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A Guide to the Paul Harkai Schiller Papers

Finding aid prepared by Dept. Staff

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

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Harkai Schiller, Pál, 1908-1949
Title: Paul Harkai Schiller Papers
Dates: 1930-1949
Abstract: Manuscripts of works by Hungarian psychologist specializing in comparative psychology.
Extent: 5.75 Linear feet. 12 Boxes.
Identification: MS Group 81
Language(s): Materials are written in English, Hungarian and German.

Biographical/Historical Note

Paul Harkai Schiller was born November 4, 1908, in Budapest. He entered Petrus Pazmany University in 1926 and studied under the philosopher Akos Pauler and the psychologist Pal Ranschburg. He became Ranschburg's assistant in 1928 while Ranschburg was preparing a critique of objectivist and behaviorist psychology. His doctoral thesis, A Lélektani Kategóriák Rendszerének Kialakulása (1930), was an historical review of psychology. After two years of study in Germany under Wolfgang Köhler, he returned to Budapest and was appointed Lecturer in psychology at Pazmany University. He attained the rank of Professor in 1937 and headed the psychology department from 1937 until 1947. Schiller developed aptitude tests for the military, state railroads, and private industry to promote psychological studies in Hungary and established the Institute for Research on Public Opinion at Budapest's Radio Center. He was also interested in personality types and published articles on Hungarian smoking and drinking habits. Schiller's primary interest was not in applied science, however, but in theory and research. Much of his work was in the area of comparative psychology and included studies of detour behavior in rats and fish. It was during this period that he elaborated his "action theory" of behavior and published a monograph, The Task of Psychology, in 1940.

In 1939, Schiller married Claire (Klara) Imredy, a psychology student at Pazmany. This was his second marriage; he had a son, Peter, by his first wife. A daughter, Christina, was born in 1942. After World War II, he accepted a position at Bolyai University in Rumania. When the possibilities for free research dwindled under Communist rule, Schiller accepted an offer from Columbia University to work for six months as a research associate in Teachers College. He came to the United States in 1947. After his brief stay at Columbia, he was asked to join the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology in Orange Park, Florida. There, he embarked on a comprehensive research program involving a variety animals including rats, minnows, chimpanzees, and the octopus. He also prepared an English revision of his book, Handeln und Erleben, entitled "An Analysis of Action."

On May 1, 1949, Schiller fell to his death after slipping on an iced portion of a trail at Mount Washington. His career as a psychologist lasted only nineteen years, but he was able to publish some seventy titles and supervise twenty doctoral dissertations. Schiller was an avid sportsman, an amateur aviator, and fluent in English, German, Italian, and French as well as his native Hungarian.

Scope and Content

Research, bibliographic notes, correspondence, manuscripts, drawings, photographs, and publications. The Schiller Papers contain research notes and observations, as well as correspondence focusing on the last two years of his life, his work at Yerkes Laboratory, and research on public opinion in post World War II Hungary. The manuscripts, in German, Hungarian and English, include drafts and publication notes, letters from Pal Ranschburg, chimpanzee drawings, clippings, notes, and photos of family, colleagues and experiments. Also included are his publications, including "Lélektani Tanulmányok", his doctoral thesis, and publications by other Hungarian psychologists.


The collection is divided into six sections: (1) Notebooks, (2) Correspondence, (3) Manuscripts, (4) Miscellaneous, (5) Photographs, and (6) Publications.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Paul Harkai Schiller Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

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

Contents List


The notebooks consist of laboratory research notes and bibliographic notes. There are also notebooks containing observations of his son, Peter, from ages one through four.

1 Notebooks.
2 Notebooks.


The correspondence begins in 1939, but is largely confined to the last two years of his life. Most are letters received by Schiller; very few copies of his letters exist. Pre-1947 letters are mostly written in Hungarian and some in German. The remaining correspondence reflects his activities at Columbia and the Yerkes Laboratory as well as his collaboration with European colleagues and students. There is also correspondence related to public opinion research conducted in Hungary after World War II.

