Guide to the William McDougall Papers, 1892 - 1982


William McDougall (1871-1938), an early twentieth century psychologist, taught at Duke University from 1927 to 1938. McDougall espoused a hormic theory of psychology, emphasizing genetics and instinct over nurture. McDougall was also a strong proponent of parapsychology. The William McDougall Papers, 1892-1982, includes correspondence, writing, research, teaching materials, clippings, notebooks, photographs, diaries, drawings, and tributes. Most of the materials date from the time of McDougall's tenure at Duke University. Major subjects include Lamarckian experiments conducted by McDougall, the McDougall family (and sons Kenneth and Angus in particular), the study of parapsychology, the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University, the Psychology Department at Duke University, and anthropological studies in Borneo and the Torres Strait.

Descriptive Summary

William McDougall papers 1892 - 1982
McDougall, William, 1871-1938.
9.5 Linear Feet, , 10000 Items
University Archives, Duke University
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.

Collection Overview

The William McDougall Papers date from 1892 to 1982, and contain McDougall's own papers as well as those of his family and other researchers. The collection is organized into three series. The first series, Professional, includes correspondence, writing, research, teaching materials, clippings, and tributes. Most of the materials date from the late 1920s to the late 1930s, the time of McDougall's tenure at Duke University. Of particular note is his correspondence with other scholars in the fields of psychology and the social sciences. A card file which indexes these correspondents is available with the collection. McDougall's notes from his Lamarckian experiments on rats can also be found here, as can photograph albums from his anthropological travels in the late 1890s. The Family series contains correspondence, notebooks, photographs, clippings, writings, research and education materials, diaries, drawings, and other materials. Many materials belonging to two of McDougall's sons, Kenneth and Angus, are filed here. The third series, Other Researchers, contains writings and correspondence written by other researchers about McDougall or about McDougall's influence on psychology. These materials were not directly related to or owned by McDougall; most were generated after his death.

Administrative Information

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Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

The Professional series includes correspondence, writing, research, teaching materials, clippings, and tributes. Most of the materials date from the late 1920s to the late 1930s, the time of McDougall's tenure at Duke University. The correspondence is arranged chronologically, and includes correspondence with a number of important psychologists and social sciences researchers. A card file of correspondents and subjects has been made, and is available at the Duke University Archives.

Also in the collection are many articles written by McDougall. Many are handwritten or typescript, and may be drafts of later articles. These are arranged according to title, and are followed by a number of unidentified articles and manuscripts. Also included are bibliographies of McDougall's work.

The research materials contains a number of notebooks kept by McDougall as he conducted Lamarckian experiments on rats at Duke University. Two photograph albums date from McDougall's early anthropological work with southeast Asian and Pacific island peoples. The Sarawak album in particular offers a unique glimpse at early 20th century life on several Pacific islands.

The teaching materials are mainly from the 1930s and relate to Duke University. The clippings and tribute materials provide information on McDougall's influence on his contemporaries, as well as his legacy.

