Preliminary Guide to the Katharine M. Banham Papers, 1910-1995


Katharine May Banham (1897-1995) served as a professor in the Department of Psychology at Duke University from 1946 to 1967, specializing in child psychology and development. Papers include correspondence, writings, speeches, case files and research notes, teaching materials, diaries, memorabilia, photographs, and oral history interviews of Katharine M. Banham, relating to her work in the field of psychology and her contributions to Duke University, Durham, and North Carolina. Prominent subjects include psychological experimentation, child psychology, geriatrics and gerontology, human social and emotional development, children with cerebral palsy, the Woman's College, Duke Preschool, Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement, the North Carolina Psychological Association, the Durham Child Guidance Clinic, and the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. English.

Collection Details

Record Group
Katharine M. Banham papers
Banham, Katharine M., b. 1897
26 Linear Feet, 20,000 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

The Katharine May Banham Papers span the years between 1910 and 1995, with the bulk occurring between 1945 and 1984. These papers include her master's theses and dissertation work, professional and academic writings, case files, and data documenting psychological experiments that culminated in the development of tests, as well as research articles and one monograph; transcripts of talks and addresses; translations of French psychological texts, teaching materials; administrative records of and records documenting her role in various civic and academic clubs and organizations; professional and personal correspondence; and personal materials including art, photographs, memorabilia, poetry and other personal writings, diaries, biographical information, legal documents, and tapes and transcripts of an oral history interview done in 1980. The main subject areas include Banham's contribution to the profession, her participation in the Duke community, and the Durham community as well as regional, national, and international communities and agencies.

The collection chiefly reflects Banham's career as a woman psychologist during a period when there was little support for women in professional or academic careers. The papers document Banham's research and teaching in three countries; her contributions in the areas of child psychology and geriatrics, particularly human social and emotional development; functioning and development of children with cerebral palsy and disabilities; the history and especially the development of psychological testing of children and adults; and parapsychological phenomena. Research and teaching materials are located within the Academic and Professional Psychology series and Duke Activities series. Materials relevant to Banham's professional development are scattered throughout all five series.

The collection is also important for the perspective it offers on the Duke University Psychology Department and the Woman's College during the 1940s to the 1960s. Information related to both as well as her role in the Admissions and scholarships Committees among other faculty committees (see the folder list located in the description of Duke Activities series), the Duke Preschool, the Duke Film Society, and the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement can be found primarily in the Duke Activities series. Material regarding the development and teaching of an infant and child psychology curriculum and a series of correspondence with graduate students are also of special interest and can be found in the Duke Activities series. Other materials relating to her contributions to the Duke Community are located in the Academic and Professional Psychology series, the Correspondence series, and the Personal Files series.

Banham's contribution to the city of Durham is reflected in the Agency and Club Participation series with the most in depth materials relating to her role in establishing the French Club, the Photographic Arts Society, the Altrusa Club, and the Committee for Successful Aging (which became the Golden Age Society and finally, the Coordinating Council for Senior Citizens), and, to a lesser degree, in the Academic and Professional Psychology series specifically in her role as one of the founding psychologists of the Durham Child Guidance Clinic. Banham co-founded the North Carolina Psychological Association in addition to being an active member and officer of other regional, national, and international organizations such as the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, and the International Council of Women Psychologists.

Banham's life was defined by her professional and academic commitments and so her closest relationships were with her colleagues and the many individuals to whom she gave her time and the benefit of her professional skills. The Correspondence and personal series best reflect her tireless efforts on behalf of the people with whom she come into contact. Her papers are particularly useful as they document the period of the 1920s through the 1960s in England, Canada, and especially the United States from the perspective of a highly educated, professional woman.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the office of origin and the University Archivist is required for use. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist.

warning Use & Permissions

Series 1. Materials that are personally identifiable and relate to psychological evaluations and testing are restricted (contained in white envelopes and stamped restricted).

