Purdue Bands celebrate 125 years with exhibit, book

September 21, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An archives exhibit and a book chronicling its history are part of the celebration for the 125th anniversary of the Purdue University Bands.

The "Heartbeat of the University: 125 Years of Purdue Bands" exhibit is on display in the Purdue Libraries' Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center through Dec. 22. The book, which goes by the same title as the exhibit, was published by Purdue University Press and will be released during the Oct. 22 homecoming weekend.

Purdue Bands launched its quasquicentennial (125th anniversary) celebration with an appearance by its "All-American" Marching Band last November in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Bands will continue the commemoration throughout this year.

Former band members are invited back for the Oct. 22 football homecoming game against Illinois to perform with the current "All-American" Marching Band and create the "World's Largest Block P" on the Ross-Ade Stadium field. Before the performance, alumni will practice with the band, enjoy a dinner at the Purdue Armory and reunite with fellow band members.

"It is a lot of fun to have these past band members back," said Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director. "Many generations come back to join in on this performance during our homecoming celebration."

The Purdue Libraries Division of Archives and Special Collections exhibit provides an opportunity to view rare historical documents, photographs and memorabilia. The exhibit includes collections dating back to the band's origins as a drum unit for the student army training corps to last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade appearance. The exhibit highlights legendary directors and icons, such as the "World's Largest Drum" and the "Golden Girl," along with the department's many highly respected concert, jazz and orchestral ensembles.

The Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center is located on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Science, and Education (HSSE) Library inside Stewart Center. The Karnes Center is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 765-494-2839 for group tours.

For more information, visit https://calendar.purdue.edu/Calendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=52669&information_id=106746&type=&rss=rss
     
The book, "Heartbeat of the University: 125 Years of Purdue Bands," is a collective history of the bands from its start in 1886, to present day. The book also highlights the lives of the organization's members and legendary directors, such as Paul Spotts Emrick and Al G. Wright; and some of the band's iconic features, such as the big drum and legendary twirlers; the Golden Girl; the Girl in Black; the Silver Twins; and the Goldusters.

The story includes the tragic Halloween day train collision that claimed the lives of 17 people in 1903, as well as groundbreaking successes through the years. For more information and to order the book, visit http://www.thepress.purdue.edu/titles/format/9781557535962

In addition to the 125th anniversary of Purdue Bands, this year also marks the 90th birthday of the Big Bass Drum, one of Purdue's many icons. In honor of this event, the "World's Largest Drum" has been on a five-stop tour to high school rivalry football games across the state. Fans are permitted to take pictures with the drum and ask questions of the drum's crew.

The "All-American" Marching Band is scheduled to perform in the 2013 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ireland. 

Writer:  Rebekah Piotrowicz, 765-496-3006, rpiotrow@purdue.edu

Sources:  Kathy Matter, 496-6785, kcmatter@purdue.edu
                   Elizabeth Wilkinson, processing and public services archivist, libraries, emwilkin@purdue.edu
                   Bryan Shaffer, production and marketing manager, Purdue University Press, bshaffer@purdue.edu

Related release:
'Rolling Strong' tour celebrates Big Bass Drum's 90th