Blinded by science

A lab accident that blinded Edward Campbell at age 28 did not end his distinguished career. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)

Edward Campbell was in 1892 completing his second year as a professor, teaching and researching in the infant field of metallurgy, when a lab explosion blinded him. The young father, now distraught and facing an uncertain future, was visited by President James Angell. Your best days are ahead of you, was Angell’s message. Campbell’s family would grow to six children. All would earn degrees at Michigan. At all ages, the Campbell children read aloud to their father. He taught and conducted research as a Michigan faculty member for another 33 years, and published 77 scientific papers, including 74 after losing his sight. He died in 1925, at age 62. In the entryway of the Chemistry Building that Campbell helped make reality — a building that continues to serve students and faculty — a bronze tablet recognizes his career: “He contributed nobly to life as well to science.”

—  From “Blinded by Science” by Kim Clarke, presented at the University of Michigan Heritage Project website, celebrating U-M’s 2017 bicentennial.



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