Leonard Carmichael Papers, 1898-1973


Date: Circa 1917-1973 | Size: 183 Linear feet, ca. 180,000 items


Leonard Carmichael was a psychologist whose most significant contributions were made in the fields of child psychology and biopsychology. Educated at Tufts and Harvard, he taught at Princeton, Brown, and Rochester, later returning to Tufts to serve as its President from 1938-1952. An outstanding administrator, Carmichael served as executive officer for the Smithsonian Institute from 1952-1964, and was subsequently vice president for research and exploration at the National Geographic Society. In his later years, he served as President of the American Philosophical Society from 1970-1973. This large and varied collection reflects the entire range of Carmichael's prolific career. It includes a variety of types of records, including correspondence, committee reports and records, long series of articles and speeches, drafts of papers and books, and pocket notebooks. All phases of his professional life are covered, from his years in academia, to his time at the Smithsonian Institute and the National Geographic Society, as well as his involvement in a large number of professional organizations.

Background note

Leonard Carmichael was born November 9, 1898 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. His parents were Thomas Harrison Carmichael, a physician, and Emily Henrietta Leonard Carmichael, a graduate of Wellesley College. His maternal grandfather, Charles Hall Leonard, was Dean of the Crane Theological School of Tufts University, a fact that presages Carmichael's long association with that university.

Trained as a psychologist in the early years of this field, he also pursued research in zoology and biology. Carmichael's greatest contributions were in the areas of child psychology and biopsychology, with a special emphasis on the importance of genetic determinants of behavior. He was educated at Tufts (B.S., 1920) and Harvard (Ph.D., 1924) and taught at Princeton (1924-1926), Brown (1926-1936), and Rochester (1936-1938). During his time at Brown, he collaborated with Herbert Jasper in the earliest EEG studies in this country. He was president of Tufts University from 1938-1952, where he was simultaneously Director of the Laboratory of Sensory Physiology and Psychology. In 1946, he published his Manual of Child Psychology, which is considered a milestone in the scientific treatment of human development. The fourteen years he spent at Tufts were a time of great expansion in facilities, finances, and enrollment. One of his most important jobs was guiding the University's activities through the WWII time period.

Carmichael left Tufts in 1952 to become the executive officer of the Smithsonian Institute, a position he held until 1964. During his tenure there, he was responsible for the modernization of what was called the "nation's attic." Under his leadership, the Institute greatly expanded, with the creation of the Museum of History and Technology, and the addition of two wings to the Museum of Natural History. He left that position to become Vice President for Research and Exploration for the National Geographic Society. During his time in this position, the Society sponsored a great deal of exciting and ground-breaking research, including the Leakeys' anthropological studies in East Africa, Jane Goddall's work on primate behavior, and the underwater explorations of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Carmichael was active in a number of professional organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association of Museums. During World War II he headed the National Roster of Scientific and Specialized Personnel, which recruited scientists and engineers for the war, and later he was Chairman of the Army Scientific Advisory Panel (on Manpower). Carmichael served as chairman of the Division of Anthropology and Psychology of the National Research Council, and he was also a member and chairman of the advisory board of the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology. He served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1940. The honor of which he was said to be the most proud, however, was his election to the American Philosophical Society in 1942. He served as the President of the Society from 1970 until a few months before his death. Carmichael died September 16, 1973 in Washington, D.C.

The Carmichael Auditorium at the National Museum of History and Technology was dedicated in his name in 1974. But perhaps an even more fitting indication of the lasting impact he made is the Leonard Carmichael Society, still an active volunteer organization at Tufts University. Started in 1958 by Richard Dorsay, it originally consisted of a group of students who would make regular visits to a nearby mental hospital. In the year 2000, it has a volunteer corps of over 1000, a staff of 85, and serves as an umbrella organization for 40 different programs which focus on such issues as homelessness, health, literacy, and youth mentoring. The Leonard Carmichael Society states that "The legacy that this elegant, wise and kind man built throughout his 75 years grows and expands every time Tufts students, faculty members, and staff members join LCS in the belief that they too can change the world."

