Harvey Seeley Mudd

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"Harvey Mudd" redirects here. For the college named after the man, see Harvey Mudd College.
Harvey Seeley Mudd
Harvey seeley mudd.jpg
Born August 30, 1888
Leadville, Colorado, U.S.
Died April 12, 1955(1955-04-12) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California
Other names Harvey Mudd
Occupation mining engineer
Known for eponym of Harvey Mudd College
Spouse(s) Mildred Mudd
Children Henry T. Mudd
Caryll Mudd Sprague
Parent(s) Seeley W. Mudd
Della Mullock Mudd
Relatives Norman F. Sprague, Jr. (son-in-law)
Seeley G. Mudd (brother)
Victoria Nebeker Coberly (daughter-in-law)

Harvey Seeley Mudd (30 August 1888– 12 April 1955) was a mining engineer and founder, investor, and president of Cyprus Mines Corporation, a Los Angeles–based international enterprise that operated copper mines on the island of Cyprus.[1] The science and engineering college Harvey Mudd College was named in memory of him. He was also a vice president of the Board of Trustees for the California Institute of Technology.[2]

His father, Colonel Seeley W. Mudd, was also a mining engineer. In 1907 he developed the Ray mine in Arizona, which is still in production.

Harvey S. Mudd is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California.

Early life[edit]

Harvey Mudd was born in Leadville, Colorado, in 1888. Mudd's father, Colonel Seeley W. Mudd, was the manager of the Small Hopes silver mine in Leadville. Mudd's mother was Della Mullock Mudd.

Harvey Mudd had a younger brother, Seeley G. Mudd (1895–1968), who became a physician and cancer researcher at the California Institute of Technology. Seeley G. Mudd was later professor and dean at the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.[3]

In 1902, Col. Seeley Mudd moved his family to Los Angeles, California,[4] where Col. Mudd worked as a consulting engineer for the Guggenheim Exploration Company.[5]

Harvey Mudd attended Stanford University for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University. He received a degree in mining engineering in 1912.[4]

Mining career[edit]

Mudd and his father founded the Cyprus Mines Corporation in 1916. The Los Angeles–based enterprise started with development of the copper mines on the island of Cyprus.[6]

In ancient times, Cyprus was famous for its copper (the Greek word for Cyprus is Kupros, which means copper). However, at the time the Mudds began the Cyprus Mines Corp., copper had not been mined on Cyprus for almost 1500 years.[7] With the backing of Colonel Seeley Mudd, geologist Charles Godfrey Gunther began a long and finally successful search for new copper on Cyprus. However, twenty years passed before the Cyprus Mines Corp. paid its first dividends in 1936.[7]

In 1918, Mudd became president of Cyprus Mines Corporation.[4] Mudd became chairman of Cyprus Mines in 1926 when his father died.[8] As head of Cyprus Mines, Harvey Mudd developed and managed copper mines in the Mediterranean, as well as an iron mine in Peru and oil properties in the United States.[4]

At the time of Harvey Mudd's death in 1955, the company's copper mines on Cyprus had become the island's largest industry, exporting nearly a million tons of copper a year. Mudd's copper mines on Cyprus supported 2,000 of the island's inhabitants and provided more than 25 percent of the island's entire annual revenue. Cyprus Mines paid its employees 15–20 percent above the island average. The company ran an up-to-date, 65-bed hospital for its employees, built scores of low-cost houses for them to live in, and helped to run schools, sports clubs, welfare centers, and summer camps for their families.[7]

Mudd served as president of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers in 1945.[4][9] In 1949, the Columbia University Engineering School Alumni Association awarded him its Egleston Medal for distinguished engineering achievement.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Harvey Mudd's wife was Mildred E. Mudd (1891–1958). They had two children: Henry T. Mudd (1913–1990) and Caryll Mudd Sprague (1914–1978).[10] Caryll Mudd's husband was Norman F. Sprague, Jr. (1914–1997), a medical doctor. Henry Mudd succeeded his father as head of the Cyprus Mines Corporation.[8]

