Ellen Compton Fund Benefits Special Collections in University Libraries

Ellen Compton shares the Fay Jones archives with architect Glenn Murcutt in 2009.
Photo by Russell Cothren

Ellen Compton shares the Fay Jones archives with architect Glenn Murcutt in 2009.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumna Ellen Compton is being remembered through a newly established fund named in her memory. Compton, who worked for the university for 30 years, was an integral part of establishing the nationally recognized collecting focus for architectural records within the Special Collections division of University Libraries.

The Ellen Compton Fund for Special Collections was created with a gift of more than $92,000 from Compton’s estate and will enhance the holdings of Special Collections, particularly for architectural records.

Special Collections supports the research, teaching and learning mission of the U of A by collecting, preserving and providing access to unique and rare materials.

Compton passed away in March 2020 at the age of 81. During her time with Special Collections, she traveled the state as a field archivist, collecting materials for preservation in Special Collections, and worked on the extensive professional and personal papers of Fay Jones.

David Shipley, one of Compton’s sons, said, “Though Ellen first became part of the University of Arkansas as a freshman in the fall of 1956 and remained active in university activities from that time until her passing last year, it wasn’t until she began her career in Special Collections in 1980 that she truly found her home. This gift is from her to a place she loved, where she formed lasting relationships and where she found her purpose: collecting and preserving Arkansas stories for all of us.”

Ellen Compton.

The Ellen Compton Fund for Special Collections will enhance the holdings of Special Collections through the acquisition of materials or collections; digitization and maintenance of collections; or by supporting the access to and use of the collections by students, faculty, researchers and the public. These activities often necessitate the hiring of a student assistant, and this position will be known as the “Ellen Compton Student Assistant.”

“With this gift, we are grateful that Ellen will continue to leave her mark on the university, helping to shape the careers of interns like those she so enjoyed mentoring during her 30 years with the Libraries,” Shipley said.

“Architectural records are one of our key collecting strengths,” said Lori Birrell, associate dean for Special Collections. “Generosity like this helps to ensure that we can best grow and steward these collections and make them available to be used by our faculty, students, and researchers world-wide.”

In June 2020, Tom and Jill King of Fayetteville created the Ellen Compton Memorial Fund, which supports the collecting focus of architectural records within Special Collections to document the design environment in Arkansas and house the collections of nationally and internationally recognized architects, landscape architects and architectural photographers with significant connections to the state. Contributions are still being accepted for that fund.

About the University Libraries: Located in the heart of campus, the David W. Mullins Library is the university's main research library. Branch libraries include the Chemistry and Biochemistry Library, the Fine Arts Library, the Physics Library, and the Robert A. and Vivian Young Law Library. The Libraries provide access to more than 3.1 million volumes and more than 180,000 journals, and offer research assistance, study spaces, computer labs with printing and scanning, interlibrary loan and delivery services, and cultural exhibits and events. The Libraries' Special Collections division acquires, preserves, and provides access to materials on Arkansas and the region, its customs and people, and its cultural, physical, and political climate. Visit the Libraries' website at libraries.uark.edu to learn more about services and collections.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3% of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations
479-575-7346, jholland@uark.edu


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