Happy 150th Birthday, Purdue University

Purdue University is celebrating its 150th birthday with the release of a new history book.

Posted: May 6, 2019 6:53 AM
Updated: May 6, 2019 7:22 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue University is celebrating its official 150th birthday Monday with the release of a new history book. 

On May 6, 1869, the governor signed a bill creating the state's land grant college. If you ask Purdue historian John Norberg, he'll tell you the campus has grown since then, but the spirit of Purdue is the same now as it was then.


John Norberg. Author, "Ever True: 150 Years at Purdue University"

"Everything that has ever been done at this university still exists today," Norberg said.

In celebration of the university's "Founders' Day," he's compiled all the greatest stories over the past 150 years.

"What was it like to be a student here in the 1890s? What was it like to be a student here after World War II? What was it like to be a student here in the late 1960s? That was a very interesting time."

All of those are questions Norberg will answer in his new book: "Ever True: 150 years of Giant Leaps at Purdue University."

"Purdue history, putting it all into one book is like trying to fill a thimble full of water gushing out of a fire hydrant."

In the book, he debunks a few tall tales:

"The Chocolate Shop was never a speakeasy," Norberg listed off. "John Purdue really didn't intend for the university to be built in the town of Chauncey, he actually was going to put it in Battle Ground. Purdue had the first public medical school in Indianapolis and gave it to IU, basically. [Former Purdue President] Edward C. Elliott swore, literally, that he would not spend one penny on music at Purdue. He ended up spending 100 million pennies to build a hall of music."

Norberg wants people to know that the story, then and now, is all about Purdue people, and their "Giant Leaps."

"This university, everything it has ever done, has been accomplished by people just like them. What we are doing today is going to be looked back upon 150 years from now and I believe they will be just as proud of what we're doing as we are proud of what people did before us."

The book is one of many highlights celebrating Purdue’s Sesquicentennial, 150 Years of Giant Leaps. This yearlong celebration is highlighting Purdue’s history, while focusing on what giant leaps Purdue can take to address the world’s problems.

The 496 page book goes on sale Monday. The book is selling for $44.95. Click here to purchase.

Another book, "Purdue at 150: A Visual History of Student Life," was also released Monday. It contains some of the greatest pictures over the past 150 years. Click here to purchase

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