3 Undated drafts of letters
3 1939
3 1942
3 1943
3 1944
3 1945
3 1946
3 January-June, 1947
3 July-December, 1947
3 1948
3 1948, dates unspecified
3 1949
3 1946-1949, dates uncertain or unknown
3 Aufgabe der Psychologie. 1947-1948
3 Hartmann, George W., re.: Schiller's coming to the United States. 1946
3 Octopus study. 1947-1948
3 Public opinion research. 1947-1948


The manuscript section includes drafts of publications, notes, and, occasionally, correspondence for over thirty titles. Included are the drafts for "An Analysis of Action". The manuscripts are written in Hungarian, German, and English and reflect the full range of his interests. There are also unidentified fragments of manuscripts. Of special note are two letters and an untitled manuscript in the hand of Pal Ranschburg written in 1944.

4 "Az állati értelemröl".
4 "Allatlélektan". 1940-1941
4 "An Analysis of Action" Final draft.
4 "An Analysis of Action" Part I [rough draft].
4 "An Analysis of Action" [drafts Parts III-V].
4 "An Analysis of Action" [Chapter 20].
4 "Analysis of Action--An Outline of Psychology", Parts I-IV.
4 "Analysis of Action--An Outline of Psychology", Parts V--VI.
4 "Analysis of Detour Behavior".
4 "Aufgabe der Psychologie".
5 "Barátság".
5 "Congruent and Incongruent Detour Behavior in Cats".
5 "Delayed Detour Response in the Octopus". 1949
5 "Delayed Response in the Minnow".
5 "Detour Experiment in Rats" APA paper, Detroit.
5 "Factors in Motivation".
5 "Die Gestalttheorie auf neuen Bahnen".
5 "Az ember, mint társas lény".
5 "Emlékezetvizsgálatok fehér patkányon és fürge cselén" Molnar/Schiller.
5 "Fish" [different manuscript titles and fragments].
5 "Gyakorlati emberismeret". 1942
5 Hungarian public opinion [various titles].
5 "Innate Constituents of Complex Responses in Primates" [drafts returned from reviewers].
5 "Innate Constituents of Complex Responses in Primates" [drafts returned from reviewers].
5 "Innate Constituents of Complex Responses in Primates"; final revisions/changes.
5 "Innate Motor Action as a Basis of Learning".
5 "The Intelligent Octopus".
5 "Learning, Insight, and Instinct".
6 "A lélektan alapfogalmainak meguilágitása".
6 "Manipulative Correction of Visual Figures", Bakay/Schiller (Final draft).
6 "Paul Ranschburg, 1870-1945".
6 "A Psychophysical Interpretation of Instinct Action".
6 "A Psychophysical Theory of Action".
6 "Sinn und Form", Institut für Wissenschaft und Kunst, Vienna. Oct. 18, 1946
6 "Sinnesphysiologie".
6 "Test, lélek, szellem". 1940
6 "A Test of Cooperation and Leadership: Social Work in the Gymnasium". 1941
6 "Warum raucht der Mensch?" Schiller/Varga.
6 [Unidentified manuscript fragment].
6 [Fragments and notes found loose].
6 "Ertelmes eszközhasználat fehér patkányoknal" by Köszönöm Dr. Kardos Lasjosnak.


Includes drawings done by chimpanzees at the Yerkes Primate Laboratory, newsletters and clippings related to public opinion research in Hungary, several folders related to his pattern completion experiments (including the actual pattern pieces), other experiment notes, and personal documents such as diplomas and passports. Miscellany also includes five folders under the heading "Csiny es csel" ("Pranks and tricks") which document, through letters, notes, and manuscripts, his professional interest in comic behavior as well as his own sense of humor.

