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A Guide to the Karl Spencer Lashley Papers

Finding aid prepared by Dept. Staff

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
March 2005

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Lashley, Karl S. (Karl Spencer), 1890-1958
Title: Karl Spencer Lashley Papers
Dates: 1923-1958
Bulk dates: 1950-1958
Abstract: Correspondence, manuscripts, notes, drawings, and lectures by psychologist and physiologist Karl Lashley.
Extent: 2.25 Linear feet. 5 boxes and 1 volume.
Identification: MS Group 89
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Karl Spencer Lashley was a pioneer in the field of physiological psychology. He was born June 7, 1890, in Davis, West Virginia. He received his A.B. from the University of West Virginia in 1910, his M.S. from Pittsburg in 1911, and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1914. His degrees were all in the field of zoology, although he minored in psychology at Johns Hopkins. At Johns Hopkins, he worked with John B. Watson and the two conducted field research on the homing behavior of terns in the Dry Tortugas. His histological and surgical training took place at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. under Shepard Ivory Franz.

Lashley's academic career began at the University of Minnesota where he conducted research (and taught occasionally) from 1920 to 1926. He was a member of the University of Chicago faculty from 1926 to 1935. In 1935, Lashley was recruited by Harvard and was made research professor in neuropsychology in 1937. In 1942, he succeeded Robert M. Yerkes to head the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology in Orange Park, Florida. Lashley retired from Harvard and Yerkes in 1955. He died on August 7, 1958, in Poitiers, France.

Lashley is best known for his work on learning ability and brain function, visual pattern-perception in rats, and his critique of behavioral theories. His research involved a variety of species, including humans, and he was an early supporter of ethology and comparative psychology. His published works include one monograph, Brain Mechanism and Intelligence (1929) and numerous articles.

Lashley married Edith Ann Baker in 1918. Edith died in 1948. In 1957, Lashley married Claire Imredy Schiller, widow of the Hungarian psychologist Paul Harkai Schiller.

Scope and Content

The Lashley Papers consist primarily of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, drawings, and lectures. There are, as well, some photographs of people and experiments. The correspondence is largely from the last five years of his life. Of special note is the correspondence with John B. Watson and George H. Bishop in which the correspondents reflect on their lives, associations, and theories. The Watson correspondence includes signed letters from Lashley to Watson that were given to Claire Lashley shortly after Watson's death. Also of note are the records related to the Fund for Neurobiology, material on the Yerkes Laboratories, and the correspondence with Kenneth Mark Colby. Part of the latter was published in Behavioral Science (Vol. 2, No. 3, July 1957). The manuscripts, lectures, and notes tend to be more representative of his career, but here, too, the early years are not reflected. Also included is a "Birthday Book" consisting of letters from colleagues, photographs, and memorabilia compiled and bound for his sixtieth birthday in 1950.

Of local interest is his file related to the Jacksonville College of Music to which he gave support. Lashley was an avid musician and occasionally played cello for the Jacksonville Symphony.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Karl Spencer Lashley Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The Lashley Papers are the gift of Christina Schiller Schlusemeyer and Peter H. Schiller.

Contents List


1 Bishop, George H., (Washington Univ.). 1952-1955
1 Colby, Kenneth Mark. 1956-1957
1 Fund for Neurobiology. 1953-1955
1 Fund for Neurobiology. 1958
1 Fund for Neurobiology, Applications for grants. 1955-1957
1 General professional correspondence. 1946-1958
1 Harvard colloquium. 1953
1 Herrick, C. Judson (Photocopies). 1923-1925
1 Jacksonville College of Music. 1952-1955
1 John, E. R., (Univ. of California Medical Center). 1957
1 McEwen, Sara. 1949-1958
1 Misc. Personal Correspondence. 1942-1958
1 O'Connell, R. H., (Univ. of Michigan). 1957
1 Pribram, Karl. 1956-1958
2 Stoneham, Lillian. 1957-1958
2 Taliaferro, W.H. 1957
2 Watson, John B. 1951-1958
2 Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology. 1956-1958
2 Annual Report. 1956-1957
2 Bd. of Scientific Directors, Minutes. 1955-1956
2 Contracts. 1953-1955
2 Evaluation. 1949