Box 1 Folder 1
July 1931-October 1933
Box 1 Folder 2
November 1933-December 1933
Box 1 Folder 3
January 1934-September 1934
Box 1 Folder 4
October 1934-November 15, 1934
Box 1 Folder 5
November 16, 1934-December 1934
Box 1 Folder 6
January 1935-September 1935
Box 1 Folder 7
October 1935-December 1935
Box 1 Folder 8
January 1936-May 1936
Box 2 Folder 9
July 1936-October 1936
Box 2 Folder 10
November 1936-December 1936
Box 2 Folder 11
January 1937
Box 2 Folder 12
February 1937-March 1937
Box 2 Folder 13
August 1937-November 1937
Box 2 Folder 14
December 1937-January 1938
Box 2 Folder 15
February 1938-June 1938
Box 2 Folder 16
July 1938-November 1938, undated
Box 2 Folder 17
Anthropology and History (typescript)
Box 3 Folder 18
The British in the Far East (typescript)
Box 3 Folder 19
Pages 1-150
Box 3 Folder 20
Pages 151-300
Box 3 Folder 21
Pages 301-460
Box 3 Folder 22
Box 3 Folder 23
Envelope with notes
Box 3 Folder 24
Cutaneous Sensations (reprint)
Box 3 Folder 25
Duke University Institute for Child Study (typescript)
Box 3 Folder 26
The Energies of Men (second revision), 1932
Box 3 Folder 27
Family Allowances, Birth Control, and Eugenics (handwritten and typescript)
Box 3 Folder 28
Fourth Report on a Lamarckian Experiment (reprint), January 1938
Box 3 Folder 29
Notes on The Group Mind (typescript)
Box 3 Folder 30
Health and Continual Youth (handwritten and typescript)
Box 3 Folder 31
Health and Continual Youth (handwritten)
Box 4 Folder 32
Health and Continual Youth (handwritten)
Box 4 Folder 33
How Sambo Was Trained (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 34
Japan or America--an open letter to H.I.M. the Emperor of Japan (handwritten)
Box 4 Folder 35
The 'Margery Mediumship' (reprint), 1925
Box 4 Folder 36
Mechanism and Purpose (handwritten)
Box 4 Folder 37
Mechanism, Purpose, and the New Freedom (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 38
Mechanism, Purpose, and the New Freedom (reprint), 1934
Box 4 Folder 39
Mental Evolution (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 40
Modern Materialism (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 41
Modern Materialism (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 42
Notes to Modern Materialism (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 43
The Nature of Emotion (typescript)
Box 4 Folder 44
The Nature of Emotion (reprint), 1933
Box 4 Folder 45
New Light on Laughter (reprint)
Box 4 Folder 46
A Note on Suggestion (reprint), 1920
Box 4 Folder 47
Notes on his terminal illness (handwritten and typescript), circa 1938
Box 5 Folder 48
Of the Words Character and Personality (handwritten and typescript)
Box 5 Folder 49
Parapsychology (handwritten)
Box 5 Folder 50
Pareto as a Psychologist (reprint), October 1935
Box 5 Folder 51
Philosophy and the Social Sciences (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 52
The Philosophy of J.S. Haldane (reprint), October 1936
Box 5 Folder 53
Psychical Research as a University Study (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 54
Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 55
Recent Tendencies of German Psychology (handwritten)
Box 5 Folder 56
Relations Between Dissociation and Repression (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 57
Religion and the Sciences of Life (reprint), 1932
Box 5 Folder 58
The 'Reverse Picture' in Telepathy (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 59
Review of Max Eastman's Enjoyment of Laughter (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 60
The Rival Schools of Psychology (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 61
The Role of Experiment in Psychology (handwritten)
Box 5 Folder 62
Scope and Method of Social Psychology (handwritten)
Box 5 Folder 63
Should All Taboos Be Abolished? (typescript)
Box 5 Folder 64
Some New Observations in Support of Thomas Young's Theory . . . (reprint)
Box 5 Folder 65
A Theory of Muscular Contraction (reprint)
Box 5 Folder 66
Unidentified manuscripts (5 folders)
Box 6 Folder 67-71
Notebooks (3 folders)
Box 6 Folder 72-74
Bibliographies, 1939-1943
Box 7 Folder 75
Publisher Information, 1932, undated
Box 7 Folder 76
Reviews of McDougall's publications
Box 7 Folder 77

These experiments were McDougall's Lamarckian research with rats.

Volume I, September 1928-May 1930
Box 7 Folder 78
Volume II, December 1929-February 1932
Box 7 Folder 79
Volume III, February 1932-February 1933
Box 7 Folder 80
Volume IV, circa January 1934
Box 7 Folder 81
Volume V, circa November 1935
Box 7 Folder 82
Unnumbered Volume, 1936
Box 8 Folder 83
Correspondence, 1937-1938
Box 8 Folder 84
F. Kenneth Girdlestone notebook on parapsychology, circa 1916
Box 8 Folder 85
circa 1924
Box 8 Folder 86
September 1927-September 1928
Box 8 Folder 87
Box 8 Folder 88
Notes on Paralysis in Fowls, undated
Box 8 Folder 89
Photo Album, circa 1892-1900--Located in Oversized Materials, Box 15

This album contains pictures from McDougall's days at Oxford, as well as some of his research travels to Asia.

