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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. Types of materials include: correspondence, diaries, personal journals, negatives, speeches, scrapbooks, academic journals, black-and-white photographs, and artifacts.


  • 1870s-1920s
  • Other: Date acquired: 12/05/1985


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Some material in this collection are in the public domain, while other material copyrights are held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

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.


20.75 Cubic Feet (34 manuscript boxes, 2 cubic foot boxes, 11 artifact boxes (various sizes), 1 oversize folder, 1 flat file folder)

Arrangement Note

The Papers are organized into two series: Presidential Materials and Personal Materials. 1.  Presidential materials, 1880s-1920s (6.25 cubic feet).  This Series documents the administration of the fifth Purdue University President, Winthrop E. Stone.  It includes various speeches Stone gave on campus and at other venues, as well as official correspondence for the Office of the President.  It also documents financial transactions of the administration.  It features a variety of material related to the 1913 train wreck, which occurred during Stone’s administration.  Finally, it illustrates Stone’s academic research and publishing during his administration. Major subseries include: Addresses, 1901-1921 Correspondence, 1899-1920s Publications, 1900s-1920s Financial Materials, 1880s-1920s Scrapbooks and newsclippings, 1901-1920s Trainwreck materials, 1903 Photographs and pictorial materials, 1904-1920s      Materials in the series are arranged by form. 2.  Personal and professional materials, 1870s-1920s (14.25 cubic feet) This Series documents the personal life of Winthrop E. Stone and his family.  It includes photographs of various family members and colleagues, including images and maps of mountains, mountaineering, and natural settings Stone visited.  It also records Stone’s correspondence with family and with professional colleagues.  It features Stone’s daily journals, which document the years 1880-1921, with a gap between 1900-1909. Additionally, it also details Stone’s academic research and publishing.  Finally, it records Stone’s death and memorial after his fatal fall while mountain climbing. Subseries: Correspondence,1880s-1920s Academic research and publications, 1880s-1900s Addresses, 1892-1898 Photographs,1870s-1920s Diaries and Journals, 1880s-1921 Death and memorial materials,1920s Artifacts, 1900s Miscellaneous, 1889-1920s Oversized materials, 1913-1921 Materials in the series are arranged by form.

Acquisition Information

Part of collection donated by estate of Winthrop E. Stone on May 24, 1984. aPart of collection donated by William Shunk on November 1, 2003

Accruals and Additions

Part of collection donated by William Shunk on November 1, 2003

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained. Many materials have been placed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes.  Some loose newsprint has been photocopied and original newspaper clippings have been discarded.  Some clippings containing images of people or color graphics, or front pages of newspapers, have been preserved for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research.  Oversized materials and artifacts have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes.
Winthrop E. Stone papers
Under Revision
Shequita Parker and Michael Maune
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Third Edition. Collection description was first completed in 2008.

Revision Statements

  • 2013: Revised resource description, by Michael Maune.
  • 2016-11-28: Collection identifier updated from UA 2.05 to UA 49, by Amanda Burdick.
  • 2017-03-27: Removed FF 15 and OS L 14 identifiers, by Adriana Harmeyer.
  • 2020-05-08: Collection description updated by Adelle Rogers
  • 2021-03-29: Biographical Information updated by E. Sandgren with sketch written by David Hovde

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States