Scope and content

This voluminous collection reflects the varied and prolific career of Carmichael. It includes a variety of types of records, including correspondence, committee reports and records, long series of articles and speeches, drafts of papers and books, and pocket notebooks (ca. 500 pp.). Significant and more voluminous material consists of series relating to professional organizations of which he was a member or officer. These include: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association of Museums, American Council of Education, American Psychological Association, Brookings Institution, College Entrance Examination Board, Committee of New England, Educational Testing Service, National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, National Science Foundation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

There is significant material for the Tufts period, post 1938, including reports, committee meetings, and correspondence. There are similar types of material for his student years at Harvard; and his teaching time at Princeton and Brown, but less material for his time at the University of Rochester. There is also material on the Society for Research in Child Development. Outside the academic world he functioned in various capacities, all producing significant series within his papers. There is a great deal of materials for his period at the Smithsonian Institution, but less for his tenure at the National Geographic Society.

There is a sizable group of material for the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory at Bar Harbor, Maine, and also for his work as an editorial adviser for psychology at Houghton Mifflin Company. Of further note are the over 150 folders concerning animals, from antelope to zebra, which present his research into their development and behavior. Also of significance is the material on the use of motion pictures in psychology. Lastly are the eleven bound volumes of papers written by Carmichael's psychology students at Brown and Rochester University from 1932-1938. These are grouped under the subject headings: Audition, Emotion, Endocrinology, Learning, The Lower Senses, Perception, Response, Thought and Language and Vision.

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information


Presented by the estate of Dr. Carmichael, 1974.

Preferred citation

Cite as: Leonard Carmichael Papers, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Recataloged by Alison M. Lewis, 2001.

Related material

Tufts University has 8.75 linear feet of documents primarily relating to Carmichael's tenure (1938-1952) as President of that institution.


Corner, George W. "Leonard Carmichael (1898-1973)," American Philosophical Society, Yearbook 1974.

Pfaffmann, Carl, "Leonard Carmichael: November 9, 1898-September 16, 1973," Biographical Memoirs NAS, Vol. 51. (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1980).

Physiology, Biochemistry, and Biophysics Note

Scholars of physiology, biochemistry, or biophysics may find the following of interest:

Cohn, Edwin J. (Edwin Joseph), 1892-1953Correspondence (1 item)1953English

Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • American Association of Museums
  • American Council on Education
  • American Psychological Association
  • Brookings Institute
  • Brown University
  • Educational Testing Service.
  • Harvard University. Museum of Comparative Zoology
  • Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Laboratory of Sensory Physiology and Psychology
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • National Geographic Society
  • National Research Council (U.S.). Division of Anthropology and Psychology
  • National Roster of Scientific and Specialized Personnel
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Princeton University
  • Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory.
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Tufts University
  • U.S. Army. Scientific Advisory Panel
  • University of Rochester
  • Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology, Inc

Personal Name(s)

  • Abel, Theodora Mead, 1899-1998
  • Adams, James P. (James Pickwell), 1895-1969
  • Allport, Gordon W. (Gordon Willard), 1897-1967
  • Angulo y González, Armando Wandegército, b. 1900
  • Arnold, Frederic Bartlett, Sir
  • Arnold, Samuel Tomlinson, 1892-1956
  • Bayne-Jones, Stanhope, 1888-1970
  • Beck, Lester F. (Lester Fred), 1909-1977
  • Beebe-Center, John G. (John Gilbert), 1897-1958
  • Boring, Edwin Garrigues, 1886-1968
  • Bray, Charles W. (Charles William), 1904-1982
  • Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974
  • Carmichael Leonard, 1898-1973
  • Cattell, James McKeen, 1860-1944
  • Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1978
  • Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981
  • Craig, Wallace
  • Cruikshank, Ruth M.
  • Dallenbach, Karl M., 1887-1971
  • Ducasse, Curt John, 1881-1969
  • Fernberger, Samuel Weiller, 1887-1956
  • Gates, Louise W.
  • Gilbert, Roger
  • Goldfarb, Alvin I.
  • Guthrie, Edwin R. (Edwin Ray), 1886-1959
  • Haskins, Caryl P. (Caryl Parker), 1908-2001
  • Hooker, Davenport
  • Hull, Clark Leonard, , 1884-1952
  • Hunter, Walter Samuel, 1889-19
  • Kennedy, John L.
  • Koffka, Kurt, 1886-1941
  • Kuo, Zing Yang, 1898-1970
  • Langfeld, Herbert Sidney
  • Lashley, Karl Spencer, 1890-1958
  • Marshall, Laurence K.
  • McFarland, Ross Armstrong, 1901-1976
  • Morey, Robert
  • Munn, Norman Leslie
  • Murchison, Carl Allanmore
  • Onassis, Jacqueline Kennedy, 1929-1994
  • Pfaffmann, Carl
  • Pollock, Martha C.
  • Pratt, Carroll C. (Carroll Cor
  • Roberts, S. Oliver
  • Schlosberg, Harold, 1904-1964
  • Skinner, B. F. (Burrhus Fredric), 1904-1990
  • Warren, Howard C. (Howard Cros
  • Wendt, George Richard, 1906-1977
  • Wilson, E. Bright (Edgar Bright), 1908-1992
  • Windle, William Frederick
  • Woodworth, Robert Sessions, 1869-1962
  • Yerkes, Robert Mearns, 1876-1956