6 Ranschburg, Pal--single note to (Schiller?), date illegible, and note, dated June 2, 1944, with manuscript in Ranschburg's hand found in envelope. (pages 27-28 of mss missing)].
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Ambiguous figures.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Bars.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Blank pages.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Double field--Color.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Figure completion
6 Chimpanzee drawings--For reproduction.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Non-completion of outlines.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--[Found after "Non-Completion of outlines" but not identified as such].
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Prior marks.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Single large figure.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Single small figure.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--Structuring of multiple figures.
6 Chimpanzee drawings--[unidentified].
7 Completion Experiments--Correspondence, test sheets, notes
7 Completion experiments--Figures reproduced.
7 Completion experiments--pattern pieces.
7 [Course materials--Comparative Psychology 341].
7 [Course materials--Grades, exams, 1947].
7 [Course materials--Seminar in Gestalt Psychology, 1948].
7 Course Materials: "Csinys csel" [5 folders].
8 [Genealogical table].
8 Gyermeki cselekvés--Notes.
8 Gyermekpszichologia, 1937-1948 [lectures?].
8 dézetek [citations].
8 Leacute;lektan: Bevezetes.
8 [Letters to editors re: Soviet aggression in Eastern Europe].
8 [Miscellaneous documents].
8 [Necrology].
8 Octopus--[experiment notes].
8 Octopus [grant] reports.
8 Octopus: Patterns?
8 Personal: [Public Opinion--Hungary--Newsletters, clippings].
8 Personal: [Public Opinion--Hungary--Newsletters, clippings].
8 Personal: [Public Opinion--Newsletters from other countries].
8 Personal: Report on After-effects, Yerkes Lab, 1/28/48.
8 Personal: [Reviews]
8 Personal: Vitae, publications list other biographical data.
8 Personal: Wartime Psychology in Central Europe.
9 Miscellany: Folders containing materials on a variety of research subjects as well as publication manuscripts.


The photographs in the collection are primarily of family and scenes from trips and home life. Most are unidentified. There are also photographs of experiments (for example, the rat mazes used in delayed detour response experiments) and colleagues.

10 Photographs


The Schiller Papers contain reprints and copies of publications for sixty-four titles written, co-written, or edited by Schiller. These include many Hungarian publications including a set of Lélektani Tanulmányok, which Schiller founded and edited, and his doctoral thesis. There are also several publications by other Hungarian psychologists.

