Astronauts’ Archives Coming to Purdue

Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, the most recent person to walk on the moon, will soon leave another footprint alongside fellow space explorer Neil Armstrong, this time in Purdue University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections.

Cernan’s papers will join a growing list of historically significant collections in Purdue Libraries’ flight archives. Armstrong, a 1955 Purdue graduate and the first person to walk on the moon, donated personal papers in November. Cernan announced his gift in January.

The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, the world’s largest compilation of papers, memorabilia, and artifacts related to the late aviator, also reside in the archives. Earhart, the first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean, set world aviation records and worked as a Purdue staff member in the mid-1930s. She disappeared July 2, 1937, over the Pacific Ocean as she attempted to fly around the world.

Purdue Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections also houses the papers of Ralph Johnson, a 1930 Purdue graduate in mechanical engineering and a flight pioneer who was the first person to document aircraft landing procedures that are still used today.

Cernan (BSEE ’56) carried out three space flights. As a pilot aboard Gemini IX in 1966, he became the second person to walk in space. He was a lunar module pilot for the Apollo X mission in 1969. As commander of Apollo XVII in 1972, he became the most recent person to walk on the moon’s surface.

“Our expanding flight archives now include some of the key individuals and events in flight history,” says James L. Mullins, dean of Purdue Libraries. “These archives also show Purdue’s significance in the advancement of flight. We have had 22 Purdue graduates who have gone on to be astronauts, and we want to build our flight archives to reflect the university’s rich history and contribution to air travel and space flight.”

-L.T.T. with Jim Bush