Log In | Contact Us| View Cart (0)
Browse: Collections Digital Content Subjects Creators Record Groups

Amelia Earhart at Purdue papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description


Miscellaneous Papers


Contact us about this collection

Amelia Earhart at Purdue papers, 1935-2000 | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

By Emma C. Meyer

Printer-friendly Printer-friendly | Email Us Contact Us About This Collection

Collection Overview

Title: Amelia Earhart at Purdue papers, 1935-2000Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1935-1937

Primary Creator: Earhart, Amelia (1897-1937)

Extent: 1.0 Cubic feet. More info below.


The collection is organized into three series:

1. Correspondence, 1935-1941 (12 folders). This series is predominately composed of correspondence among Edward C. Elliott, George Palmer Putnam and Amelia Earhart.

2. Miscellaneous Papers, 1935-1969 (7 folders). Items include a questionnaire distributed to women students (circa 1935), a laundry receipt (circa 1935), speech by Amelia Earhart on “What a Pilot Eats” for Heinz Radio Program (1936), information about the programs, events, and activities scheduled with Earhart at Purdue (1935-1937), President’s Annual Reports and meeting minutes regarding Earhart at Purdue (1935-1937), tribute to Earhart given by President Edward C. Elliott (1937),and Purdue Press Releases related to Amelia Earhart (1935-1969).

3. Photographs, 1935-2000 (18 folders). Series three contains photographs of or related to Amelia Earhart, including images of Earhart at the Purdue Airport, with Purdue students, with Purdue President Edward C. Elliott, and photographs of Earhart with other miscellaneous individuals. This series also includes photographs of various items held in other collections and of homes in which Earhart lived.

Subjects: Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937, Elliott, Edward C. (Edward Charles), 1874-1960, Lilly, Josiah Kirby, 1861-1948, Purdue University--Faculty, Putnam, George Palmer, 1887-1950, Women's Archives at Purdue University, Women air pilots, Women college teachers--United States

Forms of Material: Correspondence, Ephemera, Photographic prints, Reports, Speeches

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Amelia Earhart at Purdue Collection (1935-2000; 1 cubic foot) documents Amelia Earhart’s arrival at Purdue University, her time there, and the efforts to memorialize Earhart after her disappearance. Types of materials include correspondence, ephemera, administrative reports, photographs, publicity materials, and speeches.

Biographical Note

On September 26-27, 1934, Purdue President Edward C. Elliott heard Amelia Earhart speak at a luncheon in New York on women’s careers and he was so impressed with her talk that he asked if she would visit Purdue and give a lecture for the women students. Earhart spoke at a banquet at Purdue on October 17, 1934, and discussed “Activities for Women After College.” After several talks with President Elliott, a contract was negotiated in 1935, stating that Amelia Earhart would be employed by Purdue as a visiting faculty member. From the autumn of 1935 until her disappearance in July 1937, Earhart served as Consultant in the Department for the Study of Careers for Women and Technical Advisor in the Department of Aeronautics for Purdue.

Earhart was attracted to Purdue because at the time it was the only university in the United States with its own fully equipped airport. She was also impressed that practical mechanical and engineering training was available without discouragement to the women students on campus. At Purdue, Amelia lectured, conducted conferences with Purdue faculty and students, and initiated studies on new career opportunities for women. Perhaps most importantly, she served as an example of a successful modern woman for the female students.

While working at Purdue, Amelia stayed in South Hall (now called Duhme Hall) on campus. South Hall students vied with each other to sit at Amelia’s table during meals. Buttermilk became an overnight favorite beverage on campus because it was Amelia’s choice.

Amelia’s husband, George Palmer Putnam, first planted the idea of a “flying laboratory” airplane for research into President Elliott’s mind. In the autumn of 1935, at a dinner party at Elliott’s home, Amelia outlined her dreams for women and aviation and spoke of her desire to conduct studies on how long-distance flying affected pilots. Before the evening was over, guest David Ross offered to donate $50,000 as a gift toward the cost of providing a machine suitable for the flying laboratory. Further donations totaling $30,000 in cash and equipment were received from J. K. Lilly, Vincent Bendix, and manufacturers Western Electric, Goodrich, and Goodyear. The $80,000 formed the basis of “The Amelia Earhart Fund for Aeronautical Research.” The fund’s primary objective was to enable the development of scientific and engineering data of vital importance to the aviation industry. The Earhart Fund financed Amelia’s “flying laboratory,” providing funds for a new Lockheed Electra airplane specially outfitted for long-distance flights. It was in this plane that Amelia disappeared during her world flight attempt in 1937.

In 1940, George Palmer Putnam donated Amelia Earhart’s papers, photographs, medals, flight jacket, and other belongings to Purdue University. In 2002, Putnam’s granddaughter, Sally Putnam Chapman, donated an additional group of Earhart personal papers to Purdue. These include personal letters, poems, and Amelia’s famous pre-marital agreement. Purdue University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections owns the largest, most comprehensive collection of materials in the world relating to Amelia Earhart.

Subject/Index Terms

Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937
Elliott, Edward C. (Edward Charles), 1874-1960
Lilly, Josiah Kirby, 1861-1948
Purdue University--Faculty
Putnam, George Palmer, 1887-1950
Women's Archives at Purdue University
Women air pilots
Women college teachers--United States

Administrative Information

Repository: Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Alternate Extent Statement: 3 boxes

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Related Materials:

George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart papers

Edward C. Elliott papers

Zelda Gould Collection of Amy Otis Earhart Correspondence

For more information please see http://www.lib.purdue.edu/spcol/fa/pdf/earhart.pdf; http://www.lib.purdue.edu/spcol/aearhart/; http://www.lib.purdue.edu/spcol/fa/pdf/elliott.pdf;.

Other URL: http://collections.lib.purdue.edu/fa/pdf/msf450_earhartatpurdue.pdf

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1935-1941],
[Series 2: Miscellaneous Papers, 1935-1969],
[Series 3: Photographs, 1935-2000],