(July 18, 1917-Aug. 8, 1993). Born in Bicknell, Indiana, Mildred Compton earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry at the University of Michigan and Tulane University. From 1940 to 1946, she was a research chemist for Eli Lilly And Company. In 1952 she joined The Children’S Museum (TCM) Guild, and by 1956 was elected Guild president. During her year as president, she became very active in the museum’s operation, and Grace Blaisdell Golden hired her as executive secretary when Compton’s husband died in 1961. Upon Golden’s retirement in 1964, Compton became the third director of TCM.

Mildred S. Compton with children, ca. 1980s Credit: Indiana University Indianapolis View Source

Under Compton’s leadership, TCM grew in size and recognition into a world-class museum. In 1971, she professionalized the institution’s operations so that TCM became one of the first organizations accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM). Compton orchestrated the $7 million capital fund campaign that resulted in building the core of the present facilities and broadening community support. Throughout her career, she held many leadership positions within the museum community, including vice president of AAM and president of the American Association of Youth Museums. Additionally, she helped found the Association of Indiana Museums and the Midwest Museums Conference.

Compton also served on the boards of many local businesses and cultural institutions. She retired from TCM in 1982 and received AAM’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988.

Revised February 2021

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