Finding aid for the William S. Verplanck papers

William S. Verplanck papers
Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology
Phone: 330-972-7285
Verplanck, William S.
25.41 linear feet (77 boxes)
The William S. Verplanck papers contain manuscripts and other professional papers by Verplanck and others. Topics of research on vision studies, child development, behavior, history of psychology; instinct, conditioning, and interbehaviorism are among the materials represented.
View finding aid for the William S. Verplanck papers.
Boxes M1752-M1799; M1850-M1971; M2025; M2308
The records are in English

Biography of William S. Verplanck

William S. Verplanck was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, on January 16, 1916. He earned his BS in 1937 and MS in 1938 from the University of Virginia. He received his PhD under Clarence Graham at Brown University in 1941. Verplanck spent the next four years conducting research on night vision at the Naval Medical Research Laboratory. He taught at Indiana University, Harvard, Stanford, Hunter College, and the University of Maryland, until he found his niche at the University of Tennessee. He stayed at Tennessee until his retirement in 1981.

Though interested in several areas in the field of psychology, one of Verplanck's major goals was to introduce ethological method and thinking to American psychologists. Verplanck spend a sabbatical at Oxford University with Niko Tinbergen and other leading ethologists in 1956. He authored A Glossary of Some Terms Used in the Objective Analysis of Behavior in 1957, which helped to facilitate communication between ethologists and behaviorists. Verplanck was also one of the founders of the Psychonomic Society.

Verplanck died on September 30, 2002, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Scope and Content

The William S. Verplanck papers include personal and biographical information, including Verplanck's birth certificate, transcripts from Brown University & the University of Virginia, Verplanck's Naval records; and Verplanck genealogy.

Highlights of the collection include reports of experimental work on vision in the army from 1946-1952 as well as extensive correspondence, student papers, and course materials mostly related to Verplanck's career at the University of Tennessee. Similar materials from his years teaching at Indiana University, University of Maryland, Hunter College, Harvard, and Stanford are also present.

Statement of Arrangement

The William S. Verplanck papers are arranged into folders by topic within 77 boxes.

Restrictions on Use

Some restrictions apply. Please contact CHP staff for assistance.

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Restrictions on Access

Some restrictions apply. Please contact CHP staff for assistance.

Separated Material: Separated Material

Slides of Isihara Figures are located in the Still Images collection, box V22. Political Cartoon Prints are located in Map Case 1, Drawer 3A.

Subject Headings

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Child development.
History of psychology.
Psychologists--United States.


Verplanck, William S.

Material Types:


Preferred Citation

Cite as: [identification of item], [folder number, box number], Archives of the History of American Psychology, The Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology - The University of Akron