Purdue University College of Liberal Art

Michael Smith and Tracy Grimm 

Associate Professor of History Michael Smith, who specializes in the history of aviation and space flight, teamed with Tracy Grimm, the Barron Hilton Archivist for Flight and Space Exploration in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center to offer an undergraduate archives research seminar on flight and space exploration last year. The class offered opportunities for several students to practice and publish archival research.

One research project in the class by history major Matthew Meyer resulted in the paper “Happy landings: The aviation life of Purdue University’s Ralph S. Johnson,” which will be published in the fall 2015 issues of Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research and The Purdue Historian (as “Ralph S. Johnson: A Pilot's Pilot”). Another research project by history major Katie Martin, “The Earhart Brand,” a study of aviation achievement and celebrity culture based on Amelia Earhart, is being prepared for submission to a cultural history journal. Martin presented her work at the Liberal Arts Honors Colloquium and the Undergraduate Research & Poster Symposium, where she placed second in the People’s Choice overall award. She also wrote about her experience in the research seminar in her essay “Course Reflection: The Technology and Culture of Flight,” which appears in Memoirs & Memories, the Purdue Archives blog.

Max Campbell, a history master’s student and graduate assistant in the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives, was also mentored by Smith and Grimm. This summer, Campbell is interning at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where he is working with the Apollo curator to help prepare “Destination Moon,” an upcoming exhibit.

One of the other results of the course, which will be offered again in fall 2015, was the initiation of a student-run online magazine titled “Flight Paths: Purdue University’s Aerospace Pioneers.” The magazine will allow students to explore the extensive materials in the archive, deepen experiential learning, and highlight student research.

Congratulations to Dr. Smith, Hilton Archivist Tracy Grimm, Matthew Meyer, Katie Martin, and Max Campbell for their work in documenting aerospace history, in which Purdue University has played an important role.

David's Signature

David A. Reingold
Justin S. Morrill Dean
College of Liberal Arts