About the Project

The Purdue Historic Facilities and Buildings Database is a digital scholarship initiative to educate the Purdue community and the public about the historic grounds and structures of the Purdue University West Lafayette campus. Led by the Purdue University Libraries division of Archives and Special Collections, the initiative is the result of a multi-year collaborative endeavor across various units of the Libraries (GIS, Digital Programs, IT) as well partnerships with the University Development Office. This initiative was generously supported with funding from alumnus and Libraries professor emeritus, Richard Funkhouser.

The Database provides an opportunity to learn about and study the changes and growth of the campus over time. An interactive map can display a single year or a range of years, rendering a visualization of the campus at any given moment in time. The map is search-enabled and optimized to return results of the physical landscape of Purdue University, with coverage extending from Purdue’s first building to its most recent. A faceted list of all buildings and their histories is available for browsing or searching. Information on the purpose, construction, building materials, and donors for each building are included, when available.


The Database project began in 2013 following a monetary gift from Purdue University Professor Emeritus of Library Science Richard Funkhouser. Archives and Special Collections and the entire project team wish to express their appreciation to Professor Funkhouser. Without his support, this initiative would not have been possible.

The project team also wishes to thank Professor Emeritus of Library Science David M. Hovde, whose initial research into the history of campus buildings informed the project.

Database Team

The Building and Facilities Database was designed, researched, and built by an interdisciplinary group of specialists within Purdue University Libraries. Numerous undergraduate and graduate student assistants were valuable members of the project team. Participants are listed by department and role in the project.

Archives and Special Collections

  • Neal Harmeyer, Digital Archivist, Database Project Team Member and Project Facilitator
  • Meghan Diamond, Lead Graduate Assistant
  • Margaret Sheble, Lead Graduate Assistant
  • Jon Hathaway, Graduate Assistant
  • Erin Hamilton, Lead Undergraduate Assistant
  • Hallie Bonnicksen, Lead Undergraduate Assistant
  • Jake Smith, Undergraduate Assistant
  • Evalyn Stow, Undergraduate Assistant

Digital Programs

  • Cliff Harrison, Operations Manager, Database Project Team Member
  • Allen Bol, Library Assistant
  • Curtis Teter, Undergraduate Assistant

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

  • Nicole Kong, Associate Professor of Library Science, Database Project Team Member
  • Shirley Li, GIS Analyst, Database Project Team Member
  • Bertin Mbongo, GIS Analyst
  • Xia Chen, Graduate Assistant

Instruction and Digital Programs Services (Libraries IT)

  • Josh White, Web Applications Developer, Database Project Team Member
  • Matt Riehle, Web Applications Developer, Database Project Team Member
  • Aswin Siva Nagasubramanian, Graduate Assistant

University Development Office

  • Brenda Wallar, Senior Development Analyst

Project Parameters

Data regarding the history of the West Lafayette campus was gathered from a number of primary and secondary sources within Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. Images preserved within the Archives, when available, were added to the building record in order provide a visual image of the building’s place on campus. Digital Programs digitized a collection of historic campus maps housed in the Archives. Those digitized map files were then georeferenced by Libraries GIS specialists to digitally outline structural changes. This geographic data was used to create an interactive digital map of the campus. Concurrently, Instruction and Digital Programs Services worked with Archives and Special Collections to organize the information into a structured data set and connect to the GIS interactive map. A discoverable, accessible, and searchable online interface was then created.

Regarding Donor Information

The University Development Office (UDO) is partnering with the project team to provide donor information data for many buildings on campus. All data related to donors is maintained and managed by UDO. Information is being added or amended in the Database as it becomes available. In the event a building appears to have an erroneous or omitted entry, please contact UDO at stewardship@prf.org.

Maintenance and Sustainability

Information in the Database will be updated as needed. The interactive map will be updated on an annual basis as new map data becomes available.

Source Materials

The sources of all data entered into the Database are cited, so current and future scholars may utilize the supporting documents relating to Purdue buildings in their own research. Please note that all source materials are available for consultation in Archives and Special Collections (and in some cases copies are also available in other libraries). Due to discrepancies relating to building dates as listed across a variety of official Purdue texts, the project team has cited its sources while encouraging researchers to consult a variety of source materials available, when determining the date for a particular building. For example, some texts differ in terms of dates, depending upon whether the date signified initial approval or funding date, date of groundbreaking, date of finalized construction, and/or date of official building opening and/or occupation.

Further Research Opportunities

The mission of Purdue University Archives and Special Collections is to support the discovery, learning, and engagement goals of Purdue University by identifying, collecting, preserving, and making available for research records and papers of enduring value. To that end, the Database is designed to support continual learning and educational endeavors by students at Purdue University and beyond. The Archives is excited to work with faculty, students, and researchers of all types interested in using the data herein to add to the historic record through work in GIS, archival research, topic modeling, or other endeavors.

Please contact the Archives for more information.