Purdue treasure 'The Deans' Bible' to get home in university archives

June 14, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A hand-me-down that has spanned more than 100 years, eight deans and is a Purdue University tradition will soon be open book to the masses.

The Deans' Bible, passed from one Purdue women's dean to another over the course of generations, will become part of the university Libraries' Division of Archives and Special Collections. During a 4 p.m.invitation-only ceremony Monday (June 17), Danita Brown, Purdue's dean of students since 2011 and before that associate dean, who has accepted the dean's position at the University of Minnesota, will present the treasure. Sammie Morris, head of the Division of Archives and Special Collections, will accept it, and the artifact will become part of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Women's Archives. The presentation will take place in the Humanities, Social Science and Education Library's Periodicals Room.

"Purdue's history is blended with women who have made significant and changing impacts not only on this university but in the world," Morris said. "The Deans' Bible adds to an archival collection that pays tribute to these deans who were and are pioneers, role models and world-class educators."

The Deans' Bible is an actual Christian Bible that is traditionally passed from the outgoing dean of women/dean of students to that person's successor. It represents the legacy chain dating back to Carolyn Shoemaker, Purdue's first Dean of Women in 1913. The Deans' Bible has served as a symbol of the passing of the torch of leadership and as an artifact embodying the strong ties of mentoring and friendship shared between each of the deans, Morris said. The Deans' Bible includes a favorite Bible verse from each of its holders and often a letter of encouragement or inspiration to their successors.

Past carriers, in addition to Shoemaker and Brown, include former deans Dorothy C. Stratton, who became Purdue's first full-time dean of women in 1933; Helen B. Schleman; M. Beverley Stone, Purdue's first dean of students after the consolidation of the Office of the Dean of Men and Dean of Women in 1974; Barbara I. Cook; Betty Nelson; and Tony Hawkins.

It was Nelson, the Dean of Students from 1987-96 and a longtime supporter of Purdue Libraries and the Bulkeley Butler Women's Archives, who helped facilitate the addition of the Deans' Bible to the archives so that it lives in history.

Local author Angie Klink is writing a book, "The Deans' Bible," which profiles the women. The book will be published by Purdue University Press and advance sales are set to begin in August. The publish date is scheduled for the spring.

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Source: Sammie Morris, (765)494-2905, morris18@purdue.edu

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