2 "Brain and Intellect".
2 "Brief History of Psychopathology" (2 drafts). 1934
2 "Emotion" [Includes bibliography].
2 James Arthur Lecture.
2 "Lecture #1".
2 London Lectures: "The Mechanism of Integration", "Problem of Motivation", "Physiological Factors in Intellect".
2 [Psychology 6--Appears to be lecture notes for a psychology class. Includes bibliography.].
2 [Unidentified. May be part of Brief History of Psychopathology.].
2 University of Rochester, (2 drafts and related correspondence.). November, 1957
3 Vanuxem, Princeton [early draft?]. 1952
3 Vanuxem, Princeton [copy 1]. 1952
3 Vanuxem, Princeton [copy 2]. 1952
3 Vanuxem, Princeton [copy 3]. 1952
3 "Lectures on N. S."; "Neural Factors in Intelligence"; "Problem of the Physiology of Language"; [Notes and fragments].


3 "Britannica" [several titles].
3 "Cerebral Organization and Behavior"; Ms, galley and reprint. 1958
3 "The Criterion of Emotion".
3 "Dynamic Processes in Perception" and untitled Ms.
3 "Dynamics".
3 "Efferent path" [fragments of ms].
3 "How the Brain Has a Mind".
3 "Learning Theory". This folder and next were tied together with string.
3 Unlabeled folder that was tied to preceding one.
3 "The Mechanism of Vision. IX. The Numerical elations of Cells in the Visual System of the Rat".
3 "The Objective Study of Perception".
3 "Paul Harkai Schiller: 1908-1949".
4 "The Problem of Interaction and Cerebral Areas"; "Spontaneous Activity of Nerve Cells". [Other notes, fragments found within folder].
4 Unidentified, folder marked "Introduction".
4 Unidentified, contains sketches and information on the cerebral cortex.
4 Unidentified, some text identical to Vanuxem and lectures and folders marked I, II, IV, V.
4 "I". Appears to be part of manuscript with folders marked II, IV, V.
4 "II". A roman numeral III also appeared on folder; but was penned over.
4 "IV".
4 "V. Consciousness".

Notes and Drawings

4 "Brain Monkey" [notebook]
4 "Discard"
4 "Discard"
4 "Drawings" [dog brains]
4 [Drawings of lesions]
4 "Explanation in Psychology"
4 "Learning notes"
4 [Loose papers gathered from boxes]
4 "Misc. notes"
5 "Problems"
5 "Rat" [notes, drawings]
5 "Scarf brain drawings"

Bibliography and Reference Notes

5 [miscellaneous]
5 "References"
5 [reference note cards]


5 [lesions]
5 [personal]
5 "Plates--monograph"
5 [Photo-micrographs form Y. C. Tsang]
5 [terns]
5 [unidentified experiment]


5 Biographical material
5 "Brains belonging to Edward Girden"
5 Itineraries and calendars
5 Memorabilia
5 [verse]
5 Lashley's will and resolution of Yerkes Laboratories upon his death

Manuscripts (Other Authors)

5 Joseph Altman, "Recent Experimental Contributions to.... Sensorimotor Contribution". 1956
5 Marjory Brown, "The Functions of the Visual Cortex... " plus letter of 4/24/44. Circa 1944
5 Marjory Brown [pulled from envelope addressed to Lashley from Brown postmarked 11/21/42. Circa 1942
5 Kohler, Ivo, "Development and Alterations of the Perceptual World". 1956
5 Teuber, Hans-Lukas, "Some Alterations in Behavior After Cerebral Lesions in Man". 1956
5 Vol. 1; Birthday Book. 1950

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Bishop, George H. (George Holman), b. 1889 -- Correspondence.
Brain -- Localization of functions.
Colby, Kenneth Mark, 1920- -- Correspondence.
Jacksonville College of Music.
Learning ability.
Psychologists -- Correspondence.
Watson, John B. (John Broadus), 1878-1958 -- Correspondence.
Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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