World War I -- Life Histories/Section 018/Charles Riborg Mann

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A photograph of Mann that was published in Professional Engineer magazine in 1923[1]

Overview[edit]

Charles Riborg Mann (1869-1942) was an American physicist, engineer, and educator. He served as a civilian adviser in the United States War Department and was a member of the Committee on Education and Special Training during World War I.

Biography[edit]

Charles Riborg Mann was born July 12, 1869 in Orange, New Jersey to Charles Holbrook and Clausine (Borchsenius) Mann.[2] In 1890, Mann received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University and received his Master of Arts degree from the same institution the following year. Mann then attended the University of Berlin, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1895. On June 25, 1896, Mann married Adrienne Amalie Graf. They had two children, Riborg Graf and Adrienne.[3]

In 1896, Mann began work as a research assistant at the University of Chicago. He also worked as an instructor and assistant professor before taking a position as an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics. In 1914, Mann began to work with the Carnegie Advancement for the Foundation of Teaching in addition to teaching. Within this organization, Mann worked as an investigator for the joint committee on the engineering education of national engineering societies.[4] As an investigator, Mann helped conduct and analyze research concerning how engineering programs across the nation were being run and how they were organized. With this information, the committee sought to find ways to improve these programs overall.[5]

In February of 1918, Mann was appointed to the Committee on Education and Special Training, a branch of the United States War Department.[6] One of Mann’s jobs as a member of the Committee was to recruit engineering students from various technical schools to join the “Reserve Corps of the Engineering Department” in support of the war. Mann contributed to letters that were sent to these schools, outlining the regulations and requirements for students to join the Corps.[7] Mann also contributed to and reviewed letters sent by the War Department to technical schools requesting the government’s use of their facilities during the war. Under the government’s control, these schools were used to train more men in technical skills.[8]

From 1919-1925, Mann served as chairman of the civilian advisory board for the War Department. He also served as the director of the American Council on Education from 1922 until 1934.[9]

Mann died on September 12, 1942, presumably from old age.[10]

Published Works[edit]

Mann wrote several instructional texts during his life. Most were related to Physics, but Mann also wrote and published the findings from his studies with the Carnegie Foundation and documented the work of the Committee on Education and Special Training.[11]

  • Manual of Advanced Optics (1902)
  • Physics (with George Ransom Twiss) (1905)
  • The Teaching of Elementary Physics (1912)
  • A Study of Engineering Education (1918)
  • Report on the work of the Committee on Education and Special Training (1919)

Social Context[edit]

Role of Technical Schools and the Scientific Community in World War I[edit]

During the war, “American academics became ‘scientific soldiers’”.[12] Many scientific fields contributed to the war effort in different ways; “Geologists found new sources of oil and water, physicists designed acoustic devices, geographers drew artillery maps, [and] biologists developed disinfectants and psychologists treated shell shock”.[13] Universities offered courses that were specifically related to military endeavors, such as classes in ‘military geology'.[14] Technical schools in particular were transformed into places that focused mainly on instructing men in technical fields that would give them skills to serve in the military as engineers. As part of his work with the Committee on Education and Special Training, Mann worked to make the transformation of these technical schools a reality.[15] Additionally, Mann was one of the many members of the Committee who worked to recruit technically trained men for the military. These students were often exempt from the more general Selective Service Act. This way, they could complete their studies before joining the military.[16] Contemporary news articles and advertisements, such as one published in The Atlanta Constitution n 1917 described this option to study first and enter the military second as “the opportunity that young men have been waiting for”.[17]

Engineering Corps[edit]

