Skip to main content

Karl Taylor Compton Memorial Tribute, WGBH radio broadcast

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MC-0238

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises an audio recording of the October 4, 1954 Karl Taylor Compton Memorial Tribute speeches given by Ralph Lowell and James R. Killian on WGBH radio broadcast.


  • 1954-10-04


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Biographical Note

Karl Taylor Compton, 1887-1954, B.S. 1908, M.S. 1909, College of Wooster; Ph.D. in physics, 1912, Princeton University, was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1930 to 1948, then chairman of the Corporation until his death in 1954. He taught physics at Reed College, then at Princeton University, where he also was director of research at the Palmer Laboratory and chairman of the Physics Department. His areas of research included the passage of photoelectrons through metals, ionization and the motion of electrons in gases, the phenomena of fluorescence, the theory of the electric arc, and collisions of electrons and atoms.

In World War I he was assigned to the American Embassy in Paris as an associate scientific attache. At MIT Compton transformed both the administrative and academic structure, strengthened the scientific curriculum, and developed a new approach to education in science and engineering. He served as chairman of the Section of Physics of the National Academy of Sciences, 1927-1930, and in 1930 helped organize the American Institute of Physics. In 1933 President Roosevelt asked Compton to chair the new Scientific Advisory Board. When the National Defense Research Committee was formed in 1940, Compton became chief of Division D (detection: radar, fire control, etc.) and in 1941 was placed in charge of those divisions concerned with radar within the new Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). From 1943 to 1945 he was chief of the Office of Field Services of OSRD and scientific advisor to General MacArthur. After the Japanese surrender, Compton went to Japan as part of the Scientific Intelligence Mission. In 1948 he was appointed by President Truman to head the Research and Development Board, formed to oversee scientific preparedness in the postwar period. Compton resigned as president of MIT in 1948 and was then elected president of the MIT Corporation. He held that office until his death on June 22, 1954.

MIT History, Karl Taylor Compton, 1887-1954, November 1995.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 November 1: Edited by Lana Mason for compliance with DACS single-level optimum requirements.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US