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The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center




About the Archives


About the Karnes Center Facility



The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, a $2.7 million, 15,000-square-foot facility on the fourth floor of Stewart Center, opened to the public on January 12, 2009. The Karnes Center brings together, for the first time, Purdue’s special collections and archives into one centralized, state-of-the-art facility. The space features an entry hall/exhibit space, a researcher reading room with permanent displays, an instruction center, a processing center for receiving new materials, and offices for staff and faculty members.

ASC entrance image
Front Entrance

Virginia Kelly Karnes, a 1935 home economics alumna of Purdue, made the leadership gift for the new space in 2006. This continued her history of giving to the university, with the Class of 1935 50th reunion class gift, the Library Scholars grant program, the President's Fund, the Purdue Alumni Association, Purdue athletics, and the Center for Families also benefitting from her generosity.

While at Purdue, Virginia Kelly belonged to the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, edited the Debris yearbook, and participated in women's journalism and sports clubs. She graduated the same year that Purdue hired Amelia Earhart as a women's career counselor, part of the university's effort to recruit more women. Karnes also served as the first chairwoman of the President's Council at Purdue.

The facility serves as a repository for the Libraries' rare collections that will make materials more readily accessible to visitors and scholars. The archives are equipped with security, fire suppression and climate control systems to protect collections that include the papers and effects of such Purdue-affiliated luminaries as humorist George Ade, cartoonist John T. McCutcheon, Nobel Prize winning chemist Herbert C. Brown, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, and aviator Amelia Earhart. Previously these items and tens of thousands of other books and artifacts were distributed throughout seven buildings on campus.

ASC reading room
ASC Reading Room

Located on the 4th floor of Stewart Center, entrance to the Karnes Center is through the Humanities, Education and Social Sciences Library on the main floor of Stewart Center, by taking the elevator in that library to the 4th floor.

Exhibit area

Swaim conference center
Swaim conference center


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