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Frank L. Mott


Posted By: Volunteer
Date: 5/9/2006 at 06:19:11

Mott, Frank Luther (Apr. 4, 1886 - Oct. 23, 1964), journalist, author, and educator, was born in What Cheer, Iowa, the son of David Charles Mott and Mary E. Tipton. Members of both families were Quakers. Mott's father was a farmer, schoolteacher, and publisher of the What Cheer Patriot, where Mott acquired the virus of printer's ink. He learned to set type by hand when he was eleven. He worked for his father at various weekly newspapers in Iowa, and one in Oklahoma. After graduating from the Indianola, Iowa, High School in 1903, he enrolled in Simpson College there. Three years later he transferred to the University of Chicago, where he received a Ph.B. in 1907. The same year he also received a B.A. from Simpson College. On Oct. 7, 1910, he married Vera Hortense Ingram; they had one daughter.

In 1914 Mott purchased the Grand Junction (Iowa) Globe, but after three years he decided to make teaching his career. He sold the newspaper and enrolled at Columbia University, New York City, where he earned his M.A. in 1919 and his Ph.D. in 1924. He was an assistant professor of English at Simpson College (1919-1921) and an assistant professor at the University of Iowa (1921-1925), where he was also coeditor (1925-1933) of the Midland magazine, a literary publication.

In 1927 Mott was offered the position of dean of the University of Washington, which prompted the University of Iowa to appoint him director of its School of Journalism that year. In 1929 he was elected president of the American Association of Schools and Departments of Journalism, and from 1930 to 1934 he edited the Journalism Quarterly. He collaborated with Ralph Casey of the University of Minnesota in editing Interpretations of Journalism (1937).

During this period Mott worked on his monumental History of American Magazines. The first volume was published by Appleton in 1930. The second and third volumes, published by the Harvard University Press in 1938, won Mott the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1939. The fourth volume, A History of American Magazines, 1885-1905 (1957), which won the Bancroft Prize of Columbia University in 1958, is an authoritative work and is probably Mott's most significant contribution to American journalism history. The fifth volume was published posthumously in 1968.

Mott also edited Headlining America (1937-1940), a collection of the best newspaper stories of the year. His American Journalism: A History 1690-1940 appeared in 1941. A year later, when the University of Missouri decided to upgrade the research program of its School of Journalism, Mott was named dean. After World War II he obtained a seven months leave of absence to serve as an "expert in journalism training" at the Biarritz American University in France. In April 1947 he served in a similar post in Japan.

After his retirement in 1951, Mott founded, with Paul Fisher, the Press of the Crippled Turtle. Under the heading Oldtime Comments on Journalism, the first issue appeared in January 1953. Ten issues, each limited to 250 copies, appeared from 1953 to 1960.

Mott's prolific writing amazed all who knew him. Asked how he could accomplish so much, he replied: "I never play bridge." He wrote many short stories and one novel. The Saturday Evening Post published his short story "The Phantom Flivver" on Jan. 28, 1950. Time Enough: Essays in Autobiography appeared in 1962.

Mott was primarily a researcher and writer. As head of the journalism schools, he left the administration largely to others. He died in Columbia, Mo.

source - Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 7, 1961-1965. American Council of Learned Societies, 1981.


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