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William McNown Collection

Call Number: RH MS S46


This collection consist of a series of blueprints, maps, and plans, largely of buildings or flood control in the Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas area from work W.C. McNown completed as engineer.


  • Creation: 1896 - 1974


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials

Biography of William C. McNown

William Coleman McNown was born near Mauston, Wisconsin, January 11, 1880. McNown enlisted and saw active service during the Spanish-American War with General Miles' expedition to Puerto Rico during the summer of 1898. In the autumn of 1899 he entered the University of Wisconsin, from which he graduated in 1903 with the degree of Bachelor in Civil Engineering.

After graduation, McNown held positions as civil engineer with the Buffalo division of the Erie Railroad and in the city engineer's office at Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1905 he obtained a position as instructor in civil engineering at Cornell University where he taught for two years. In 1907 he was offered a professorship in civil engineering at Earlham College, in Richmond, Indiana, a position he occupied for two years.

McNown then decided to go into private practice and for four years, 1909-1913, he was engaged in irrigation and highway engineering at Walla Walla, Washington.

In 1913 he took the position of assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. McNown was raised to the rank of associate professor in 1914 and in 1921 became professor of highway engineering. He was a Learned distinguished professor of engineering.

McNown's summers while teaching at KU were spent in various kinds of engineering work. In 1916 he was engineer for the Bismarck Drainage District near Lawrence. During the summer of 1918 he was employed by Black and Veatch on the survey and plans for the improvement of twenty-three miles of the Santa Fe Trail in Pawnee County and by the national government on the extension of the Camp Pike cantonment. In 1919 he held the office of engineer for Sumner County. Other summers were spent in engineering work in the Marais Des Cygnes Valley Drainage District and as city engineer at Eudora.

He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Kansas Engineering Society, and the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education. McNown wrote several magazine articles, chief among which were 'The Use of the Sewage of Walla Walla, Washington, for Irrigation,' Engineering News, 1912; 'The Countour Method of Applying Irrigation Water,' Engineering News 1912; and 'City Planning,' Engineering and Contracting, 1921.

McNown developed a soil cement block that was used in the construction of the Industrial Research Laboratory on the KU campus. McNown was the father of John S. McNown, former dean of the KU School of Engineering and Architecture. William Coleman McNown died December 5, 1965.


40 folders (oversized)

Language of Materials


Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS R402

Related Materials

Personal papers of William C. McNown, PP 5, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Processing Information

Two folders were previously shelved at RH MS Q52.

Guide to the William McNown Collection
William McNown collection
lgg 13 September 1978; revised by tw, 2016.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid writtenin<language> English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
W.C. McNown Collection, RH MS S46, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States