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First Man hits theatres and a Purdue archive hits home

Neil Armstrong's famous moon landing is documented in the movie First Man.

Posted: Oct. 12, 2018 12:42 AM
Updated: Oct. 12, 2018 4:26 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Neil Armstrong's famous moon landing is documented in the movie First Man.

It premieres Thursday all around the country, but it may have special meaning here in Greater Lafayette.

Armstrong graduated from Purdue in 1955 and played a pivotal role in the space and engineering programs.

Purdue started an archive in 2008 in memory of the astronaut.

"He was very loyal Boilermaker who really loved Purdue and that's how we were lucky enough to have this collection," said head archivist Sammie Morris.

The collection includes photographs, homework assignments, report cards and the 1967 Rose Bowl championship football. It's just an overall impression of Armstrong's life.

"You don't really get to know that person until you look at their letters and their notebooks as their time as a student and you know you just get more of someone's sense of their personality that way," said Evans.

The bulk of the archive dates from 1960-2012

Armstrong actually donated his own memorabilia in 2008.

Then when he passed away in 2012 his widow Carol turned over the rest of the collection.

"We have over 400 boxes like this size box which is about half a foot, so the collection itself takes up over 300 linear feet," said Evans. "I would guesstimate that the number of documents is close to one million because I know we have 70,000 individual pieces of fan mail."

First Man is in theaters now, but it doesn't include any of Armstrong's life while at Purdue.

"Even without that being part of the film we all know how important Purdue was to Neil Armstrong because he continued to be engaged in it throughout his life," said Evans.

Anybody is welcome to see the collection. You have to give a 48 hours notice and come by the Stewart Center from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week.

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