Series 4. Letters of reference and recommendation as well as correspondence between Ruth A. Baker, secretary of the Psychology Department and Katharine Banham, 1990-1995 (contained in white envelopes and stamped restricted). To be opened only by the permission of the University Archivist.

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.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Katharine M. Banham Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Academic and Professional Psychology, 1916-1986 (bulk 1946-1981).
([9.6 linear ft.], Also includes one map cabinet drawer)

Comprised of Banham's collection of 3x5 cards of bibliographic citations from 1948-1962; talks and addresses; writings including student papers and master's theses, essays, reviews, translations of various articles in French as well as books by Alfred Binet and Remy Chauvin, and research articles; research notes and materials relating to the development of psychological tests including School Readiness Inventory, Social Competence Inventory for Adults, Maturity Level for School Entrance and Reading Readiness, Quick Screening Scale of Mental Development, Ring and Peg Tests of Mental Development, Social Competence Inventory for Older Persons, human and animal empathy tests, visual irradiation tests, and various parapsychological tests; administrative materials related to research and testing; materials documenting professional positions at the McGill University Nursery School in Canada, the Leicester School Psychological Service in England, Division of Psychological Services in Iowa, the New Jersey State Board of Children's Guardians, the Durham Child Guidance Center, the North Carolina Cerebral Palsy Hospital, the North Carolina State Board of Public Welfare, the Duke University Nursery School, Lenox Baker Hospital (formerly the N.C. Cerebral Palsy Hospital), and numerous consultancy positions for agencies and individuals throughout North Carolina; professional and academic interests files; news and magazine clippings; and curricula vitae from 1928-1983.

The series documents Banham's propensity to work on several projects and in more than one position at any given time throughout her career. While she was developing new psychological tests, writing essays and articles for various audiences, teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students, and doing secretarial tasks in the psychology department, Banham worked as a consultant doing psychological evaluation for individuals and agencies while helping to establish the Duke Nursery School. The series also documents Banham's extensive travel through England, Canada, and the United States in her many academic and professional capacities. Finally, the series provides a picture of Banham's research and professional methodologies, the variety of her intellectual interests, and the depth and breadth of her commitment and service to her profession and the individuals with whom she came into contact throughout her career.

The whole of the Academic and Professional Psychology series is arranged chronologically and then subdivided into geographic regions. These subdivisions, England, Canada, Iowa, New Jersey, and North Carolina, represent the locations in which Banham was working when the contents of the folders were created.

Box 1-8
Duke Activities, 1946-1986 (bulk 1946-67).
([4.8 linear ft.])

The Duke Activities series is arranged alphabetically by activity and divided into eight different activities: Admissions Committee, Department of Psychology, Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement, Duke Preschool, Faculty Committees and Clubs, Film Society, Library Committee, and Scholarship Committees.

Box 9-12

Admissions Committee

The Admissions Committee subseries spans the years 1958-1961 and contains materials relating to admission requirements, admission statistics, correspondence with registrar staff, and students considered for admission to Duke University Woman's College.

Box 9-12

Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology subseries is further divided into three categories: history and development, course materials, and correspondence with graduate students. The history and development section spans the years 1946-1986 contains materials documenting Banham's role in starting the clinical psychology program; department of psychology colloquia announcements, memoranda, notices, a description of the history of the department; inventories from psychological test library maintained by Banham. Also included is a record of graduate student research during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s along with copies of qualifying exams taken by Ph.D. students during this same period. The course materials section spans the years of Banham's professorship at Duke and contains bibliographies of psychological texts, course syllabi and packets, and lecture notes for classes in abnormal, social, behavioral, and clinical psychology and particularly for the child psychology curriculum. Course materials from Banham's two summer teaching positions at the University of British Columbia are included here. The third section contains correspondence with nine graduate students. One of these individuals maintained a correspondence with Banham for over thirty years (1949-1985). The materials in this section are of particular interest as the practice of faculty-student correspondence was uncommon during this period.

Box 9-12

Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement

The Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement subseries spans the years 1977-1986 and contains extensive administrative records of the Institute including correspondence, notices, meetings minutes, workshop and course materials (both given and taken by Banham), and a draft of an autobiography written by Banham during a writing workshop.

