MC 00018 Guide to the Ira B. Mullis Papers, 1925-1964

The Mullis Papers are organized into five series as follows: Correspondence, Professional Writings, Research Notes, Road Compacting Equipment Promotional Material, and Miscellaneous.
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Mullis' correspondence is almost entirely of a professional nature as even the most personal items contain mention of his career or publications. Included in this series are items such as internal reports from the Bureau of Public Roads, extensive biographical outlines, letters to North Carolina representatives and senators and engineering faculty members at North Carolina College. An extensive correspondence, written from 1939-1942, with Robert G. Lassiter of Southern Aggregates and Joseph Hyde Pratt, a well known professor of geology and engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, details Mullis' attempts to obtain a cooperative placement at North Carolina State College under the auspices of the Bureau of Public Roads and the Department of Engineering. Almost all outgoing correspondence is in the form of typewritten carbon copies, while incoming correspondence is in the form of signed originals. Some third party correspondence is also present in this series.
[Box 1, Folder 1] Correspondence, 1925 - 1937
[Box 1, Folder 2] Soil Testing Data, Kansas, 1934 - 1937
[Box 1, Folder 3] Soil Testing Data, Nebraska, 1935, Aug. - Nov.
[Box 1, Folder 4] Miscellaneous Soil Testing Data, no date
[Box 1, Folder 5] 2 Maps, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Weather Bureau, no date
[Box 1, Folder 6] Correspondence, 1939, Jan. 18 - Dec. 20
[Box 1, Folder 7] Correspondence, 1940, Jan. 3 - Dec. 11
[Box 1, Folder 8] Correspondence, 1941, Jan. 10 - Aug. 30
[Box 1, Folder 9] Correspondence, 1941, Sept. 7 - Dec. 3
[Box 1, Folder 10] Correspondence, 1942, Oct. 2 - June 7
[Box 1, Folder 11] Correspondence, 1951, Jan. 12 - 1961, Jan. 23
[Box 1, Folder 12] Biographical Sketch, 1939
Mullis' professional writings, including reports and articles, published and unpublished, from ca. 1939 to 1964. these represent Mullis career as a professional road engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads until January of 1942 when he entered the private sector as a consulting engineer for Southern Aggregates and Pratt, Lassiter and Watkins, a Raleigh NC based engineering firm for which he worked until retiring in 1956. Sizable amounts of correspondence, especially professional responses and congratulations from friends and family, accompany two published papers: Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds February (1939) and Properties of Roadbeds (1963).
[Box 2, Folder 1] A Method of Evaluating Roadbeds, 1935, Feb. 14
[Box 2, Folder 2] Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, 1937
[Box 2, Folder 3] Correspondence Regarding Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, 1937, Apr. 12 - 1939, Dec. 7
[Box 2, Folder 4] Other Correspondence Regarding Distribution and Receipt of Offprints of Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, 1938, July 25 - 1940, Mar. 29
[Box 2, Folder 5] Roadbed Failures and How to Avert Them, 1939 - 1942
[Box 2, Folder 6] Copies of Discussions Regarding Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, 1939
[Box 2, Folder 7] Edited Copy of Mullis' Final Discussion for Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, 1939, May 24
[Box 2, Folder 8] Correspondence Regarding Distribution and Receipt of Offprints of Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, 1939, Dec. 1 - 1941, Oct. 17
[Box 2, Folder 9] Standards of Compaction, 1941
[Box 2, Folder 10] Report on Aggregates Produced by Seminole Rock and Sand Co., Miami Florida, 1943
[Box 2, Folder 11] Report on Aggregates Produced by South Carolina Granite Co., Blairs, S. C., 1943, Nov. 9
[Box 2, Folder 12] Report on Railroad Ballast, 1943, Nov. 9
[Box 2, Folder 13] Report on Abrasion Losses on Stone from Greystone Quarry Operated by Greystone Granite Quarries, 1944, Aug. 16
[Box 2, Folder 14] Profitable Railroad Ballast, 1944, Aug. 21
[Box 2, Folder 15] Aggregates for Drainage, 1944, Oct. 10
[Box 2, Folder 16] The Value of Codes, Standards, Inspection, and Labels in Industry, 1944, Oct. 27
[Box 2, Folder 17] Economics of Crushed Stone Road Ballast, 1944, Nov. 25
[Box 2, Folder 18] Report on Woodleaf Stone Sands, handwritten by Mullis for Pratt, Lassiter, and Watkins, no date
[Box 2, Folder 19] Photos, Notes, etc. Principles Applying to Highway Roadbeds, no date
[Box 3, Folder 1] A Method of Rock Classification for Road Use, 1951, Sept.
[Box 3, Folder 2] Street Conditions and Construction Methods in the City of Raleigh, N.C., 1951, Sept. 8
[Box 3, Folder 3] Properties of Roadbeds and Bases, 1952, Apr. 4
[Box 3, Folder 4] Norlina - Macon N.C. I -755, 1953, Dec. 3
[Box 3, Folder 5] Report to Charles E. Proudley, Raleigh, N.C. on U.S. 29, no date
[Box 3, Folder 6] Properties Affecting the Strengths of Roadbeds and Bases, 1956
[Box 3, Folder 7] Properties of Roadbeds, 1961, July 16
[Box 3, Folder 8] Closing Discussion on Properties of Roadbeds, 1963, Apr.
[Box 3, Folder 9] Fundamental Principles of the Ideal Roadbed, 1964, Sept.
[Box 3, Folder 10] Soil Cement Mixtures, no date
[Box 3, Folder 11] Historical Roadbuilding Techniques and Materials, no date
[Box 3, Folder 12] Certain Premises Applying to Roadbeds and Construction, no date
[Box 3, Folder 13] Notes on Roadbed Studies, no date
[Box 3, Folder 14] More Notes on Roadbed Studies, no date
These notes pertain to Mullis' professional research and include charts, notes from secondary sources, copies of articles, and listings of principles relevant to the construction of roadbeds.
[Box 3, Folder 15] Handwritten Notes, Principles of Roadbeds, Ira B. Mullis, , no date
[Box 3, Folder 16] Handwritten Notes and Charts, no date
[Box 3, Folder 17] Articles, Catalogues and Publications, no date
[Box 3, Folder 18] Miscellaneous Notes From Secondary Sources on Roadbed Design and Construction, no date
[Box 3, Folder 19] Notes and Tables on Porosity and Sub-Grade Soil Testing Methods, no date
[Box 3, Folder 20] Compaction Studies, Charts, Tables and Graphs, no date
This series contains brochures and photos of equipment including compacting rollers and tractors used in the construction of roadbeds, earthen dams and other types of projects requiring soil compaction.
[Box 3, Folder 21] Letters, Brouchures, and Publicity Photos for Manufacturers of Road Compaction Equipment, no date
[Box 3, Folder 22] Reprint from an Article from the Baptist Student; American Railway Engineer's Association - List of Publications; American for Testing Material - List of Publications, no date


