‘From the Hell’s Brew of Malice, Hatred, and Vindictiveness’: The 1906 Investigation of George E. Ladd, Director of the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy


The subject of the article, Dr. George E. Ladd, was the sixth director of the Missouri School of Mines (MSM). Although he had no degrees in mining or metallurgy, he had earned a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard College and had managed the Massachusetts stone and mineral exhibit for the 1893 World’s Fair. When he took the MSM job, he was serving as the assistant geologist at the Georgia Geological Survey. Gragg describes him as brash and arrogant, but at the same time, an effective leader who took MSM to the next level academically and with brick and mortar additions to the campus when Rolla was a town with less than 2,000 residents and no running water.

Gragg explores how Ladd’s efforts to transform MSM into a first-rate technological institution created powerful enemies in Rolla and across the state that ultimately led to a contentious, political investigation designed to unseat him. Along the way there were secret meetings, fist fights and a mock funeral oration. The results of the investigative committee’s work were sent to Missouri Gov. Joseph W. Folk who left Ladd’s fate in the hands of the University of Missouri’s board of curators.

Gragg’s article on Ladd is his first to appear in Missouri Historical Review. His article is based on new research subsequent to his newly released book, Forged in Gold: Missouri S&T’s First 150 Years, his 10th published book


History and Political Science

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

Oct 2020

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