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B.F. Skinner Collection

Identifier: yhm-arc-0000-005

Content Description

Assorted memorabilia and other material related to B.F. Skinner, class of 1926. Of special interest are a letter from Robert Frost received by B.F. Skinner; letters to Arthur Percy Saunders while Skinner was a graduate student at Harvard and afterwards (from A.P. Saunders Papers); memorabilia collected by college. Organized into three series: (1A-E) Memorabilia, Articles About, and Publications of B.F. Skinner; (2) Letter to B.F. Skinner from Robert Frost; (3) Letters to B.F. Skinner from A.P. Saunders, 1926 - 1936 (59 leaves, some typed, some handwritten).


  • 1926-1936


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Skinner, B. F. (Burrhus Frederic), 1904-1990, was born in Susquehanna, PA on March 20, 1904 and died in Cambridge, MA on August 18, 1990. In the quarter century from 1930 to 1955, he changed the course of scientific psychology more than anoyone else in its history by intense application to fundamental questions, ingenious experiments with self-made instruments, and scrupulous attention to accuracy and detail in the intepretation of results. As the 20th century's most celebrated exponenet of a deterministic science of human behavior, he became controversial. Like other pivotal figures in science, he challenged how people conceive of themselves and their world.

Skinner was born on March 20, 1904, in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, a small town on the Erie Railroad. The childhood he described in his autobiography glows with nostalgia for rural America in the golden decade before the Great War. He was the elder of the two sons of William Skinner and Grace Burrhus. Neither parent had been to college, but his father read for the law became a successful lawyer in Susquehanna untili wider professional horizons drew the family to Scranton just before Skinner went off to Hamilton College.

Skinner finished Hamilton college in 1926 near the top of his class. He majored in English and wrote for and edited the college literary magazine. While in college, he visited New York City for theatergoing and for mingling with the literary bohemians in Greenwich Village.

The next step was graduate work in psychology, which led him to Harvard University in 1928. His doctorate in 1931 was followed by five years in research fellowships at Harvard. He took his first teaching appointement at the University of Minnesota in 1946. Soon after, he married Yvonne "Eve" Blue, an English major at the University of Chicago, in 1936. Their daughter, Julie, was born in 1938, and another daughter, Deborah, arrived in 1944.

After rising through the ranks at the University of Minnesota and later Indiana University, Skinner accepted the position Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, where he stayed throughout the tenure of his career. Skinner passed away on August 18, 1990.

(citation: "Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Memorial Minute," Harvard Gazette, March 26, 1993; copy located in Box 1, File 9)


.4 Linear Feet (1 half width archival box)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged alphabetically by folder and chronologically within each folder.

Related Materials

The B.F. Skinner Papers are located at Harvard University:

Jeremy Katz
Nov. 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hamilton College Archives Repository

198 College Hill Road
Clinton NY United States