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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Purdue University oral history program collection

Repository: Purdue University Libraries. Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center

Collection Description (CRHP): Only a few of the 240 interviews specifically addressed civil rights issues. They include:
James Peters interview: Born in Ashdown, Arkansas in 1917, Peters discusses growing up in Monroe, Louisiana, receiving a BS from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a MA at Hartford Seminary Foundation School of Religious Education in Hartford, Connecticut. He served as a Specialist Teacher/Psychologist at the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois during WWII. The Recipient of a Fellowship from Purdue, he came in 1953 and received a PhD in 1955. Peters describes campus life as an African American graduate student during those years. Peters was accompanied at Purdue by his wife, who earned a second masters degree, and their children. He taught at several institutions such as Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. He served for 25 years as State Director of Vocation of Rehabilitation for Connecticut and Associate Commissioner of Federation. A practicing and licensed psychologist, he is active in his profession and a prolific writer. Among his many honors are 1st Inductee Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame and he was chosen to represent Connecticut at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. He is the co-founder of the Black Navy Veterans World War II.

Marion Blalock interview: Blalock grew up in East Chicago, IN and was raised by an extended family of grandparents and uncle. High school summers were spent in Mississippi working on a farm. She came to Purdue as a student in 1965. She provides a description of campus life as one of the few African American females on campus at that time. She was one of the founding members of the Purdue chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. After her marriage, she left Purdue with her husband and worked in Detroit, Michigan. Returning to Purdue, she enrolled in the graduate program in the Department of Education. Upon completion of the program Blalock became the first full time woman that worked in the Dean of Men's office. She discusses her role as the First Director of Minority Engineering at Purdue, which became a model for similar programs on campus and at other universities. Her participation with the program involved recruitment of participants, external funding and campus programs such as Minority Introduction to Engineering (MITE). She also comments on the start of the Black Alumni Association and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Collection Description (Extant): The program was launched in the summer of 2006 by the Dean of Libraries, James Mullins. Prior to that time oral history interviews had not been conducted under the auspices of the Purdue University Libraries. During the 1970's oral history intrviews were conducted through the Office of Publications and the recordings and transcripts were turned over to the Archives and Special Collections for preservation and to allow access to researchers and the general public.

The current program captures reminiscences by individuals who have been associated with the University and its growth, changes and history. These interviews will aid in enriching our understanding of the history of Purdue University by retaining oral evidence of past decisions, events, accomplishments, programs and the general growth of the University through first-hand accounts by key individuals who participated in or actively observed the evolution of the University.

Access Copy Note: Transcripts and audio files of the James Peters and Marion Blalock interviews are available online at

Collection URL: External Link

Date(s): 2007-2008

Digital Status: Born-digital

Existing IDs: POH0708072, POH0607036

Extent: 3 audio files, digital, wav, mp3 (2 hrs)

Language: English

Interviewees: James Peters, Marion Blalock

Rights (Extant): Copyright Purdue University. All rights reserved.


African American veterans
African Americans--Indiana
African Americans--Louisiana
College integration
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
National Society of Black Engineers (U.S.)
United States--Armed Forces--African Americans
Women--Societies and clubs


Sound recordings


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   September 26, 2018
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