BENTON, ELBERT JAY (23 Mar. 1871-28 Mar. 1946), was an author, educator, historian, and college administrator. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, to Oliver Dustin and Sarah Proctor Benton, Elbert grew up in Kansas where he received his A.B. degree from Campbell College, Kansas City University. He taught in high schools while doing graduate work at the University of Chicago and at Johns Hopkins University, from which he received his Ph.D in 1903, when he was appointed instructor of history at Adelbert College. He became assistant professor in 1906; full professor in 1909; and the first dean of the newly organized Graduate School in 1925, although he continued to teach. He retired in 1941, becoming dean emeritus. In 1942, Benton, who had served as secretary and trustee of the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY since 1913, became acting director, and subsequently director. Benton wrote several books, including Peace without Victory (1918) and A Short History of the Western Reserve Historical Society, 1867-1942, both published by the society. He coauthored several histories with Western Reserve University professor HENRY E. BOURNE, and also wrote the 3-volume Cultural History of Cleveland. He was an editor of the American Historical Review and contributed articles to the Dictionary of American Biography and the Dictionary of American History. In 1959, the Elbert Jay Benton Chair in History was established in his honor at Western Reserve University.
Benton married Emma Kaul in June 1895. She died in May 1925. In 1927 he married Emma's sister, Irene J. Kaul (d. 22 Nov. 1977). Benton had no children. He died in SHAKER HTS. and was buried in Knollwood Cemetery.
Finding aid for the Elbert Jay Benton Papers. WRHS.