Box 9-12

Duke Preschool

The Duke Preschool subseries spans the years 1936-1967 and contains the first plan for what was then (1936) being called the Institute for Child Study. The plan includes a mission statement, budget, and the curricula vitae of the persons who would run the program. The next part of the series is a similar plan with blueprints of the Child Study Laboratory (1946-1949), the second permutation of the preschool. The remainder of the series consists of materials documenting the day-today events of the preschool including administrative records as well as copies of the "Duke Kindergarten Newspaper." (See Series 5 for photographic documentation of the school.)

Box 9-12

Faculty Committees and Clubs

The faculty committees and clubs subseries spans the years 1948 to 1986 and documents Banham's service to a variety of faculty committees and clubs (see folder list at the end of this description). Of particular interest are the Academic council (1983-1985), the Center for Study of the Aging (1982-1985), the Committee on Retirement Housing for Duke Faculty and Staff (1966-1971), the Duke Council on Women's Studies (1985-1986), and the Experimental Dormitory Committee (1961-1964).

Box 9-12

Film Society

The Film Society subseries spans the years 1949 to 1965. These records represent the entire lifetime of the Society whose aim it was to promote the showing of experimental, foreign, or documentary films. Materials include the original mission statement; administrative records; an extensive run of correspondence between Banham and other members, University administration, and film distributors: news clippings; and documentation of the Society's dissolution and support for the student-run group, Quadrangle Pictures.

Box 9-12

Library Committee

The Library Committee subseries spans the years between 1935 and 1985 and includes correspondence, memoranda, and acquisition lists. The papers broadly reflect Banham's service within the psychology department as she represented the department to the university libraries as well as concerned herself with the departmental library. Particular areas of interest include Banham's role on the Woman's College Library Committee, acquisitions in the discipline of psychology between the years 1935 and 1985, and the library within the Psychology Department. The subseries provides an example of faculty involvement in library matters and collection development.

Box 9-12

Scholarship Committees

The Scholarship Committees subseries spans the years 1945-1986 and reflect Banham's strong interest in this element of university life. Materials in this group include administrative records, correspondence, and news clippings regarding scholarships and prizes in several different disciplines including two, the Alice C. Hundley Piano Scholarship and the Anne McDougall Award for Women that Banham herself established.

Box 9-12
Agency and Club Participation, 1924-1986 (bulk 1945-1981).
([2.7 linear ft.])

Though the bulk of the materials relate to Banham's work for the Altrusa Club (1934-1985), an all-women philanthropic organization, the series documents more than twenty organizations in which Banham played various roles from member to officer to founder. The materials included in this series consist of correspondence, notices, reports, minutes, membership records, agency histories, constitutions, by-laws, mission statements, and news clippings. The records of these agencies and clubs are of particular interest not only for Banham's contribution, but also for the role they played in the history of the city of Durham and the State of North Carolina: the American Association of University Women, Durham Branch (1948-1976); the Coordinating Council For Senior Citizens (1967-1985); the French Club (1956-1965 and 1969-1976); the Golden Age Club (1949-1968); the League of Women Voters of Durham (1980-1986); the North Carolina Psychological Association (1948-1986); and, the Photographic Arts Society (1964-1984).

The Agency and Club Participation series is arranged alphabetically by the names of the agencies and clubs.

Box 12-13
Oversize-folder 1
Correspondence, 1920-1995 (bulk 1940-1986).
([3.6 linear ft.])

The correspondence series is arranged chronologically and divided into two subseries: professional correspondence and personal correspondence.

Box 14-16

Professional Correspondence, 1920-1982

The professional subseries, which spans the years 1920-1982, is largely composed of correspondence related to Banham's various academic and professional positions, consultations with individuals, requests by agencies and individuals for her psychological tests, relationships with colleagues at other universities, and letters of reference and recommendation.

