Clair V. Mann (1884- 1974)

Born in Marshall County, Kansas, June 3,1884
Professor,Missouri School of Mines, Dept. of Engineering Drawing,1920-1946
Resident Engineer on the Phelps County Memorial Project, 1949-1951
Phelps County Highway Engineer and County Surveyor,1951-1964
United States Mineral Surveyor for both Nevada and California

        Clair Victor Mann, Ph.D. had an unusually rich and varied career as an engineer, an engineering educator, and a historian. He taught at several universities but spent most of his career at the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, Missouri. He was also an author of note, with over three hundred publications dealing with problems in engineering, traffic problems, and objective and aptitude tests, and testing. He wrote a 1040-page, history of the Missouri School of Mines, and was in the process of completing a five volume history of the Frisco Railroad, which was commissioned by the company itself.

        Born in Frankfort, Kansas in 1884, Mann completed his grade school education at the Reserville Community School in Marshall County, Kansas. After his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, young Clair Mann attended the Colorado State Preparatory School. In 1900, he began studying engineering through the International Correspondence School, of Scranton, Pennsylvania and gained employment as a surveyor. In 1911, he entered the engineering college at the University of Colorado and graduated in 1914 with his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. He received his degree of Civil Engineer, professional, in 1921, from the same institution. In 1929, he received his doctorate in Engineering Education from Iowa State University. His thesis, “Objective Type Tests in Engineering Education” was subsequently printed by Mc Graw- Hill, in New York. He was later given grants of $1,600 and $2,600 to carry out his aptitude tests for aspirant engineers, which have been widely adopted in the United States.

        Mann held a wide variety of jobs, having started work before he was sixteen, in the Challenge Windmill factory in Illinois. After graduating from the Colorado State Preparatory School, in Boulder, in 1905, he worked for a time in the Baldwin Planning Mill, and then joined the firm of Chase and Hall in general engineering and surveying practice, principally mine surveying and engineering. In 1907, he was an assistant to the United States Mineral Surveyor for both Nevada and California. He was also associated with the firm of W.D. Arnett & Company, in Reno, Nevada at this time, doing mineral surveys. The panic of 1907 curtailed all mining operations, and he went to work for the city of Boulder, Colorado, first as an assistant water commissioner, then as an assistant city engineer, and finally as special resident water system engineer building dams for the city water supply. This work lasted until 1914, when he received his degree in engineering, after which he went into teaching.

        His first position was in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where he was the head of the high school science department. In 1916, he joined the faculty of the University of Colorado, in Boulder, teaching Engineering Mathematics. During World War I, supervised the construction on the Apishapa Dam in Colorado, necessary to irrigate land for food for the war effort. In 1921, he was appointed head of the department of engineering drawing at the Missouri School of Mines, in Rolla, Missouri. In 1946, he resigned from the School of Mines, and for two years did research for his history of the Frisco Railroad. In 1948, he assisted the School of Mines in securing a large appropriation form the State of Missouri for a new mechanical engineering laboratory building. From 1949 until 1951, he was resident engineer on the Phelps County Memorial Hospital project. In 1951, he was appointed Phelps county Highway Engineer, and County Surveyor.

        Mann maintained, throughout his teaching career a wide variety of interests and projects, which extended far beyond the campus. In 1922, he chaired a special faculty committee at the School of Mines, to work with the nation’s engineering teachers through their organization, the Society for the promotion of Engineering Education, on a nation-wide study of engineering education. The results of his research, a study of the degrees held by the 5,000 teachers employed in engineering instruction, brought him national recognition from the society. Established as an expert, he went on to perfect tests in engineering aptitudes, work which led to his doctorate. His methods were eventually adopted in engineering colleges all over the country. In 1940, the United States Work Progress Administration granted him $26,000 for even further test experimentation, which led to improved testing methods.

        In 1941, with the assistance of his wife Bonita, he completed his 1040-page history of the Missouri School of Mines, a work which was 12 years in preparation. Between 1951 and 1956, the Mann's broadcast some 225 “Half Hour Narratives of Phelps County History” over the Rolla radio station, KTTR. This work was an outgrowth of Dr. Mann’s establishment with Dr. R.E Breuer, the Phelps County Historical Society, in 1938. With the exception of one year, Dr. Mann was the official secretary and historian of the society until his death in 1974. For their radio broadcasts, and other joint historical work, the Mann's received the 1951 award and citation of the American Association for State and Local History, as being the persons who had done the most in that year to promote local history in the Seven Missouri River states.

        Dr. Mann headed the committee of the Missouri Surveyor’s association, to bring about certain changes in the survey laws of Missouri, which were enacted nearly a century ago. For example, his scheme for definite numbering of all county roads was adopted by the Missouri Highway Department. He was one of the organizers of the Phelps County Centennial, and also of the centennial celebration of the foundation of Rolla, which took place January 25, 1961.

        Mann, belonged to: American Society of Civil Engineers; American Association of Engineers; National Society of Professional Engineers; American Economic Association; American Association for Political & Social Science; Midwest Psychological Association; and Missouri School of Mines Faculty Discussion Club. He served as president of the Rolla community Music Club; chairman, Drawing Division of the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education; editor, Journal of Engineering Drawing; also of the Journal of Engineering Education Research; and was a fellow, American Association for Advancement of Science. He served as the member of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers; Missouri Association Registered of Land Surveyors; Life Member of the State Historical Societies of Kansas and Missouri; and a member of the Illinois State Historical Society, in addition to his connection, already noted, with the Phelps County Historical Association. He was a registered professional engineer for Missouri. He belonged to the following honor societies; Tau Beta Pi; Phi Kappa Phi; Phi Kappa Delta; and Theta Tau. He was one of the four Missouri members of the National Advisory Council for the United States Civil War Centennial of Washington D.C.

        His religious affiliation was Methodist, and he was a Mason, affiliated with the Rolla Masonic Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Number 213. He originated a number of musical compositions, and in his own words, “…enjoys interesting people, gardens, flowers, geology and mineral specimens, beautiful sunsets, high class musical concerts, and just being out in the woods, next to nature.

        On the August 29th, 1906 in Greeley Colorado, Clair Victor Mann married Bonita A. Hunt , who was born in Windsor, Colorado, July 19th, 1888, the daughter of Linfield Voorhees and Georgiana Elizabeth (Sykes) Hunt. Her father, Linfield V. Hunt, operated a prominent meat market in Boulder, and her mother Georgiana (Sykes) Hunt, was descended from the well-known Van Horn family of New York City.

        Mrs. Mann graduated from Colorado State Preparatory School in 1905. During her marriage to Dr. Mann, she had done some teaching, and was very active in the Methodist church. She also rendered her husband invaluable help in his historical work. He said himself that his work “…would never have been accomplished without her interested aid and help”.

        In addition to her church work, Mrs. Mann was for years a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union; The American War Mothers; The Order of the Eastern Star (Rolla Chapter 176); Rolla Civic Music Association; Rolla Community Music Club; Rolla Parent-Teacher Association; and Rolla Civic Club.

        Dr. and Mrs. Mann became the parents of five children: Frances Nita Clair, Margaret Elizabeth, Robert Livingston, Paul Stanley, and John Phillip.

        Mann died Nov. 30, 1974 at the Phelps County Memorial Hospital at the age of 90. He had a long and illustrious career as an engineer, educator and historian. Prior to his death he successfully completed and bound three volumes of manuscripts on the History of Rolla before death finally silenced his typewriter.

        Excerpts of this biography come from A Biographical Sketch of Clair V. Mann & family contained in Volume 4(pages 878-880) of The History of Missouri (1967) by David D. March.