In 1939, Time magazine described Mildred Mudd as "Tall, dark, [and] slender." Time further described Mrs. Mudd as "a typical society matron, noted for her large & lavish parties, her charitable activities, [and] her ancient Roman jewelry (dug up in Cyprus)."[11] Mildred Mudd became involved with the Girl Scouts in 1934 at the recommendation of Lou Henry Hoover, the wife of former U.S. President Herbert Hoover. In the next five years, Mildred Mudd was able to double the Girl Scout enrollment in Los Angeles.[11] Mildred Mudd served as the national president of the Girl Scouts 1939–1941.[12]

Mildred Mudd was elected as the first chairman of the Board of Trustees of Harvey Mudd College, serving from 1955 until 1958.[13] Mildred Mudd died in 1958 at the age of 67.[12]

Harvey Mudd lived in Beverly Hills on Benedict Canyon Drive. The Tudor style residence was designed for Charles Boldt, owner of the Ohio-based Boldt Glass Co. that produced the popular Mason jars,[14] by architect Elmer Grey in 1922. The residence is on an acre of land with seven bedrooms and a swimming pool. In 2008, the house was listed for sale at a price of $11.495 million. The historic property is known as the Harvey Mudd Estate. As of October 2013, this house is for sale again, asking price is $19.99 million.[15]

Civic leadership[edit]

At the time of Mudd's death, he was Chairman of the Board of the Southern California Symphony Association, the Welfare Federation of Los Angeles, and Greater Los Angeles Plans, Inc. He was a trustee and former president of the Southwest Museum, a member of the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and member of the advisory committee of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. He was also Chairman of the Board of Fellows of Claremont College.[4]

As Chairman of the Southern California Symphony Association, Mudd is credited with saving the Los Angeles Philharmonic.[16] Fellow copper baron William Andrews Clark, Jr. had founded the Philharmonic in 1919, but he had exhausted his fortune supporting the orchestra. To oversee the Philharmonic, the Southern California Symphony Association was created in 1933 with Mudd as chairman.[16] Mudd personally guaranteed the salary of conductor Otto Klemperer. Mudd led fundraising efforts to enable the Philharmonic to continue performing through the Great Depression.[16] Mudd is also credited with starting the Philharmonic's tradition of taking the stuffiness out of high culture.[16]

He was initiated as an honorary member of the Beta Psi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music, in 1941.


Mudd became a member of the Board of Trustees for the California Institute of Technology in 1929.[4] He served on both the finance committee and the executive committee.[4] He later served as Vice President of the Board of Trustees.[2][4]

In 1954, Caltech faculty member Linus Pauling, upon winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry, sent Mudd a letter thanking Mudd and the Caltech Board of Trustees for "providing here an atmosphere, second to none in the world, that is favorable to research."[17]

Mudd's will left $50,000 to Caltech for research on the genesis of ore deposits.[2][4]

Two geology buildings at Caltech are named for Harvey Mudd's family: the Seeley G. Mudd Building (South Mudd) is named for his brother, and the Seeley W. Mudd Laboratory (North Mudd) is named for their father.[18]

Harvey Mudd College[edit]

Mudd had a particular interest in The Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California. He served as Chairman of the Board of Fellows of Claremont College, now The Claremont Graduate University and University Center, for a quarter of a century. Harvey Mudd helped in the founding of Claremont McKenna College in 1945.[8] He helped to plan Claremont's new undergraduate college of science and engineering that was chartered in 1955, shortly after his death.[6]

After Harvey Mudd's death in 1955, his friends proposed to his widow, Mildred Mudd, that the planned college be named for Harvey Mudd. She agreed, and helped support the founding.[8] The new college was founded later that year. Harvey Mudd College would award degrees in science and engineering, but require a breadth of understanding in the humanities and the social sciences.[6]

Harvey Mudd's widow and family contributed $2 million to endow Harvey Mudd College.[19]


Mudd died of a heart attack on April 12, 1955, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 66 years old.[4] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.[20]