Compton family exhibit opening at WCHS

Compton family exhibit opening at WCHS

At the turn of the last century in a modest house on College Avenue in Wooster, Elias and Otelia Compton raised a family that produced three university presidents, a devoted missionary and educator, and a Nobel Prize winner. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called them “America’s First Family of Learning.” A new exhibit opening June 1 at the Wayne County Historical Society, 546 E. Bowman St., Wooster, traces their story.

Elias Compton taught philosophy, Latin and English at The College of Wooster from 1883-1928. Daughter Mary, a teacher and Presbyterian missionary, spent much of her life in India with her husband and fellow educator Charles Herbert Rice. Oldest son Karl T. Compton taught physics at Princeton University before becoming president of MIT while Wilson M. Compton built a distinguished career as an economist and business executive and served for seven years as president of the University of Washington.

The youngest, Arthur Holly Compton, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927 while a member of the University of Chicago faculty and played a key role in the Manhattan Project including hiring Robert Oppenheimer and went on to become chancellor of Washington University.

Tours of the eight-building Wayne County Historical Society campus including the Compton exhibit and two other special exhibits on Vietnam and the 75th anniversary of the Seaman Corporation are offered every Saturday at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. or by appointment. Admission is $5 for adults and free for those age 18 and under.

Learn more at or call 330-264-8856.

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