Box 14-16

Personal Correspondence, 1940-1995

The personal subseries, which spans the years 1940-1995, primarily contains correspondence between Banham and her family in England with the bulk of it between herself and her sister or mother. The subjects of these letters include announcements of births, deaths, and other family events, details of Banham's many trips and those of various family members, and general correspondence and thank you notes from her nephews. The rest of the series consists of correspondence between Banham and the many friends she made throughout her life and career in England, Canada, and the US. and reflect the close connection between her personal and professional life.

Box 14-16
Personal Files, 1910-1986.
([4.0 linear ft.])

Subjects include biographical and autobiographical information; certificates and awards; Banham's collection of materials pertaining to British culture; her favorite camera; legal documents regarding her change of citizenship; materials relating to her courtship with J. W. Bridges; diaries from the 1940s to the 1980s; genealogical information about the Banham family; an oral history interview and transcript done with Banham in 1980; journals written by Banham as a part of a continuing education course; newsclippings; materials relating to parties planned by Banham; photographs of family, friends, and colleagues; poetry and other personal writings; recipes; taped recordings by her sister; files related to Banham's religious life and research into retirement accommodation; travel files including two file relating to the excavation she participated in at Winchester, England; and materials she saved from the second world war. The materials in this series are relevant for the perspective they give into the nature of Banham's life when she was not working and her lifestyle during her retirement.

The Personal Files are a series of subject files arranged alphabetically by subject matter.

Box 17-18
Oversize-folder 2

Historical Note

Biographical and Historical Note

Katharine May Banham was born 26 May, 1897, Sheffield, England and died 7 May, 1995, in Buckinghamshire, England. Educated at University of Manchester (England), BS., 1919; Cambridge University (England), M.S., 1921, though this institution did not award degrees to women at that time; University of Toronto (Canada), MA., 1923; and University of Montreal, Ph.D., 1934 (Cum Laude), the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. from that university.

After faculty and professional positions in Canada, England, Iowa, and New Jersey, Banham was appointed to the Duke University faculty of psychology as Associate Professor in 1946 and Duke University Associate Professor of Psychology, Emerita in 1967. She was appointed Senior Psychologist at the North Carolina Board of Public Welfare in 1950. In addition to summer positions at the New Jersey Children's Home Society (1948), Children's Services of Cleveland, Ohio (1950), and visiting professor at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. (1960 and 1962), Banham was appointed as Head Psychologist of the Infant Program at the North Carolina Cerebral Palsy Hospital in 1967 and Consulting Psychologist at Lenox Baker Hospital (formerly called the N.C. Cerebral Palsy Hospital) in 1980. Banham cofounded the Duke University Nursery School in 1946, with Dr. Wally Reichenberg-Hackett, helped to establish the Duke Film Society and the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement, served in various faculty committees, developed a freshman counseling program, and created psychology courses in the area of infant and child development.

Outside of the Duke community, Banham helped to establish many organizations including the Child Guidance Clinic of Durham; the Committee for Successful Aging; the North Carolina Psychological Association; the Altrusa Club, an all-women philanthropic organization; the French Club; and the Photographic Arts Society of Durham. She was a member and officer of many professional organizations in the United States and abroad. She established and funded the Alice C. Hundley Piano Student Award in 1970, for promising piano players between twelve and fourteen years old and the Anne McDougall Memorial Award for women in 1985, for women students to pursue study in the broad area of psychology whose education has been interrupted or who have not had the opportunity for college education. Honors and awards received by her include the N.C. Cerebral Palsy Award for Merit (1972) as well as certificates and awards of recognition and merit from regional, national, and international organizations. Published in both English and French, major publications include The Social and Emotional Development of the Preschool Child, (London: Kegan Paul, 1931) and Ring and Peg Tests of Behavior Development, (Chicago: Psychometric Affiliates, 1965).

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The University Archives received this collection as a transfer in 1977, 1992, and 1995.

Processing Information

Processed by Laura Micham

Completed November, 1996

Encoded by Joshua McKim, December 2002; Jill Katte, April 2003