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Ethan A.H. Shepley Personal Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: WUA-03-wua00462

The Ethan A.H. Shepley Personal Papers include correspondence, meeting minutes, committee and business materials, etc. by Shepley.


  • 1954-1956


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


3 linear feet

3 boxes

Biographical Information

Ethan A.H. Shepley was the first native St. Louisan and the first Washington University alumnus to hold the position of chancellor.

Born in 1896, he was a third generation Washingtonian, his grandfather having been a member of the corporation during the William Greenleaf Eliot era and his father an 1882 graduate of the law school.

He was educated at Smith Academy in St. Louis and a private school in Pennsylvania before entering Yale and earning his undergraduate degree. He entered Harvard Law School but completed his law studies at Washington University, graduating in 1922.

From 1921 until 1954 he practiced law in St. Louis and began his lifelong involvement in the city’s cultural and civic affairs. Also active in politics, he was a delegate-at-large to the 1943–44 constitutional convention and took a leading role in writing Missouri’s present constitution. He was also the Republican Party’s candidate for Missouri Governor in 1964 but was defeated.

He was a member of the university’s Board of Directors from 1940 until his appointment as chancellor in 1954. During his tenure as chancellor the university began making the transition from a “streetcar college” for local students to a national university enrolling a majority of its students from outside the area. Shortly after his installation as chancellor he desegregated the dormitories, completing the job of integrating the campus started during the Compton era.

He spearheaded the three-year, $20 million “Second Century Campaign” that was the second largest of its day for an American university. The funds brought about a spate of new buildings on campus, including development of dormitories on the South 40, the John M. Olin Library, Urbauer Hall for engineering, Busch Laboratory for biology, and Steinberg Hall for the Gallery of Art (the gallery is now the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum), as well as the Spencer T. Olin Residence Hall and others on the Medical Campus.

Staunch in his defense of academic freedom in the midst of the McCarthy era, he received the prestigious Alexander Meiklejohn Award for Academic Freedom from the American Association of University Professors in 1959.

He retired in 1961 saying that the university was ready for new leadership, but in his retirement he stayed as committed as ever to the university, serving in many ways, including as chairman of the board and chairman of the university’s “Seventy by ‘Seventy” fund drive. He died in 1975.

Processing Information

Processed by Jerik Leung in July 2017.

Ethan A.H. Shepley Personal Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May 14: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495