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COLLECTION Identifier: HUGFP 97.xx

Papers of Henry A. Murray, 1925-1988

Henry A. Murray (1893-1988) American psychologist and Harvard professor, was a pioneer in the development of personality theory.


  • 1925-1988


Conditions on Use and Access

The collection is open for research.

Permission to view, photocopy, or for publication from a specified individual is required for the Harvey Meyerson Letters in the Correspondence series. Contact reference staff in the Harvard University Archives for details.


37 cubic feet (131 containers)

These papers document the professional life of Henry A. Murray. . To a lesser extent, the papers provide insight into Murray's personal life. Contained within the Murray papers are some personal papers of Christiana Morgan.


Henry A. Murray (1893-1988) American psychologist and Harvard professor, was a pioneer in the development of personality theory.

Henry Alexander Murray was born in New York City on May 13, 1893 and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 23, 1988. He was educated at Groton and Harvard College where he concentrated in history and graduated in 1915. He married Josephine Rantoul of Boston in 1916. She joined him in New York where he completed his M.A. in biology and M.D. at Columbia Medical School. Murray received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cambridge University in 1927 and accepted an assistantship to Morton Prince at the Harvard Psychological Clinic. Murray became interested in psychology through reading Carl G. Jung's Psychological Types in 1923 and meeting Jung for three weeks in Switzerland in 1925. His interest was spurred on by his acquaintance with Christiana Drummond Morgan, an artist who shared his fascination with Jung, the unconscious and the writings of Herman Melville. This passionate relationship continued in balance with his marriage throughout his life. With the help of Morgan, Murray developed the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) in 1935, which could be used to assess an individual's personality and self-understanding. The TAT was published and distributed by the Harvard University Press in 1943.

At the Harvard Psychological Clinic Murray learned to practice psychoanalysis under the supervision of Hanns Sachs. He headed up a research program which published Explorations in Personality, (Murray ed., et. al.), 1938. In 1938 he was asked by the U.S. Government to put together a psychological profile on Adolph Hitler. During the second World War he served the U.S. Army by helping the forerunner of the CIA assess the psychological fitness of its agents. Murray became a tenured lecturer at Harvard in 1947 and Professor of Clinical Psychology in 1951. Murray was a central figure in the interdisciplinary Department of Social Relations, retiring from Harvard in in 1962, six months after his wife's death. Murray's energy continued as he kept up his research and married Caroline "Nina" Fish, Co-Director of the Psycho-educational Clinic at Boston University's School of Education.

Murray's main interest included personology, Melville and the welfare of the world in the atomic age. In his Basic Concepts for a Psychology of Personality, (Journal of Psychology, 15, 1936), he described personology as "the disciplined study of human nature." This included studying individual memory, thought and action and their development over time, studying the integration of a person's inner outer life, their likes, dislikes, feelings and fears, and categorizing elements which contribute to an enduring life-long disposition, both professional and vocational. Murray published several articles on Melville's life and works and drafted a biography of Melville. He was considered by the Melville Society to be one of the scholars to bring about the Melville revival in the 1920's. His connection with the Society continued into his final years. The dawning of the atomic age concerned Murray, who considered the world to be in a state of "global neurosis." He argued for a democratic world government and a radical conversion of personalities so that the world be a safer place to live. He hoped that a synthesis of universal myths, truths and wisdom could turn the situation around.

Henry A. Murray was a renegade in his field in that, despite his extensive medical and scientific background, he maintained a disdain for scientism in psychology. He saw the study of personality as the study of human lives. He was a charismatic character who attracted many followers, both students and colleagues. A biography has been written by Forrest G. Robinson entitled Love's Story Told: A Life of Henry A. Murray.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. Correspondence
  2. ___Alphabetical
  3. ___Topical
  4. ___Ina May Greer "Hansi"
  5. ___Lewis Mumford
  6. ___Harvey Meyerson Letters
  7. ___Personal
  8. ______Postcards
  9. ______Engagement Letters
  10. ______Related to Wife's Death
  11. ______Family
  12. Biographical and Personal
  13. ___Personal Papers and Biographical Notes
  14. ___Address and Note Books
  15. ___Scrapbooks and Calendars
  16. ___Notebooks, Address Books, and Passports
  17. ___Honorary Degrees, Awards, Citations, Certificates
  18. Research
  19. ___Conference Reports and Papers, early
  20. ___Thematic Apperception Test Images
  21. ______Slides
  22. ______Prints and negatives
  23. ___Biographical Work on Edward Handy
  24. ___Hitler Study
  25. ______Hitler Study Notes and Analysis
  26. ______Dan Mack Caricatures of Hitler and Nazi Germany
  27. ___Human Nature
  28. ___Icarus Study
  29. ___Memory Study
  30. ___Merrill Moore Study
  31. ___The Possible Nature of Mythology to Come
  32. ___Personality
  33. ______Papers
  34. ______Note cards
  35. ______Personology Schematizations
  36. Psychology and the University
  37. World Government and World Religion
  38. Writings on Student Unrest
  39. Writings on Youth and Alienation
  40. Herman Melville
  41. ___Series 1
  42. ___Series 2
  43. ___Photographs
  44. Notes
  45. ___ Note cards
  46. ___Literary Quotes and Notes
  47. ___Miscellaneous Notes
  48. Teaching
  49. ___Social Relations 218
  50. ___Test Protocol for Social Relations 285
  51. Papers of Christiana Morgan
  52. ___Letters and Personal Writings
  53. ___Photographs of Artwork at Morgan's House
  54. ___Slides

Acquisition Information

  1. Accession 9794 ; received from Henry A. Murray ; 26 July 1983
  2. Accession 11454 ; received from Henry A. Murray via Nina Murray ; 8 July 1988
  3. Accession 11643 ; received from Henry A. Murray via Forrest Robinson ; 2 March 1989
  4. Accession 11951 ; received from Harold McCurdy ; 8 May 1990
  5. Accession 12030 ; received from Mrs. Henry A. Murray via Forrest Robinson ; 16 August 1990
  6. Accession 12102 ; received from Henry A. Murray (via Nina Murray?) ; 5 December 1990
  7. Accession 12326 ; received from Henry A. Murray via Nina Murray ; 26 November 1991
  8. Accession 12427 ; received from Henry A. Murray via Mrs. Henry Murray ; 28 May 1992
  9. Accession 12625 ; received from Mrs. Henry A. Murray ; 28 January 1993

Inventory update

This document last updated 2018 August 7.
Murray, Henry Alexander, 1893- Papers of Henry A. Murray : an inventory
Harvard University Archives
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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