12 "Az állati értelem" in Természettudomány. 1946
12 "Altalános lélektan". n.d.
12 "Analysis of Detour Behavior I. Learning of Round about Pathways in Fish". 1948
12 "Analysis of Detour Behavior II. Congruent and InCongruent Detour Behavior in Cats". 1950
12 "Bencsik Béla életmüve". 1943
12 Borfogyasztási Szokások, Schiller/Varga. 1940
12 "A Configurational Theory of Puzzles and Jokes". 1938
12 "Contemporary Hungraina Psychology" Schiller/Hartmann. 1940
12 "A Cselekvés alaptérelei". 1939
12 "Delayed Detour Response in the Octopus". 1949
12 "Delayed Response in the Minnow". 1948
12 "Feher patkányok kerülöút használata" Bakay/Schiller. 1947
12 Dohányzási Szokások Budapesten Schiller/Varga. 1938
12 "Durch Beschattung aufleuchtende Figuren". 1933
12 "Elöadások az általános lélektanból". 1942
12 "Eine Erhebung über Nervosität". 1935
12 "Ertelempróbák szerkesztése" Zoltan/Schiller. 1938
12 "Ertelemvizsgálatok halakon". 1942
12 "Az érzéki észrevevés elmélete". 1934
12 "Az érzékszervek müködésének egymástól valókölcsönös függése". 1932
12 "Figural Preferences in the Drawings of a Chimpanzee". 1951
12 "A fürge cselle (phoxinus laevis) mozgáslátása". 1934
12 "Gegenseitige Beeinflussung der optischen und der akustischen Helligkeit". 1933
12 "A gyakorlati emberismeret jövöje". n.d.
12 "A gyermeki értelemröl. (Jean Piaget munkássága)". 1940
12 "A Hungarian Survey on Sympathetic Attitudes". 1947
12 "Interrelation of Different Senses in Perception". 1935
12 "Intersensorielle Transposition bei Fischen". 1933
12 "A katonai jellemvizsgálatorkról". 1941
12 "A katonai képességvizsgálatok" in Magyar Katonai Szemle. 1940
12 "Kinematoskopisches Sehen der Fische". 1934
12 A Közelmult Lelki Tömegfertozései, Gleimann et al. 1945
12 Közvélemény. 1947
12 "Lélektan és embertan". 1943
12 "A Lélektan feladatáról". 1937
12 A Lélektan Irodalma. 1944
12 A Lélektani Kategóriák Rendszerének Kialakulása. 1930
12 "A mai lélektan" Hermann et al. 1946
12 "Manipulative Correction of Visually Presented Figures" Bakay/Schiller. 1948
12 "Pauler ákos a pszichológia feladatairól". 1934
12 "Psychology and Physiology". 1940
12 "A pszichológia új utjal". n.d.
12 "Pszichológiai diagnosztika a gyermekkorban". 1934
12 "Paul Ranschburg: 1870-1945". 1947
12 "Das Ranschburgsche Phänomen und dessen Einflußauf das Erkennen von Kraftfahrzeugkennzeichen". 1932
12 "Results of Hungarian Public Opinion Research". 1947
12 "A sajtóhibák lélektana". 1935
12 "A sajtóhibak keletkezésének pszichologiaioknyomozása". 1931
12 "Sguardo sullo sviluppo della psicologia in Ungheria". 1936
12 "Die Stellung der synästhetischen Erscheinungen in der Seelenstruktur". 1931
12 "Stoboskopische Alternativversuche". 1933
12 "Die triebpsychologischen Wurzeln der sogenanntennervösen Zustände". 1935
12 "A tudattalanról". 1944
12 "Umwegversuche an Elritzen". 1941
12 "Untersusuchungen über Emlfindung und Emfinden". 1932
12 "Vergleichende Untersuchungen über Bewegungssehen". 1937
12 "Wirkung des Umfeldes auf motorsiche Leistungen". 1934
12 "Wissenschftliche und Angewandte Psychologie in Ungarn". n.d.
12 "Der Witz und das Komische". 1937
12 Publications edited by Schiller: Lélektani tanulmányok, Vols. 1-9. 1937-1947
12 Publications edited by Schiller: A lelki élet: Vizsgálatának eredményei. 1942
12 Magazine publications: "Vom Orientierungssin der Tiere". n.d.
12 Magazine publications: "Ungarische Forschungen über die Tierseele". n.d.
12 Magazine publications: "Charakterforschungen in Ungarn". n.d.
12 Magazine publications: Life containing photo spread on the "Clever Octopus". February 16, 1948
12 Publications (Other authors): "The Child's Theories Concerning Death," Maria Nagy. 1947
12 Publications (Other authors): "La Mesure du Comprotement Adapté chez les Chimpanzés," Yerkes/Spragg. 1937
12 Publications (Other authors): "A berlini alaklélektani iskoláról," Wolfgang Kóhler. 1930
12 Publications (Other authors): "Bevezetés a tuományos gondolkodásba," Kornis Gyula; Ts. n.d.
12 Publications (Other authors): "Az idegrendszer teljesitmény szerinti beosztása, L. Müller. 1942
12 Publications (Other authors): "Grundsärze der Ernährungspsychologie und Schlußfolgerungen daraus für die Verteilung von Vollsoja," Weiss/Simoneit. 1948
12 Publications (Other authors): "Adalékok a Magyar gyáripar helyzeténekkonjunkturális alakulásához," Varga István. 1935

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Chimpanzees -- Psychological testing -- Florida -- Orange Park.
Institute for Research on Public Opinion (Budapest, Hungary)
Psychologists -- Hungary.
Psychology, Comparative.
Public opinion -- Hungary.
Ranschburg, Pál, 1870-1945.
Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology.

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