Purdue students archiving Tippecanoe Co. history

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- Purdue communications student Xinyi Huang is from China, but as she wraps up her time at the university, she is focusing on Tippecanoe County history. Huang and her fellow Fast Track members are collecting interviews from people who have lived in the county for several decades to create a historical video archive.

“It’s an educational resource for people in the next generation to know about our history,” Huang said.

Fast Track is a weekly, student-produced news broadcast. Huang said members met to think of final projects ideas, and were able to receive a grant to support the project from Purdue’s Office of Engagement.

Once the interviews are complete they will be put online and shared with the Tippecanoe County Public Library and West Lafayette Public Library.

“We can share the resources with the public, and have more people get familiar with the history,” Huang said.

Diane Carlson was born in Lafayette, and has lived here all her life minus about two years. Purdue professor Tom Turpin has lived in the county for 45 years. Both helped the students with the project.

“Lafayette has changed tremendously,” Carlson said. “The east side of town out [State Road] 26 was gravel road. I live off of Creasy [Lane], and that was gravel road.”

“I was amazed when I first got here that there were trains that went right through the middle of town,” Turpin said. “Well eventually there was a railroad relocation project. Now you can drive across town and never have to stop for a train.”

After decades in town, Carlson and Turpin did not think they would still be here, but are happy they stayed put.

Carlson stayed for her daughters.

“[I] always thought if they left Lafayette when they grew up we would go somewhere else at least for warmer weather in the winter,” Carlson said. “However, they both stayed in Lafayette.”

Trupin said Purdue University kept him around.

“When we first arrived here at Purdue we had a session for all the new faculty here, and most of them would say ‘I didn’t really want to move to the Midwest or Lafayette, and we’re going to leave as soon as we get a chance,’” Turpin said. “I go to meetings nowadays and a number of those people are still here.”

No matter whats brings people to Tippecanoe County, or what makes them stay, they can always have access to its history thanks to a group of students. For more on the archive click here.

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