Compton Brothers, The,

Compton Brothers, The, were among the most illustrious alumni of the Princeton Graduate School. All three graduated from the College of Wooster, where their father, a Presbyterian minister, was dean and professor of philosophy, and all three earned their Ph.D.'s at Princeton. Karl T. Compton (1887-1954), who received his Ph.D. in 1912, was professor of physics and chairman of the department at Princeton, and later president and chairman of the corporation of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilson M. Compton (1890-1967), who received his Ph.D. in 1915, taught economics, served the lumber industry and then the federal government as a specialist in forest conservation and timber management, and became president of the State College of Washington, later Washington State University. Arthur H. Compton (1892-1962), who received his Ph.D. in 1916, was a distinguished service professor at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Prize winner in physics (1927), took a leading part in the development of the atomic bomb, and was for a time chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. The trustees named one of the two quadrangles which were added to the original Graduate College in 1963 the Compton Quadrangle in their honor.

Wilson M. Compton, then the lone survivor of the three, spoke on their behalf at the dedication of the Compton Quadrangle on May 9, 1964. ``I classify all the teachers I have had in three categories,'' he said, ``those I have forgotten, those I have forgiven, and those I will never forget. In the last category I would include Frank Albert Fetter and Edward S. Corwin. My brother Karl, if he were here, would name, I am sure, William F. Magie and O. W. Richardson; my brother, Arthur, William F. Magie and Luther P. Eiesnhart.''


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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