Voices, Identities, & Silences: Investigating 150 Years of Diversity in the Purdue Archives

International Students in the 1900s

The Cosmopolitan Club was organized in the Fall of 1907 at Purdue University. It focused on bringing together students from around the world to have a better understanding among each other. First year members were from the United States, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Spain. By 1938 the club’s motto was “above all Nations is Humanity.” In 1945 the club was replaced by the International Association of Purdue University with a revised constitution [1].

Montage portrait of The Cosmopolitan Club leadership, Purdue Chapter, 1907

The 1908 Debris includes a club portrait and short biographies of the graduating seniors. I created a montage portrait of the 1908 Cosmopolitan Club President, Vice-President, Board of Directors Chairman, and Executive Committee Chairman. All were graduating seniors in 1908. I used Adobe Photoshop to composite image and description layers into one file.

  • Jose Rivera, B.S. Agriculture (1907 President) – Pagsanhan, Philippines
    • “’Jo’ distinguished himself by organizing a real wide-a-wake Cosmopolitan Club. He is generally popular with the boys and would make a splendid king for some island empire if the government doesn’t take advantage of its option on him” [2].
  • Miquel J. Arsuaga, B.S. Mechanical Engineering (1907 Vice-President) – Tolosa Guipuzcoa, Spain
    • “’Mike’ hails from Spain and although handicapped by his speech he has made friends with all those with whom he came in contact. He enjoys running, having acquired great ability, in this line, setting pace for the ‘Plank Roaders.’ His knowledge of math has enabled him to figure the curves of projectiles and thus elude the brickbats of the ‘Dirty Dozen’” [2].
  • Silverio Apostol, B.S. Agriculture (1907 Board of Directors – Chairman) – Iba, Zambales, Philippines
    • “’App’ is another wide-awake Phillipino who took readily to American ambition for honor and position, and consequently made good in a little of everything. He was one of the ‘high moguls’ in the Cosmopolitan Club, having taken an active part in its organization and sharing in the office graft later. His future will be spent in experimental farming back in the tropics” [2].
  • Arden B. Parkes, B.S. Mechanical Engineering (1907 Executive Committee – Chairman) – Queensland, Australia
    • "This long-legged progeny from the land of kangaroos came to us fresh in his Sophomore year. He is strong on bum Australian jokes, which, not being understood, have given him that high social position which he so strives to maintain. Notwithstanding this said social position he still claims to be true to a dark haired maiden back home” [2].

Group portrait and description of The Cosmopolitan Club, Purdue Chapter, 1907

 Officers Name Country
President Jose Rivera Philippines
Vice-President M.J. Arsuaga Spain
Secretary L. C. Yen China
Treasurer F. K. Sah China
Assistant Secretary A. S. Formoso Philippines
Assistant Treasurer H.B. Potter United States


"The Purdue branch of the Cosmopolitan Club was organized in the Fall of 1907 for the purpose of bringing together students from all countries. The growth of the club has been remarkable,  enrolling in its membership nearly all the foreign students in the University and a number from the United States. Chapters of the Cosmopolitan Club are to be found at nearly all of the large American universities and the local branch is one of the most energetic and popular clubs in the University.  Bi-weekly meetings are held which take the form of lectures, literary programs, smokers and socials" [2]. 

Members include students from United States, Argentine Republic, Australia, Bermuda, China, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Porto Rico, and Spain.

Author Bio:

Saad Mukhtar is a first-year doctoral fellow in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. He graduated with a BA in Film/Video studies from Purdue University in 2018, and with a BS in Business Administration from Drexel University. Saad’s area of research interests include archival science, ethnography, and semiotics.

[1] International Association of Purdue. 1955 bulletin. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University International Students collection.  

[2] Purdue University. 1908 Debris yearbook. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Debris Yearbooks.