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William Oxley Thompson, bulk: 1891 - 1899, 1891-1971

 Sub-Group — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, reports and printed material mainly related to Thompson's term as Miami University President. Also included, Thompson's reports to the Board of Trustees, a report concerning changes in the criteria for awarding the M.A. degree, and materials relating to Thompson's involvement with the Lybarger Bill.


  • Majority of material found within 1891 - 1899
  • 1891-1971


Conditions Governing Access

Materials do not circulate and are made available to users in the Miami University Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials do circulate and may only be used in the archives.

Biographical / Historical

Birth Death 1855-1933

Term 1891-99 Born, Cambridge, O., Nov. 5, 1855. A. B. Muskingum College, 1878. A.M., the same, 1881. D.D., the same, 1891. LL. D.. Western University of Pennsylvania, 1897, Oberlin Coll. 1908., Miami Univ. 1922, Ohio State University, 1929. Licensed by the Presbytery of Zanesville at Dresden, Ohio, April 13, 1881. Graduated from the Western Theological Seminary Allegheny City, Pa., 1882. Ordained by the Presbytery of Fort Dodge, Fort Dodge, Iowa, July 13. 1882. Home Missionary and Pastor, Odebolt., Iowa, 1882-85; Pastor, Longmont, Colorado, 1885-91; President of Longmont College, 1885-89. President Miami Univ., 1891-99. President Ohio State University, 1899-1925. General Moderator, Presbyterian Churches of America, 1926. Also served on several commissions by President Wilson, and served as President of the Columbus Board of Education. Died, December 9, 1933. [Miami Alumni Directory, Centennial Edition, p. xxi; "Dr. W. O.Thompson Taken by Death," Alumni News Letter, ser.32, n.5 (January 1934): 3-4.

During his term, State aid to Miami was increased and placed on a regular basis and the faculty organized. But as Ohio State University President in 1906, Thompson promoted the Lybarger Bill which would have reduced Miami to the status of a Normal School. an action that angered Miami President Guy Potter Benton.

Bibliography: Emory Leroy Ferris, "The Thompson Administration," In Historical Addresses Delivered to the Alumni In Connection with the Centennial Commencement Exercises of Miami University, June 12-17, 1909. Miami Bulletin ser.8, n.3 (September 1909): 40-43. [6BUL - Box 2 - 3-B-5A]

James E. Pollard, William Oxley Thompson. Columbus: Ohte University Press, 1955.

William Oxley Thompson was born in Cambridge, Ohio on November 5, 1855. He received an A.B. in 1878 and a D.D. in 1891 from Muskingum College. On April 13, 1881, Thompson was licensed by the Presbytery of Zanesville at Dresden, Ohio. He served as a home missionary and pastor in Odebolt, Iowa from 1882 to 1885. From 1885 to 1889, Thompson served as President of Longmont College in Colorado. In 1891, the Miami University Board of Trustees named Thompson President of Miami University. During his tenure Thompson actively recruited students by touring southern Ohio, and he succeeded in doubling Miami enrollment during his first year. He took steps to discourage fraternity hazing, and in 1892, oversaw completion of Miami's first scientific laboratory building, Brice Hall. Under Thompson, Miami professionalized its M.A. degree by requiring both a period in residence and a specific course of study for candidates. Thompson also lobbied successfully for legislation supporting Ohio colleges. During his term, state aid to Miami was increased and an annual state subsidy begun. Thompson accepted the Presidency of Ohio State University in 1899 and remained there until 1925. In 1926, Thompson lobbied the Ohio Legislature to approve the Lybarger Bill, a measure that would have essentially stripped Miami of its liberal arts program, leaving it a normal school. The Bill was eventually defeated, largely due to the efforts of the Miami President Guy Potter Benton. After leaving Ohio State, Thompson served as the General Moderator for the Presbyterian Churches of America in 1926. He died on December 9, 1933.


2 Boxes

Language of Materials



Collection of materials relating to the life of Presbyterian minister and educator William Oxley Thompson who served as President of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio from 1888 to 1891.


