Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Stone, Winthrop Ellsworth, 1862-1921



  • Existence: June 12, 1862 - July 17, 1921

Biographical Information

Winthrop E. Stone, chemist, professor and university president, was born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire on June 12, 1862. He lived and worked on a farm in his youth and attended school only when conditions allowed. At the age of sixteen he began his academic career by entering Massachusetts Agricultural College. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry there in 1882. He then became a scientific assistant at Houghton Farm for two years. Later, he received another Bachelor of Science degree at Boston University in the mid-1880’s. In 1884 he moved to a position as an assistant chemist at the Massachusetts State Experiment Station at Amherst. From there he traveled to Europe and attended the Georg Augusta University in Göttingen, Germany through 1888 where he received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in chemistry and botany.

After returning to the United States, Stone took up the position of chief chemist at the University of Tennessee Experiment Station. This position was short lived. In October of 1889 Stone became head of the Chemistry Department at Purdue. Three years later he was elected to the post of Vice President of Purdue in November, 1892, making him the first vice president in the university’s history. He was appointed President in February of 1900 following the death of President James H. Smart. Stone was the fifth President of Purdue University.

In the first ten years of his tenure as president, Stone put an emphasis on expanding the School of Agriculture. In particular, he focused on perceived lack of interest on the part of the State’s agricultural community toward the value of the School. His campaign began with the building of the Agriculture Hall in 1902, along with the expansion of the facilities for Pharmacy, the building of a new Physics building, the civil engineering building, a chemistry laboratory, and an auditorium, the latter being built with private funds. Other construction projects followed. In total the campus in 1910 had nineteen buildings; twelve of which were erected in those first ten years of his administration. With the expansion of facilities came an expansion of the student body and the faculty.

Between 1903 and 1909 the faculty expanded by forty percent and the student body by thirty-five percent. The addition of the School of Home Economics in 1905 enlarged the population of female students. That same year Purdue absorbed the Medical College of Indianapolis, but the School of Medicine was short lived. The Education Department was created in 1908 and in 1909 Purdue began its Agricultural Extension Service. In the decade following eight more structures were added to the campus and several farms were donated for the use of the Agricultural Experiment Station. Stone appointed Purdue's first Dean of Women, Carolyn E. Shoemaker, in 1913.

Stone’s particular passion was mountain climbing. He was a member of four climbing clubs: the Appalachian Mountain Club, the American Alpine Club, the Alpine Club of Canada, and Portland, Oregon’s Mazamas. Stone died in a climbing accident on Mt. Eon in the Canadian Rockies on July 17, 1921.

He was a member of the American Chemical Society and the Society of the Promotion of Agricultural Science; as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Indiana Academy of Science.


UA 49, Winthrop E. Stone papers, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries


"Past Presidents." Purdue University Website. Purdue University Marketing and Media. Accessed February 24, 2009.


"DR. W.E. STONE DIES IN MOUNTAIN SLIDE; Wife of President of Purdue Uni versity, Who Accompanied, Him, Found Alive. MISSING SINCE JULY, 15 Searchers Had Been Scouring Mount Assiniboin in Search of Them-- Woman Found in Crevice." The New York Times, July 27, 1921.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

College of Agriculture, Administration of the College of Agriculture records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 44
Scope and Contents The College of Agriculture, Administration of the College of Agriculture, Records (1869-2009; 124.95 cubic feet) consists of administrative books, correspondence, financial records, faculty minutes, reports, and other materials relating to the administration of Purdue University’s School of Agriculture.
Dates: 1869-2009; Other: Date acquired: 03/08/2008

L. Murray Grant and Bernice Nelson Grant papers

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: MSA 330
Scope and Contents The L. Murray Grant and Bernice Nelson Grant papers document the Grants' student life and post-graduation ties to Purdue. The papers include dance cards, programs, articles, and correspondence with Purdue President Winthrop Stone and Trustee David Ross.
Dates: 1903 - 1933; Majority of material found within 1903 - 1905

Horton B. Knoll papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 521
Scope and Contents The Horton B. Knoll papers document Knoll's research, working papers, notes and typescripts for his books, A record of a university in the war years, 1941-1945, published in 1947, and The Story of Purdue Engineering, published in 1963. Also included among the papers is research material, working papers, notes and information related to Purdue presidents Owen, Smart, Stone, Elliott, and Hovde. There is also information Knoll compiled for his intended biography of John Purdue, and historical...
Dates: 1865 - 1981; Majority of material found within 1940 - 1963

Charles and Alice Shaw Major papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 82
Scope and Contents The Charles and Alice Shaw Major Papers (1847-1949; 51.25 cubic feet) document the personal and professional life of Charles Major and his wife Alice Major. Charles Major was an author and a member of the Purdue University board of trustees. The papers consist of Charles Major's literary works, materials from various theatrical productions, poetry written by Major, sketches, and materials from Major’s law career. The Majors' personal life is represented by the materials collected by Alice...
Dates: 1847-1949; Majority of material found within 1890-1924; Event: Date acquired: 11/30/1926

Purdue University School of Medicine collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 174
Scope and Contents The Purdue University School of Medicine collection documents the history of the short-lived School of Medicine of Purdue University, from its 1905 inception until its eventual 1908 merger with Indiana University and transformation into the current Indiana University School of Medicine. Topics covered in the collection include pre-medical courses offered at Purdue prior to 1905; early attempts by Indiana medical colleges to merge with Indiana University and Purdue University; the 1905 mergers...
Dates: 1895 - 1997; Majority of material found within 1905 - 1907

Winthrop E. Stone papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 49
Scope and Contents The Winthrop E. Stone papers (1880s-1990s; 20.75 cubic feet) documents the life of Winthrop E. Stone, his family, and his administration as the fifth president of Purdue University.  They feature Stone’s academic career as a chemist and agriculturalist as well as his various policies and endeavors while President at Purdue.  They also document his interest in mountaineering.  Extensive records of communication and reporting on Stone’s accidental death while mount climbing is also included....
Dates: 1870s-1920s; Other: Date acquired: 12/05/1985