  • Behavior science
  • Biology
  • Child development.
  • Endocrinology
  • Perception
  • Psychology
  • Scientists in World War I
  • Zoology

Detailed Inventory

Leonard Carmichael Papers
ca. 1917-1973 box 1
Abbey, David S.
Abbott, C. D.
Abbot, Charles Greeley
Garber, Paul E
Ripley, S. Dillon
Menzel, Donald H
Abbott, Donald G
Abbott, Everett
Abbott, Frederic E., Rev.
Abbott, Preston S.
Abbott, R Tucker
Abel, Theodora M
Abelson, Philip H.
Abramson, Harold A
Academic Career Rejections
Fernberger, Samuel W
Titchener, E B
Givler, Robert Chenault
Cousens, John A
Holmes, Henry W
Allport, Floyd H
Richtmyer, F K
Gill, R C
Kruse, P J
Works, George A
Dearborn, Walter H
Sanderson, Dwight
Payne, Bruce R
Miner, J B
Adams, J P
Ogden, R M
Neilson, W A
Spaulding, F E
Boring, E G
Moore, Clifford H
Murchison, Carl
Mead, A D
Langfeld, Herbert S
Academic Costume
Academic Honors,
Academic Honors,
Academic Honors,
Academic Press
Bittig, Carol H
Academic Standing - Committee on
Academy of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Academy of Political Science
Accokeek Foundation
Perez, Gabriel Garcia
Ach, N
Achilles, Paul S
Achilles, Theodore Carter
Acker, John Edward
Ackerman, Arthur W
Ackerman, Robert E
Acta Psychologica Keijo
Acton, Gladys
Adams, Arthur S
Adams, C R
Adams, Donald K
Adams, E James
Baker, Robert C
Adams, Henry F
Adams, Howard
Adams, J W
Adams, James P
Adams, Mrs. James P
Adams, John P
Adams, Joseph P
Adams, Lois
Adams, Mrs. Rachel
Adams, Raymond D
Adams, Russell B
Adam's Rib Restaurant
Faraclas, John E
Adenauer, Konrad
Adkins, Dorothy C
Adler, Helmut E
Aero Club of Washington
Adams, Joseph P
Aerospace Medical Ass'n.
Aesthetics and Psychology
Goodrich, Lloyd
African Research and Development Co., Inc.
Afshar, H K
Agriculture in New England
Aguas, A. de Oliveira
Aguirre, Emiliano, S J
Aibs Education Review
Aiken, Herbert Austin
Ainsworth, Mrs. Roy C
Air Force Association
Air Force Museum
Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc.
McKnew, Thomas W
McConnell, J P
Grant, L J
Grosvenor, M B
Kettering, E W
Airlie Foundation
Akeley, Carl
Salseth, David K
Dr. Payne
Akers, Floyd D
Akin, Ted M
Akre, Charles T
Alabama, University of
Thompson, James A
Alaska Geographical Society
Alba, Jaime
Albright, Alan B (Caribbean Research Institute)
Albright, Alan B (C.R.I.)
Albright, William Foxwell
Albright, Mrs. William F
Alcoa Seaprobe
Hobbs, F Worth
Snider, Ed
Alden Foundation, Inc. (Mrs. Bonnie Alden Phillips)
Aldine Publishing Company
Aldred, F D
Aldred, F W
Aldrich, Emma B
Aldrich, Mrs. Helen M
Aldrich Chemical Company, Inc.
Alee, W C
Alexander, Charles P
Alexander, D D
Alexander, Edward P
Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Commission
Alfalfa Club
Bredin, J Bruce
Trew, Shirley M
Dinner Ctte., Alfalfa Club
Bell, William T
Walters, Velma I
Gardner, John W
Beers, Thomas M
Oliphant, S Parker
Mr. Sanders
Brown, J Carter
Weber, C Swan
Jennings, Lewellyn A
Alfred University
Algonquin Club of Boston
Mock, Harold A
Thompson, Cameron
Haller, Julius F
Manager, Algonquin Club
Kittredge, Wheaton
Ali-Aba-Cle Review
Allen, Betty
Allen, Clarence E
Allen, Faith
Allen, Mary K
Allen, Myron S
Allen, R D
Varney, Charles E
Wish, Fred D, Jr.
Gentry, C B
Nooton, F C
Verdlanck, F A
MacBride, Bessie
Young, Edward S
Haggard, Roy S