President; William Oxley Thompson Collection; 1891-1971; 1974 Box 1 [13A-A-3A] Files: Addresses, 1891-1912 1. Inauguration of William O. Thompson, D.D. as President of Miami University. Oxford, O.: Miami University, 1891. 2. Corporations--Their Uses and Abuses. Address . . . January 16, 1896. n.p., [1896] 3. "In What Sense and to What Extent is Freedom of Teaching in State Colleges and Universities Expedient and Permissible?" [Delivered Before the National Association of State Universities, . . . November 14, 1910] 4. "The Influence of the Morrill Act upon American Higher Education" [From Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth Annual Convention of the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, . . . Nov. 13-15, 1912] Presidency, 1891-99, and undated 5. Letters of recommendation (May 2-June 1, 1891) a. David H. Moore (May 2, 1891) b. T. C. Kirkwood (May 14, 1891) c. Sylvester Scoul[?] (May 14, 1891) d. Charles Bruce (May 14, 1891) e. W. F. McDowell (May 20, 1891) f. B. B. Warfield (May 23, 1891) g. John M. Davidson (May 25, 1891) h. B. W. Chidlaw (May 25, 1891) i. W. J. McSurely (May 29, 1891) j. Henry E. Thayer (June 1, 1891) 5a. Inauguration Invitation (September 15, 1891) 6. Report of the Department of History and Political Economy (1892-97) a. June 1892 b. June 1893 c. June 1895 d. June 1897 7. Reports to the Board of Trustees (1892-99) a. June 1892 b. Report re. changes in the criteria for awarding Master's Degrees (June 15, 1892) c. June 1893 d. June 1894 e. June 1895 f. June 1896 g. June 1897 h. June 1898 [printed brochure] i. June 1899 [printed brochure] j. Report re. printing of the 1899 Alumni Catalogue (July 27, 1899) 8. Correspondence re. Honorary M.A. degree for Rufus Bartlett Hall (June 20-22, 1895)[2 letters, with cover letters and accession record copy] 9. Thompson to Dr. Walker, letter of introduction for "Mrs. Stroble of Hamilton" who is to furnish the bouquets for the Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, and Miami Bauquets on June 14 (April 21, 1899) 10. Copy of Board of Trustees resolution asking Thompson not to go to Ohio State and increasing his salary (June 1899) 11. Sketch of Thompson's service to Miami by a Board of Trustees committee (June 1899) 12. Thompson's letter of resignation from the Miami Presidency (June 24, 1899) 13. Taxation. Oxford, O.: n.p. [pamphlet written by Thompson while at Miami University] Miscellaneous, 1906-71 14. "As to Miami University" [1906][Pamphlet critical of Thompson's and Ohio State's backing of the Lybarger Bill] 15. Anna Bishop to Thompson, states that Thompson, by supporting the Lybarger Bill, is "now endeavoring to crush the life out of her [Miami University] that your own institution may be built up." (February 20, 1906) 15a. Thompson to Walter L. Tobey re. student fees (February 26, 1920) 16. Raymond Hughes correspondence re. Thompson (1925-26) a. Hughes to Thompson, upon Thompson's appointment to the Board of Lane Seminary (September 21, 1925) b. Correspondence [2 letters] re. and copies of Hughes' tribute to Thompson upon his resignation as Ohio State President (October 14, 22, 1925) c. Hughes to Thompson, telegram containing best wishes on Thompson's 70th birthday [1926] d. Hughes to Thompson, re. deplorable condition of athletics at Centre College (March 30, 1926) 17. Thompson's submission of Report of the Committee on University Control at the National Association of State Universities (1931) 17a. "Twas a Great Day for Miami--When Dr. W. O. Thompson First Came to Become President" (News clip--October 12, 1931) 18. Death Notices (1934)[News clips and article from the January 1934 Alumni News Letter] 19. Francis P, Weisenburger. "William Oxley Thompson: Clergyman and Educator." Journal of Presbyterian History 49, n.1 (Spring 1971): 80-97. 20. Biographical information on Thompson assembled by Harvey Minnich (1933-47) 21. David Stanton Tappan, October 18, 1961 to his sister Nonnie 22. David Stanton Tappan to his sister Nonnie December 10, 1861 23. To Rev. John B. Stanton Letter of Introduction for Ms. D. S. Tappan, September 20, 1860 24. Letter of David Stanton Tappan to his sister Nonnie, October 4, 1860 - exhibit 6/9/04-1/15/05 McGuffey Museum 25. David Stanton Tappan to Nonnie Tappan March 14, 186? 26. David Stanton Tappan to Nonnie Tappan, February. 2, 1861 27. David Stanton Tappan to Nonnie Tappan April 3, 1863 28. David Stanton Tappan to Sis, Nonnie February 13, 1863 29. Letter to David Stanton Tappan to his sister Nonnie April 26, 1861 exhibit 6/9/04-1/15/05 30. David Stanton Tappan to his mother October 27, 1860 31. Letter of David Stanton Tappan to his sister Nonnie exhibit 6/9/04-1/15/05 31. David Stanton Tappan to Nonnie L. Houston, June 16, 1864 32. David Stanton Tappan September 7, 1863 33. Letters of David S. Patten 1800's Mrs. Paul Hoxworth

President; William Oxley Thompson: "Evangel of Education" By James E. Pollard. Columbus, Oh.: Ohio State University; 1955 [1A-E-5A]


Organized into the following series: I. Addresses, 189101912; II. Presidency, 1891-99, and undated; III. Miscellaneous, 1906-71. Arranged chronologically within each series.

Physical Location

Miami University Archives, King Library, 3rd Floor, Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from various sources.

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Processing Information

The collection was processed by Bob Schmidt, Archivist, Miami University

Repository Details

Part of the Miami University and Western College Memorial Archives Repository