Box 8
Photo Album, Sarawak, circa 1900--Located in Oversized Materials, Box 15

This album contains pictures from McDougall's travels to the Pacific Island of Sarawak. The photographs appear to be platinum prints of the islanders, their villages, and their work, warfare, and cultural events. The album is inscribed, "For W McDougall with complements from R Shelford and Charles Hove."

Box 8
Class Notes and Syllabus for Social Psychology, undated
Box 8 Folder 90

The Psychology Department subseries refers to the Duke University Department of Psychology.

Box 8 Folder 91
Box 8 Folder 92
Budget, 1932-1935
Box 8 Folder 93
Ph.D. Candidates, circa 1932-1933
Box 8 Folder 94
Ph.D. Examinations, undated
Box 9 Folder 95
Ph.D. Preliminaries circa 1934
Box 9 Folder 96
Ph.D. Research Proposals, undated
Box 9 Folder 97
Box 9 Folder 98
Box 9 Folder 99
Box 9 Folder 100
Box 9 Folder 101
Unidentified notes, undated
Box 9 Folder 102
About McDougall's career, 1925-1937
Box 9 Folder 103
Collected by McDougall, circa 1930-1938
Box 10 Folder 104-105
Obituaries of McDougall, 1938
Box 10 Folder 106
Tributes to McDougall, 1938-1978
Box 10 Folder 107

The Family series contains correspondence, notebooks, photographs, clippings, writings, research and education materials, diaries, drawings, and other materials. The family kept notebooks in which observations on the children's development were recorded, and included in this series is a notebook for each child except for Kenneth. A significant number of family photographs are also included in this series, and have been sorted according to subject.

A major portion of the series is devoted to materials belonging to two of the McDougall children, Kenneth and Angus. Kenneth continued working on his father's Lamarckian experiments after William McDougall's death in 1938, and his research notebooks are included. Also included in his papers are his armed forces documents, correspondence with his mother during his service in World War II, and diaries kept in the late 1930s. In the Angus McDougall subseries, copies of drawings of Perkins Library, made in 1969, are included, along with correspondence and writings.

Clippings, circa 1964-1966
Folder 108
Folder 109
Folder 110
Condolence, 1938-1939
Folder 111
Funeral Announcements and Programs, circa 1938-1978
Folder 112
Angus McDougall, circa 1906-1914
Folder 113
Duncan McDougall, circa 1906-1917
Box 11 Folder 114
Janet McDougall, circa 1912-1914
Box 11 Folder 115
Leslie McDougall, circa 1901
Box 11 Folder 116
Pedigree (Genealogy), undated
Box 11 Folder 117
William McDougall
Box 11 Folder 118
Anne (Mrs. William) McDougall
Box 11 Folder 119
Children of William and Anne McDougall
Box 11 Folder 120-121
Other People
Box 12 Folder 122
Sculptures by Angus McDougall
Box 12 Folder 123
Wellwick House (McDougall home in England), 1961
Box 12 Folder 124
Armed Forces Materials, 1943-1944
Box 12 Folder 125
Biographical Profile, undated
Box 12 Folder 126
Box 12 Folder 127
Box 12 Folder 128
Box 12 Folder 129
Box 12 Folder 130
Diary - Lunga Island, 1937
Box 12 Folder 131
Diary - Appalachian Trail, 1939
Box 12 Folder 132
Diplomas and Certificates, 1942
Box 12 Folder 133
Invertebrates, 1938-1941, undated
Box 12 Folder 134
Invertebrates, undated
Box 13 Folder 135
Surgery II Notebook, undated
Box 13 Folder 136
Zoology, 1939-1940
Box 13 Folder 137
Zoology, 1941-1942
Box 13 Folder 138
Box 13
November 1940
Box 13
Box 13
Research Notes, undated
Box 13 Folder 139
Writings, 1941, undated
Box 13 Folder 140
Writings - Poems, undated
Box 13 Folder 141
Correspondence, 1966-1967
Box 13 Folder 142
Drawings, 1969
Box 13 Folder 143
Writings - Published Poetry, 1971-1975
Box 13 Folder 144
Writings, undated
Box 13 Folder 145

The Other Researchers series contains writings and correspondence written by other researchers about McDougall or about McDougall's influence on psychology. These materials were not directly related to or owned by McDougall; most were generated after his death. The series is arranged in alphabetical order by researcher name.

