The Compton Collection includes clippings, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia and manuscripts of the family of Dr. Elias and Ms. Otelia Compton.

Dr. Elias Compton was appointed Alumni Professorship of Philosophy in 1908 and in 1937 the endowed chair was renamed The Compton Professorship of Philosophy in honor of Elias who had served the college from 1883-1928. Elias came to the college as an instructor of Latin and English and later went on to become the college’s first dean. In 1895-1896 he taught the college’s first course in the history and science of education.

Otelia Compton was a guiding force in her own right. She was on the board of managers of the children’s missionary homes on campus. In 1933 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Western College for Women (Oxford, Ohio) “for achievement as wife and mother of the Comptons.” In 1939 she earned the title “American Mother” given by the Golden Rule Foundation.

Arthur H. Compton (Class of 1913) received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927 for his work with X-rays and what later became known as “The Compton Effect.” Arthur was the director of the University of Chicago laboratory when he received an order from the President on December 6, 1941, to prepare a scientific team to develop an atomic weapon for use against the Japanese. On December 2, 1942, he was among a team of men who first witnessed a controlled nuclear reaction. He also served as chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

Karl T. Compton (Class of 1908) was president of M.I.T., as well as a well-known scientist in his own right. Wilson M. Compton (Class of 1911) was the president of Washington State University and a renowned economist and business executive for the lumber industry. Their sister, Mary Compton Rice (Class of 1911), also is included in this collection, although the bulk of materials relating to her life are included in a related digital exhibit titled "Life and Letters of Mary Compton Rice", which is house outside of the repository.

Many generations of the Compton family have attended the college. Members of the family have served on various campus-related committees, including the Board of Trustees.


Browse the Compton Family Collection:

Compton Family

Correspondence and Documents