Throughout the nineteenth century, men in the United States Army Corps of Engineers were responsible for building “roads, canals, piers, and lighthouses; they constructed and repaired fortifications and surveyed and explored the country”.[18] During World War I specifically, the Corps’ work on the European front consisted mainly of “vast port, depot, road, and railroad works in France”.[19] The ports, bridges, and other structures that engineers constructed helped the army transport war materials to the front.[20] Engineers also “harvested timber for military construction; employed searchlights in antiaircraft defense; organized the first U.S. Army tanks units; and developed chemical warfare munitions and defensive equipment".[21] While wartime engineers were mainly responsible for the production and setup of equipment, they were also occasionally called to engage in direct combat on the front.[22] Engineers regularly engaged in both active and peacetime services to the country, and it was not uncommon for them to hold top positions in the military.[23]

References[edit]

  1. Charles Riborg Mann papers, ca. 1908-1923 [manuscript]. Folders 1-13 [a civilian adviser in the United States War Department during World War I as a member of the Committee on Education and Special Training]. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wilson Library. 12 February 2015.
  2. "Profile Detail--Charles Riborg Mann." Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/200011118455>.
  3. "Profile Detail--Charles Riborg Mann." Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/200011118455>.
  4. "Profile Detail--Charles Riborg Mann." Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/200011118455>.
  5. "Foundation History." Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. <http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/who-we-are/foundation-history/>.
  6. Charles Riborg Mann papers, ca. 1908-1923 [manuscript]. Folders 1-13 [a civilian adviser in the United States War Department during World War I as a member of the Committee on Education and Special Training]. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wilson Library. 12 February 2015.
  7. Charles Riborg Mann papers, ca. 1908-1923 [manuscript]. Folders 1-13 [a civilian adviser in the United States War Department during World War I as a member of the Committee on Education and Special Training]. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wilson Library. 12 February 2015.
  8. Charles Riborg Mann papers, ca. 1908-1923 [manuscript]. Folders 1-13 [a civilian adviser in the United States War Department during World War I as a member of the Committee on Education and Special Training]. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wilson Library. 12 February 2015.
  9. "Profile Detail--Charles Riborg Mann." Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/200011118455>.
  10. "Profile Detail--Charles Riborg Mann." Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/200011118455>.
  11. "Profile Detail--Charles Riborg Mann." Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/200011118455>.
  12. Macleod, Roy. "Scientists." The State. Ed. Jay Winter. N.p.: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 437. Print. Vol. 2 of The Cambridge History of the First World War. 3 vols.
  13. Macleod, Roy. "Scientists." The State. Ed. Jay Winter. N.p.: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 456-457. Print. Vol. 2 of The Cambridge History of the First World War. 3 vols.
  14. Macleod, Roy. "Scientists." The State. Ed. Jay Winter. N.p.: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 450. Print. Vol. 2 of The Cambridge History of the First World War. 3 vols.
  15. Charles Riborg Mann papers, ca. 1908-1923 [manuscript]. Folders 1-13 [a civilian adviser in the United States War Department during World War I as a member of the Committee on Education and Special Training]. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wilson Library. 12 February 2015.
  16. "Engineering Students to Be Exempt from Draft: Will Be Allowed to Complete Course as Future Military Assets." Louisville Courier Journal 9 Dec. 1917: D1. Print.
  17. "To Enlist Four New Engineering Units: Georgia Is Asked to Supply 200 Technical Men for U.S. Army Service." The Atlanta Constitution 5 Sept. 1917: 10. Print.
  18. Fine, Lenore, and Jesse A. Remington. "Engineers, Corps of." Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. 218-220. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
  19. Fine, Lenore, and Jesse A. Remington. "Engineers, Corps of." Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. 218-220. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
  20. "U.S. Army Engineers in World War I." The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers : A History. N.p.: n.p., 2008. 123. Print.
  21. "U.S. Army Engineers in World War I." The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers : A History. N.p.: n.p., 2008. 123. Print.
  22. "U.S. Army Engineers in World War I." The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers : A History. N.p.: n.p., 2008. 125. Print.
  23. Fine, Lenore, and Jesse A. Remington. "Engineers, Corps of." Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. 218-220. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.