Bhupendra Chandra Kar: The Psychology of Prof. William McDougall with its Bearing on Education (dissertation), undated
Box 14 Folder 146
Bevan, 1977
Box 14 Folder 147
Boden, 1972-1973
Box 14 Folder 148
Geinitz, 1981-1982
Box 14 Folder 149
Jones, 1977-1980
Box 14 Folder 150
Kastenbaum, 1967
Box 14 Folder 151
Krantz, 1967
Box 14 Folder 152
Leary, 1981
Box 14 Folder 153
Lubek, 1981
Box 14 Folder 154
McGraw-Hill, 1969-1975
Box 14 Folder 155
Newbold and related, 1978-1980
Box 14 Folder 156
Rhine, 1971
Box 14 Folder 157
Paper, 1971
Box 14 Folder 158
Lewis F. Richardson: Mathematical Psychology of War, 1919
Box 14 Folder 159
Photo Album, circa 1892-1900
Box 15
Photo Album, Sarawak, circa 1900
Box 15
Box 16
November 1940
Box 16
Box 16

Historical Note

William McDougall, a noted psychologist, was born in Lancashire, England, in 1871. He was educated at the University of Manchester (1886-1890); St. John's College, Cambridge (M.B., 1894), St. Thomas Hospital in London; and at Oxford (M.A., 1908). He also studied at Gottingen and received the D.Sc. from the University of Manchester in 1919.

In about 1898, McDougall participated in an anthropological expedition to Borneo and the Torres Strait. Unsatisfied with anthropology, he turned back to psychology and taught at University College, London, from 1900 to 1904. From 1904 to 1920, McDougall served as a Wilde reader in mental philosophy at Oxford University. During World War I, he also served as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1920 he became a professor of psychology at Harvard. In 1927, he came to Duke University as a professor and chair of the new Department of Psychology, a position he held until his death in 1938. McDougall was also one of the organizers of the British Psychological Society; he was for a time president of the British Society for Psychical Research; and in 1912 became a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

McDougall was perhaps best known as a vigorous opponent of behaviorism and materialism in psychology. He strongly believed that nature, not nurture, was responsible for a person's psychological composition. Through empirical, scientific study, McDougall attempted to demonstrate that his "hormic theory of psychology," which emphasized instinct, was superior to the prevailing behaviorist theory of psychology at the time. For many years, he conducted experiments on rats to determine if training could be inherited from one generation to the next. Although his prolific writings and speeches were often controversial and unpopular, McDougall was considered one of the most prominent psychologists of his time.

He also showed a strong interest in extrasensory perception and parapsychological phenomena from his time at Oxford onward. Like his opinions on behaviorism, his advocation of parapsychology was also criticized. McDougall was instrumental in bringing J.B. Rhine to Duke University, and helping to establish the well-known Parapsychology Laboratory at the school.

In 1899, McDougall married Anne Amelia Hickmore of Brighton, England. They had five children: Leslie (Mrs. Paul Brown); Duncan Shimwell (who died while serving in the R.A.F.); Angus Dougal (who died in 1978); Kenneth Dougal (who was killed in France in World War II); and Janet Aline (who died in childhood). William McDougall died on November 28, 1938, and his widow in 1964.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • Department of Psychology Records (Duke University Archives)
  • Parapsychology Laboratory Records (Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections Department, Duke University)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], William McDougall Papers, University Archives, Duke University.


The William McDougall Papers was received by the University Archives as a gift in 1949 (A48-589), 1950 (A48-789), 1956 (A48-2339), 1967 (A67-80, A67-326), 1979 (A79-32), 1980 (A80-61, A80-80), 1985 (A85-76), 1986 (A86-31), 1990 (A90-53), and 1991 (A91-122).

Processing Information

Processed by Valerie Gillispie

Completed August 20, 2004

Encoded by Valerie Gillispie, September 2, 2004

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.