Mullis, Ira B. (Ira Broadis), 1877-1956


1.5 Linear feet 3 archival boxes

General Physical Description note

3 archival boxes


For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Special Collections Research Center Reference Staff external link.



Acquisitions Information

Donated by Ira B. Mullis in 1967 (Accession no. 1967-0001).


Processed by: Joel Mauger and Michael Watts;machine-readable finding aid created by: Michael Watts

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the professional career of Ira B. Mullis as a civil engineer working on road and roadbed design, construction and maintenance from 1925-1964. Correspondence and Professional Writings form the bulk of the collection and provide detailed information about the day to day duties of an engineer working for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in the form of memos, reports, articles, papers and letters, as well as material on his tenure as a consulting engineer for two private Raleigh, N.C. based companies, Southern Aggregates Corporation and Pratt, Lassiter and Watkins. Biographical information can be found in the Correspondence series but the collection contains few items of a strictly personal nature. Other types of materials found in the collection include photographs, blueprints and maps.

Biography Note

Born in Wingate, NC on August 29, 1877, Ira Broadis Mullis spent the whole of his professional career (1904-1956) as a civil engineer engaged in road construction and design. He specialized in the materials, techniques, maintenance and design of roadbeds, bringing to this field a personal interest in geology as well as engineering. Mullis graduated from Wingate College and then attended North Carolina State College, now North Carolina State University, from 1903 to 1904 until the death of his father, and the subsequent financial hardship, forced him to leave without graduating in order to pursue a professional career as a civil engineer.

He spent the early part of his career from 1904-1920 in North Carolina serving as the City Engineer for Lumberton, NC (1910-1913) and, under the direction of Joseph Hyde Pratt, as a Highway Engineer for the North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey (1913-1915) and the North Carolina Highway Commission (1915-1918). From 1920 until 1940, he worked for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads first as a Testing Engineer based in Washington D.C. (1920-1931) and then as a Highway Engineer (1931-1942) based in the Midwest. Mullis' district, District 5, encompassed Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. His duties included the supervision of road and bridge construction in the district, road location and inspection, examination of pavement and roadbed failures and the development of specifications for adequate roadbed compaction. He left the Bureau of Public Roads in January 1942, and moved to Raleigh, N.C. to work for two Raleigh based firms, Southern Aggregates Corporation and the engineering firm of Pratt, Lassiter and Watkins. He retired in 1956 at the age of 79.

Mullis had several papers published in the Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers between 1938 and 1963, and retained a lifelong interest in roadbed design, construction and maintenance. He was married to Annie Duckett Mullis and had one child, a son, Ira Broadis Mullis Jr.

Access to Collection

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Special Collections Research Center
Box 7111
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7111


(919) 515-2273


(919) 513-1787

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ira B. Mullis Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

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