White, Helen M
Allen, Robert F, Jr.
Reymers, Lynda A
Allentwon Art Museum
Allgrove, Arthur Eames
Alliance in Art
Kreeger, Mrs. David Lloyd
Allighan, Garry
Allport, Floyd H
Allport, Gordon W
Alpert, George
Alpert, Richard
Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
Alschbach, Philip A
Alter, Chester M
Althin, Torsten
Marbach, Ruth Ann
Altiere, Edward S A
Altman, Joseph
Altmann, Stuart
Alyea, Hubert N
Amalaraj, A
Amazon Research Center
Ambassador Club
Ambrosia, Sister
Amen, Elisabeth W
America - Israel Society
Cassidy, George
America's Young Men
Howes, Durward
Amer. Ass'n Advancement of Sci.
McGeoch, John A
Ward, Henry B
Anderson, John E
Woodley, Samuel
Dashiell, John F
Dunlap, Knight
Gray, William S
Hargan, James
Miles, Walter R
Ingraham, Mark H
Anderson, John E
Dwight, Charles A S
Johnson, H M
Watkins, Ralph J
Buswell, G T
Hull, Clark L
Gates, Arthur I
Allport, F H
Davis, Charles
Porter, James P
Shepherd, William T
Wickland, Carl A
Woodrow, Herbert
Riddell, Newton
Wagner, Mazie Earle
Fernald, Grace M
Blakeslee, Albert F
Thorndike, Edward L
Root, William T
Schoen, Max
Hunter, Walter S
Richards, T W
Blakely, Clarence L
Am. Assoc. Adv. of Sci. Annual Meeting
Adams, Arthur S
Taylor, Raymond L
Brode, Wallace R
Emery, Alden H
Lindsay, G Carroll
Dunn, R Roy
Stephens, Thomas E
Killian, James R
Eisenhower, Dwight David
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Ball, Mabel Frothingham
Davis, Tenney L
Campbell, C Macfie
Boring, E G
Lewis, C I
Davis, T L
Clark, Walter Eugene
Oleson, Alexandra
Branch, Claude R
Sutherland, Arthur E
Mead, Leonard C
Voss, John
Hoagland, Hudson
Wilson, Edwin B
Edsall, John T
Phillips, Henry B
Romer, Alfred S
Holton, Gerald
Land, Edwin H
American Academy of Arts and Sciences -- Nominations an New Memberships
Brewer, George F
Burhoe, Ralph W
Wessell, Nils Y
Greene, William C
Burchard, John Ely
Wilson, Edwin B
Harrison, George R
Hoagland, Hudson
Stewart, Robert B
Sachar, Abram Leon
Land, Edwin H
American Academy of Neurology
Bailey, Pearce
Imus, Henry A
Swedien, Thomas D
American Academy of Political and Social Science
American Airlines
American Art League, Inc.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Godfrey, Kneeland A., Jr.
Deason, Hilary J
Trew, Shirley
Campbell, Louise
Backstrom, James R
Wolfle, Dael
Abelson, Philip H
Burtt, Harold E
McGill, Thomas E
Seeger, Raymond J
Branscomb, Lewis M
Henderson, Mr.
Butler, James C
Wolff, Kathryn
Deason, Hilary J
Sommer, Richard G
Reymers, Lynda A
McGeoch, John A
Anderson, John E
Woodley, Sam
Watkins, Ralph
Cattell, James McKeen
Gray, William S
Booth, Windsor Peyton
Cantrell, Lawson J
Taylor, Raymond L
Dunn, R Roy
Siddons, F P H
Oehser, Paul H
Owen, Ed W
Du Shane, Graham
Klopsteg, Paul E
Behnke, John A
Dearborn, Walter
Waterman, Mrs. Alan T
Leake, Chauncey D
Billman, Carl
Berry, William
Robinson, E S
Ward, Henry B
Keller, Fred S
Bills, Arthur G
Ogden, Robert M
Shipton, W D
Ingraham, Mark H
Miles, Walter R
Ruckmick, Christian A
Dallenbach, Karl M
Roos, Mary M
Stone, Calvin P
Tucker, A C
Woodrow, Herbert
Wheeler, Raymond H
Darrow, Chester W
Thorndike, Edward L
Boder, David P
Nafe, John Paul
Higginson, G D
Blakeslee, Albert F
Freeman, Frank N
Ledgerwood, Richard
Elliott, R M
Gilliland, A R
Reed, H B
Stroud, J B
Whitely, Paul L
Cole, Lawrence W
