Amos Eaton, a lawyer turned natural philosopher, established Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1824 to instruct the sons and daughters of farmers in the “application of science to the common purposes of life”. While this act was a milestone in the history of engineering education, RPI’s archivists are constantly challenged to have it appreciated by the academic community. Although it is the oldest existing engineering school in the country, engineers typically have little opportunity to make use of the historical record in their daily work. Thus, the challenge of reference at a technical university is not simply how to provide the service but to whom.