Purdue Reamer Club | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
The history of the Purdue Reamer Club before 1922 is uncertain. There are only stories, rumors at best, which tell when the order was initially formed. In the early part of the 20th century, University housing for male students was at a premium. Purdue Hall, built to house those lucky few who were nominated by their home counties to go to Purdue tuition free, was unavailable to the regular students. Ladies Hall, built in 1874, was only for the few women students enrolled at that time. The men had only two other choices for housing; join a fraternity or live off campus.
Since the Greeks were more organized, and they knew more people, they easily controlled the extracurricular activities. They were also the major leaders in larger activities, such as the Debris, the Exponent, Prom, and the Military Ball. Even though the student body decided these offices, the independents offered only token resistance. In the spring of 1922, it became apparent that the Greeks were becoming divided among themselves. C.C. Reeder, an independent student, saw the potential to get non-Greeks elected, due to the Greek division. He formed a group of off campus students, known as "The Unorganized Student Association." This was an attempt to further divide the Greeks, so as to elect independents, but the group was short-lived. Reeder returned in the fall with a new approach to the same idea, and the Purdue Independent Association (PIA) was formed. The Purdue Independent Association fared better than its ancestor, remaining active until the mid-1950s. In time the Purdue Independent Association became more and more active, and the members' interest became more diversified in the quest to find new ways to help their fellow students and help the University. The Greeks had formed the Gimlets club to increase the school spirit among fraternity men. In September of 1922, a group of sports-minded individuals met to consider the possibility of furthering the interest of non-fraternity men in both varsity and intramural sports. They concluded that an organization similar to the Gimlets would be best. The group's first constitution called for the formation of the Reamer Club. The name, Reamer, was selected because the PIA felt the "Reamers would smooth out the holes the Gimlets made." In other words, they would finish the tasks that the Gimlets undertook.
After much deliberation by the Dean of Men, the constitution of the club was finally approved in October of 1923, thus establishing the Purdue Reamer Club. The group was to obtain "the good will and cooperation of all groups." Because of the relative inactivity of the club, the Reamers were looking for a reason for their existence as an outstanding group of men, instead of "just another honorary society." A new constitution was adopted on June 2, 1926. The club carried on various spirit raising activities on campus from that point on.
The club was still carrying on its good work in the years from 1932-1937, and it was during these years that the Reamer club started on one of its most outstanding pieces of work for the promulgation of Purdue traditions. In November of 1937, a sophomore pharmacy student, Israel Selkowitz, had an idea. He suggested that Purdue have an official mascot, something symbolic of a school rich in engineering heritage. This idea was developed and carried on until the culmination of efforts took place on September 11, 1940, when the Boilermaker Special I was presented to the university. The Purdue Reamer Club was appointed caretakers of the mascot at that time, and is still carrying out these duties.
For more information on the club, see: http://www.purduereamerclub.org/reamerhistory