DePauw digital library provides window into community's past

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Photos, such as this one of the old Double Decker on Locust Street, can be found in the new digital library launched by DePauw University Libraries. The searchable database includes photographs, publications and other artifacts spanning the history of DePauw, Putnam County and Indiana United Methodism. Visit the collection at

GREENCASTLE -- Wonder what a gym top circa 1927 looked like?

Want to see a photo of the DePauw University 1914 freshman class?

Now, it can happen with the click of a mouse.

DePauw University's library has launched a digital library, which currently contains more than 30,000 photographs, publications and other artifacts spanning the history of the university, Putnam County and Indiana United Methodism.

With the growing collection of objects from DePauw University archives, university galleries and museums and student publications, the DePauw Digital Library (DDL) makes a wealth of material instantly accessible to anyone both near and far.

"We want people to discover our resource," said Wesley Wilson, coordinator of archives and special collections at DePauw. "Explore it. Spend time searching it."

The searchable database, which took two years to build, includes all issues of The DePauw dating back to 1932 and photographs from DePauw's archives and the late Greencastle photographer Ralph Taylor.

One of the driving forces behind the creation of a digital library was the donation of more than 500,000 negatives of Taylor's pictures, Wilson noted.

Taylor was a DePauw alumnus who was also a local photographer for more than 30 years. His collection contains photographs of seniors from all local high schools, weddings, the community and the university.

The site, which was built by the Digital Library Planning Group, will continually be updated. It is considered a supplement to the libraries and archives.

"It is another way for people to learn about DePauw's history, traditions and art collections," said Rick Provine, director of libraries.

The late Worth Tippy, a DePauw graduate and Methodist minister, started the archives collection in 1951, while in his 80s. Since the university was founded in the Methodist faith, Tippy used the archives as a way to tie the two together.

Anyone searching the DDL can download pictures or order them online or by visiting the Roy O. West Library, 400 S. College Ave.

"It is possible to download the photos," said Wilson. "But for the highest quality, people should contact us for copies."

Some pictures are currently missing information. Anyone who can provide the information is encouraged to e-mail

The Digital Library Planning Group is available for presentations to clubs, organizations or schools. To schedule a presentation, e-mail the above address.

Visit the collection at

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  • Thank you DePauw for making yet another great resource available to our community! I can't wait to spend some time hunting for treasures in the new Digital Library.... especially in the Ralph Taylor collection.

    -- Posted by Maeve04 on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 8:43 AM
  • Thanks to the DePauw Archives and Wes Wilson for thousands of hours of work to catalog my father's negatives from over 30 years as a local photographer. He felt honored to be asked to participate in hundreds of weddings, and enjoyed thousands of public, company, civic and university events, and getting to photograph tens of thousands of people in the area, and watch them as they grew older. He loved getting to know people and I think his work shows great affection and respect for his subjects. It is a wonderful record of the people and life in Putnam County and we look forward to seeing the images of those years.

    -- Posted by LPTaylor on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 9:19 PM
  • Wonderful job DePauw. I know there is a lot of local and university history but it is very difficult to find. This is a great source and so appreciated. Thank you again DePauw.

    -- Posted by Nit on Fri, Nov 6, 2009, at 8:09 AM
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