Thurstone, L. L. (Louis Leon), 1887-1955

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The Psychometric Laboratory at the University of Chicago was established and directed by psychologist L.L. Thurstone (1887-1955) in the 1930’s. L.L. Thurstone was born on May 29th, 1887 in Chicago, IL to Conrad and Sofia Thurstone. He received his Engineering degree from Cornell University in 1912. Following two years of teaching drafting at the University of Minnesota, Thurstone enrolled as a graduate student of Psychology at the University of Chicago (1914) and received his doctorate in 1917. He married Thelma Gwinn in 1924. In 1952, Thurstone was hired by the University of North Carolina where he established a new Psychometric Laboratory. He died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on September 29th, 1955.

Thurstone’s primary interests were in the fields of test theory, psychophysics, and the measurement of aptitude, and he was among a core group of scientists who established the Psychometric Society and its journal Psychometrika, the first journal dedicated to the study of quantitative testing. In collaboration with his wife and colleague, Thelma Gwinn, Thurstone created and conducted a series of tests that sought to quantitatively measure human mental abilities. These tests were later taken over by the Educational Testing Service (formed in 1948). His work in primal abilities has influenced in programs of personnel selection, and educational and vocational guidance and his larger work has had a lasting impact in quantitative measuring and methodology.

Through the Psychometric Laboratory at the University of Chicago, Thurstone designed and employed a significant number of quantitative tests to measure human mental abilities. Founded and directed by Dr. Thurstone, it is unclear how long the University of Chicago Psychometric Laboratory remained active, following his move to the University of North Carolina.

From the guide to the University of Chicago. Psychometric Laboratory. Records, 1944-1952, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bingham, Walter Van Dyke, 1880-1952. person
associatedWith Boder, David P. (David Pablo), 1886-1961. person
associatedWith Hagen, Clarence person
associatedWith Thurstone, Thelma Gwinn person
associatedWith University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. General Faculty. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1887-05-29

Death 1955-09-29





Ark ID: w6jh74f3

SNAC ID: 34051444