Fonds MG1045 - Donald Olding Hebb Fonds

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Donald Olding Hebb Fonds

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  • 1933-1977 (Creation)
    Hebb, D. O. (Donald Olding)

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3.9 m of textual records.

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Biographical history

D.O. Hebb, one of the outstanding psychologists of this century, was born in Nova Scotia July 20th, 1904. He was educated at Dalhousie (B.A., 1925) and McGill (M.A. 1932). He taught briefly in public schools. While recovering from a serious illness, he read the works of Pavlov and Karl Lashley and became interested in psychology. He studied under Lashley in Chicago and at Harvard, where he received his Ph.D. in 1936. Hebb then conducted research on brain-damaged patients with Wilder Penfield at the Montreal Neurological Institute (1937-1939), and after teaching at Queen's (1941-1942), went to the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology as research fellow (1942-1947). In 1947 he came to McGill as Professor of psychology, serving as chairman of the department (1948-1959), Vice-Dean for biological sciences (1964-1966), and finally Chancellor of the University (1970-1972). He passed away on August 20th, 1985.

Custodial history

Hebb donated his records to the McGill Archives on November 17th, 1971. Following this, he continued to periodically send his incoming correspondence to the Archives.

Scope and content

Fonds are exclusively concerned with Hebb’s work as a research psychologist and professor. Hebb's research is documented by two types of material: his correspondence, and his files on research projects. Incoming and copies of outgoing letters from ca 1934 to ca 1977 are overwhelmingly scientific in character, discussing psychological theories and their criticism, research problems, the ethics of experimentation and funding. A second section of correspondence deals with learned societies and funding organizations (1959-1977). Project files contain reports to funding bodies, and, in particular, research files and reports for Defense Research Board projects, 1950-1962 (restricted); there are also files on the administration of research grants (1964-1973), largely dealing with appointments, payroll and travel funds.

Publications - his own, and others sent to him for evaluation - are the subject of correspondence with various publishers, 1950-1977. Files of notes, correspondence, reviews, and comments concerning Hebb's own books and articles cover the years 1933 to 1971. These papers also contains original drafts for 14 monographs, articles and speeches (1941-1959), including a draft of The Organization of Behavior with Karl Lashley's comments.

Course materials, and papers by and about his students, reveal Hebb's teaching activities. Lecture notes survive for about 120 addresses to seminars, colloquia and associations (1938-1976) and there are files of lecture notes, class materials and bibliographies for McGill courses, particularly "Introduction to Psychology" (Psychology 200). About 75 slides illustrate Hebb's addresses on "Thought and Language", "Semi-autonomous processes" and other topics (ca 1962-1972). Student materials consist of files of letters of recommendation and correspondence (1947-1977) with and about students, teaching assistants, and members of Hebb's research team. As well, there are 15 original and 4 volumes of photocopied undergraduate research papers (1959-1962) and copies of 42 graduate theses supervised by Hebb (1947-1972).

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Hebb's files as Chancellor of McGill are available in the Records Management section of the McGill University Archives (see Record Group 1).

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1376; 1571; 2364; 91-040; 96-117

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