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Munro, George Wesley (1872-1964) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Munro, George Wesley (1872-1964)

Historical Note:

George Wesley Munro was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 15, 1872. In 1909 he married Gertrude Madden. They later had one son named Robert Fowlis Munro.

Munro discovered the world of science from a textbook in physics and an enthusiastic teacher in a one room schoolhouse. He graduated from High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan and went on to attended Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) for one year. In 1894 he transferred to Purdue University. He earned a BSEE degree in 1897 and an EE degree in 1898 from Purdue.

He then worked for 12 years in industry as an engineer with the Western Electric Company, Westinghouse, Church and Kerr, and the General Electric Company. Munro’s interest in people and intellectual matters led him to return to Purdue as an instructor. In December 1906 Munro accepted a position as assistant in the Engineering Laboratory. He became Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1918 and full professor in 1926.

From 1921 to 1942 Professor Munro devoted most of his time to instruction in the field of engineering thermodynamics. He was known on campus as “Uncle Mun”; his personality radiated kindness and confidence. He established the Munro Scholarship Fund in 1935 for worthy students.

He was chosen in 1922 to teach Advanced Thermodynamics, one of the two graduate courses offered. He devised examinations for which the passing grade was 70 and the highest possible grade was 200. This gave all the students an opportunity to tell all they knew, and kept even the best of them in the classroom until the end of the hour.

In 1897 Munro finished compiling “John Purdue and Purdue University: A Study of the Relations Between Them from Its Origin Until His Death.” The 222 page typescript evolved from research in an estimated 4,500 issues of Lafayette newspapers printed between 1869 and 1876. Writing about the project, Munro explained: “Primarily this is source material and may prove of value when a complete history of the university is prepared. [By itself] it has only slight popular appeal.”

His other writings include:

Linear elements on the Lunar Surface Lafayette, Indiana, 1937

Problems in Engineering Thermodynamics Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1936.

He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Fraternity and the American Association of University Professors. Professor Munro retired from Purdue University on June 30, 1942. Munro died on January 31, 1964 in Lafayette, Indiana.


Knoll, H. B. Story of Engineering Purdue University Studies, 1963.

Kriebel, Robert C. Midas of the Wabash: a biography of John Purdue Purdue University

Press, 2002

Vertical file: Journal & Courier “Resolutions on the Life and work of Professor George

Wesley Munro, 1872-1964”

The Purdue Alumnus v.14, Jan. 1927.

Note Author: Susan Calvert

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