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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 1 Collection or Record:

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