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HUGFP 97.xx

Murray, Henry Alexander, 1893- Papers of Henry A. Murray : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUGFP 97.xx
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Murray, Henry Alexander, 1893-
Title: Papers of Henry A. Murray, 1925-1988
Date(s): 1925-1988
Quantity: 37 cubic feet (131 containers)
Abstract: Henry A. Murray (1893-1988) American psychologist and Harvard professor, was a pioneer in the development of personality theory.

Acquisition Information:

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


    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.
    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. From 1948-1952, with the help of Morgan and others, he developed the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), which could be used to assess an individual's personality and self-understanding. Murray was a central figure in the interdisciplinary Department of Social Relations. He retired from Harvard 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

    Scope of the Papers of Henry A. Murray

    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.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2016 November 9.

    Container List