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Ernest H. Lindley, 1920-1939

Call Number: 2/9

Biography of Ernest Hiram Lindley (1869-1940)

Ernest Hiram Lindley was born in 1869 in Paoli, Indiana. He earned his BA and MA from Indiana University in 1893 and 1894 respectively. In 1897, he received his PhD from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He then went on to complete post-doctoral work at Harvard.

Lindley returned to Indiana University in 1893 to teach Psychology and Philosophy and stayed there until 1917. He left to be the President of the University of Idaho, in which position he served until 1920, when he was chosen to be the next Chancellor at the University of Kansas.

As Chancellor, Lindley led KU through the prosperous times of the 1920s and the difficult 1930s. During his first 10 years at KU, the alumni association more than doubled in membership and began the drive for Memorial Stadium and Memorial Union. The stadium was begun in 1921 and finished in 1927, and the Union was completed by 1938. During the 1920s Lindley fought for higher faculty wages, only to see them dropped again in the early days of the Depression, and he fought again in 1933-1934 for them to be restored to their previous levels. He encouraged philanthropy towards the university. He carefully nurtured relationships with large donors, and during his tenure Elizabeth Watkins donated the money to build a student hospital.

Perhaps what Lindley is best known for is the National Youth Administration (NYA). During the Depression, President Roosevelt authorized a variety of public works projects, such as the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). In 1934, Lindley convinced the administration that college students trying to put themselves through school also needed assistance, leading to the development of the National Youth Administration.

Lindley offered his resignation on December 1, 1938, though he served until 1939. He was given a year's leave of absence and was then to return to the University as a professor. However, Lindley fell ill on a trip around the world and died on his way back to the United States from Japan in 1940. He was buried at sea.


59 Linear Feet (133 document cases + 1 volume)

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States