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Lee, Claudius, 1872-1962



  • Existence: 1872 - 1962

Biographical Note

Claudius Lee was born on May 30, 1872 in Culpeper Court House, Virginia. He worked at his father's mill and also served as an apprentice to a gunsmith in Danville. He studied at Lafayette College (Pennsylvania) before being brought to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) to establish the college's physics laboratory while furthering his own education. Graduating with a degree in electrical engineering in 1896, Lee is credited with installing Blacksburg's first telephone switchboard and bringing an electric lighting system to the campus and town. He devised controls to regulate all the college bells and was the university's timekeeper from December 1893 to 1956.

Lee served as superintendent of the campus power plant from 1899 to 1907, and as local manager of the Virginia and Tennessee Telephone Company from 1900 to 1909. He became a professor in 1914. From 1917 to 1919, Lee served in the U. S. Army as a captain of ordnance. Following World War I, he returned to Blacksburg and headed the electrical engineering department from 1919 to 1936. In all, Lee served the college in various capacities for 69 years. The subjects which he taught included telephony, telegraphy, direct and alternating current.

Among the many campus, community and professional organizations in which Lee was involved are the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the YMCA, Phi Kappa Phi, National Society of Professional Engineers, American Society of Engineering Education, Virginia Academy of Science, Virginia Education Association, Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi. He was a trustee of the Blacksburg Methodist Church, in which his wife was also an active member.

Lee married Sarah Theresa "Rissie" Otey (born October 14, 1874) on October 24, 1902. After their only son, John Henry, died in 1933, the Lees reared Robert and Duval Schultz and Douglas E. Williams. Claudius Lee died December 16, 1962.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Claudius Lee Papers, 1887-1954 (Ms1961-002)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1961-002

Claudius Lee Papers

Identifier: Ms-1961-002

The collection contains correspondence, photographs, and miscellaneous materials relating to the personal life and university and military service of Claudius Lee, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Dates: 1887 - 1954

Portrait of Kendall Weisiger

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1961-002_WeisigerKendall

Additional filters:

Digital Record 2
Collection 1
University Archives 1