Conklin, E S
Hoisington, L B
Lanier, Lyle H
Miner, J B
Rexroad, Carl N
Robinson, M F
Waters, R H
Stone, Calvin P
Cason, Hulsey
Dingwall, Ewen C
Mitchell, James M
American Association of Geographers
American Association of Museums
Patterson, Joseph Allen
Mr. Payne
Alderson, William T
Barney, Laura D
Hammond, Frank H
Pringle, George H
Bittig, Carol H
Yecies, Susan M
McGrath, Kyran M
Brown, James M III
Bentley, Mr.
Alexander, Edward P
Coleman, Laurence Vail
Bookstein, Irving
McDaniel, Joseph M, Jr.
Jones, Louis C
Mauzy, Wayne L
Rainey, Froelich
Grobman, Arnold B
Heinrich, Theodore Allen
Hatt, Robert T
Nagel, Charles
Morley, Grace L McCann
Reed, Gervais
Crouch, Philbrick M
Milliken, William M
Brew, J O
Coffey, Katherine
Zepp, Erwin C
Watson, Thomas, Jr.
Hammond, Frank H
Taube, Mortimer
Copeland, Mrs. Lammot Du Pont
Lloyd, George W
Herzog, Henry W
Harris, Paul S
Kingman, Eugene
Rodney, James D
Crittenden, Christopher
Dulles, John Foster
Herdeck, Donald E
McCardle, Carl W
Stout, George L
Grobman, Arnold B
Morley, Grace L MCCann
Burton, E Milby
Netting, M Graham
Welch, Robert C
Zamoshkin, A
Smith, James Kellum
Hatch, John Davis, Jr.
Mather, Kirtley F
Romer, Alfred S
Dorra, Henri
Turnham, Mrs. Alice J
Brown, Henry D
Fuller, Richard E
Still, John S
Finley, David E
Nixon, Richard M
Lever, Michael
Buckley, Charles E
Montgomery, Charles F
Kingman, Eugene
Bridaham, Lester B
Vail, R W G
Hatch, John Davis, Jr.
Easby, Dudley T, Jr.
Roberts, H Radclyffe
Cairns, Huntington
Adams, E James
American Association of Museums - Committee on Feasibility of 5-Year Plan for Annual Meetings
American Association of School Administration
American Association of State Psychology Boards
Terris, Lillian D
American Association of University Professors
Adams, C R
Damon, L T
Himstead, Ralph E
American Association of University Women
American Atheists, Inc.
American Book Company
American Book Publishers Council, Inc.
American Business and Professional Trust
American College Bureau
American Committee to Preserve Abu Simbel
McCullough, Max.
American Council for Higher Education
Wilson, Logan
Dobbins, Charles G
American Council on Education
Zook, George F
Miller, George S
Conant, James Bryant
Brown, Francis J
McGrath, Earl J
Fuller, Edgar
Johnson, Louis
Walters, Raymond
McDonald, Ralph
Brumbaugh, A J
Tolley, William P
Day, E E
Donovan, H L
Chase, Henry W
Friley, Charles E
Hill, Henry H
Malott, Deane W
Morrill, J L
Robbins, Frank E
Stoddard, George D
Horton, Mildred McA
Fine, Benjamin
Howes, Raymond P
Cahill, George A
Davidson, Carter
Little, Dr. J. Kenneth
Adams, Arthur S
Toepelman, W C
Lunden, L R
Minutes of Meetings, [Ctte. on Relationships of Higher Education to the Fed. Gov't.]
February 5 and March 5, 1971. 
Waterman, Alan T
Mather, J Paul
Morrill, J L
Howes, Raymond F
Wann, Harry A
Thackrey, Russell I
Distler, Theodore A
Howes, R H
Anderson, Hurst R
Broughton, Robert W
Stone, Donald C
Hussey, Fred G
Wilson, Logan
West, Elmer D
Dobbins, Charles G
Boozer, Howard R
Hauck, Arthur A
Reed, Robert H
American Elsevier Publishing Company
American Engineer
American Enterprise Institute
American Ethnological Society, Inc.
Lesser, Alexander
American Federation of Arts
Pope, John A
Prior, Harris K
American Federation of Teachers
Davis, Jerome
American Foundation for the Blind, Inc.