed money to educate World War II veterans.
Some of them were boys—eighteen-year-olds straight out of high school, competing in the classroom and on the playing fields with war-hardened men who were in a hurry to get on with life. These eighteen-year-olds were unaware that within weeks of their graduation, a war in Korea would beckon them.
Young women came to campus, although in much smaller numbers than the men. Most majored in home economics. Some were looking for their “Mrs.” degree. Many worked after graduation, but only until their children were born. By the 1960s, they would return to the workplace, beginning a social movement that is still evolving today.
Only a handful of African Americans came to campuses of major universities. In 1946, they found segregation and racial stereotyping, even after they had fought a war for the freedom of others. In the following years while the world was changing rapidly, civil rights moved slowly.
This mixture of students blended on the U.S. campuses in the late 1940s and exploded into the world in 1950.
These graduates transformed technologies developed during World War II into peacetime uses. They ushered into society everything from computers to home air-conditioning to interstate highways to the space age. They created the postwar economic boom, suburbia, and the Baby Boom. They became a force for change.
A Force for Change: The Class of 1950 looks at the group of students who made up this sweeping national movement: the Purdue University Class of 1950.
Members of the class tell their stories in their own words. They tell of childhood years during the Great Depression, young adult years during war, idyllic years spent at college, and years of wide-open opportunities for a generation of people who believed nothing could stop them.
The Hovde Years: A Biography of Frederick L. Hovde
Robert W. Topping
This biography details Hovde’s life and times from his birth at Erie, Pennsylvania, through his boyhood at Devils Lake, North Dakota, and includes his student days at the University of Minnesota and in England and Europe as a Rhodes scholar. In addition, it outlines his career from the time he returned to the United States from England in 1932, as well as when he went back again in 1941 as the United States secretary for American-British scientific research and development exchange efforts. Principally, it covers his twenty-five years as president of Purdue University, his impact on higher education generally, and his retirement in 1971.
The book depicts Hovde the president and Hovde the man. It focuses on the growth of Purdue University from the post-World War II years through the tumultuous times of the late 1960s and Hovde’s own comments on those periods.
Little Else Than a Memory: Purdue Students Search for the Class of 1904
Through their individual studies, the authors of the biographies inside this book were led in interesting and very different directions. From a double-name conundrum to intimate connections with their subjects’ kin, their archival research was rife with unexpected twists and turns. Although many differences between modern-day university culture and the campus of 1904 emerge, the similarities were far more profound. Surprising diversity existed even at the dawn of the twentieth century. Students intimately tracked the lives of African Americans, women, farm kids, immigrants, international students, and inner-city teens, all with one thing in common—a Purdue education. This study of Purdue University’s 1904 campus culture and student body gives an insightful look into what the early twentieth-century atmosphere was really like—and it might not be exactly what you’d think.
Completely produced by students in the Purdue University Honors College, this book contains ten essays by undergraduate students of today about their forebears in the class of 1904. Two Purdue faculty members have provided a contextualizing introduction and reflective epilogue. Not only are the biographical essays written by students, but the editing, typesetting, and design of this book were also the work of Purdue freshmen and sophomores, participants in an honors course in publishing who were supervised by the staff of Purdue University Press.
Ross–Ade: Their Purdue Stories, Stadium, and Legacies
Robert C. Kriebel
David Ross (1871–1943) and George Ade (1866–1944) were trustees, distinguished alumni and benefactors of Purdue University. Their friendship began in 1922 and led to their giving land and money for the 1924 construction of Ross-Ade Stadium, now a 70,000 seat athletic landmark on the West Lafayette campus. Their life stories date to 1883 Purdue and involve their separate student experiences and eventual fame. Their lives crossed paths with U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, and Will Rogers among others. Gifts or ideas from Ross or Ade lead to creation of the Purdue Research Foundation, Purdue Airport, Ross Hills Park, and Ross Engineering Camp. They helped Purdue Theater, the Harlequin Club and more. Ade, renowned author and playwright, did butt heads with Purdue administrators at times long ago, but remains a revered figure. Ross's ingenious mechanical inventions of gears still steer millions of motorized vehicles, boats, tractors, even golf carts the world over.
The Queen of American Agriculture: A Biography of Virginia Claypool Meredith
Frederick Whitford, Andrew G. Martin, and Phyllis Mattheis
Virginia Claypool Meredith's role in directly managing the affairs of a large and prosperous farm in east-central Indiana opened doors that were often closed to women in late nineteenth century America. Her status allowed her to campaign for the education of women, in general, and rural women, in particular. While striving to change society's expectations for women, she also gave voice to the important role of women in the home. A lifetime of dedication made Virginia Meredith "the most remarkable woman in Indiana" and the "Queen of American Agriculture." Meredith was also an integral part of the history of Purdue University. She was the first woman appointed to serve on the university's board of trustees, had a residence hall named in her honor, and worked with her adopted daughter, Mary L. Matthews, in creating the School of Home Economics, the predecessor of today's College of Consumer and Family Sciences.
The Midas of the Wabash: A Biography of John Purdue
Robert C. Kriebel
A biography of noted businessman John Purdue (1802-1876), whose donations of time and money led to the founding of Indiana's land grant university-Purdue University-in 1869. Purdue also contributed to economically important bridge, railroad, and cemetery construction, the existence of Lafayette Savings Bank and the Battle Ground Collegiate Institute, cattle farming, Lafayette's public school system, and countless other worthy enterprises. To date there has been no published full length study of Mr. Purdue's life and work beyond casual street-talk that portrayed Purdue as a difficult individual with whom to work. This biography incorporates research efforts by previous writers with facts gleaned from newspaper coverage, official documents, and a few rare samples of Mr. Purdue's letters. In this way, a complete picture of the man and myth is generated.
Letters of George Ade
Terence University Tobin
George Ade, one of the most beloved writers of his day, carried on a lively correspondence with the most colorful of great and near-great. George M. Cohan, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, John T. McCutcheon, James Whitcomb Riley, Finley Peter Dunne, Hamlin Garland all received letters from the Hoosier humorist. Ade’s keen observation, compact and straight-forward style, and understated humor mark his correspondence as well as his immensely popular newspaper columns, books, and plays. As Paul Fatout writes in his foreword: “The charm of George Ade lies in his good-natured contemplation of our species, which delineates, not with malice or with condescension, but with the gusty enjoyment of a spectator entertained by a continuous variety show.”
Ade traveled the world over many times, but always returned to the home he never really left—Indiana. His companions and correspondents included presidents, senators, Hollywood moguls, and Broadway stars, but his first allegiance was to the farmlands and small towns of mid-America. From Hazelden Farm, near Brook, he kept in close touch with politicians from the precincts to the governor’s mansion. He wrote to educators, editors, and executives, and took an active part in the life and growth of his alma mater, Purdue University. Characteristically, the man who succeeded as a writer by setting down familiar situations sent some of his most interesting letters to ordinary citizens all over the state.
Ade’s friendships were so diversified that his correspondence forms a patchwork of popular history, literature, politics, and entertainment. His interchange of ideas about people and events shaping the twentieth century as well as his own life will provide insights for students of varied aspects of American culture.
This volume presents 182 of the most interesting and informative letters from the thousands of extant pieces of his correspondence in scores of collections scattered throughout the United States. The letters are arranged chronologically annotated with explanatory material and with sources. A foreword, introduction and Ade’s biography are included. Photographs, sketches, handwriting samples, and other illustrations which evoke the man and his times are interspersed with the text.