In Memoriam: Ellen Kay Compton, 1938-2020

Ellen Compton, who served for many years as an archivist in the special collections unit of the University of Arkansas Libraries, died on March 19. She was 81 years old.

A native of Little Rock, Dr. Compton earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Arkansas. She was president of the Women’s Student Association on campus.

For the next several years, Dr. Compton immersed herself in the study and teaching of history, working on her doctorate and teaching Western Civilization at the university. She then began her career as a process librarian with Fayetteville Public Schools.

In 1980, she was hired to work in the special collections unit at the University of Arkansas Libraries. She traveled the state as a field archivist, collecting materials for preservation in special collections. Among these was a major collection of records from women’s clubs in the state. In 2002, she began work on the extensive professional and personal papers of Fay Jones, a prize-winning architect and faculty member of the university’s School of Architecture. Dr. Compton retired from the university in 2009.

Dr. Compton served as president of the Arkansas Historical Association from 1986-1988. She was the co-author of Fayetteville: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing, 2011), a book of photos and descriptions detailing the history of the town, beginning with its founding in 1828.

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