Roe, Anne, 1904-1991

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Anne Roe is a psychologist.

From the description of Papers, 1949-1971 (bulk). (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122364923

Anne Roe (1904-1991) was a clinical psychologist and researcher on various psychological topics before embarking upon major studies of creativity and occupational psychology. Her two major publications were The Making of a Scientist (1953), a study of sixty-four eminent male scientists in biology, physics and the social sciences, and the Psychology of Occupations (1956), in which she attemps to develop a vocational classification system that transcends the Dictionary of Occupational Titles categories.

Roe was the second of four children born in Denver, Colorado to Charles Edwin Roe and Edna Blake. Both of her grandfathers had been prominent in state affairs, her maternal grandfather publishing an early Denver newspaper and her paternal grandfather serving as the Colorado Adjutant General. However, during the 1920s her father’s transport business went bankrupt, and her mother was forced to support the family from her teacher’s salary and the monies earned as a national secretary of the Parent Teacher Association. Since her mother was busy supporting the family, Roe took charge of the household responsibilities, including the care of her siblings. As a result of these experiences, she early developed a sense that she could fix things that were broken and manage what was falling apart. Under her mother’s influence she also came to believe that women can excel and assert themselves in a male-dominated society.

A precocious student, Roe graduated with a B.A. from the University of Denver in 1923, at the age of nineteen. As an undergraduate, she studied methods for assessing differences among students in dental school, between those who went on to become “good” dentists and who did not. She received an M.A. from the University of Denver in 1925, during that time assisting the educational psychologist Thomas Garth, who studied Southwestern ethnic groups. Her Master’s thesis was a critical analysis of Native American intelligence test scores. With Garth’s help she got a position working for Columbia University’s Edward L. Thorndike (1875-1949, APS 1932), one of the founders of modern educational psychology. She received a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Columbia in 1933. Her dissertation was a study of musical aptitudes and the specific kinds of errors musicians make in sight reading. Roe married world-renown paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984, APS 1936) in 1938.

Roe would become best known for research on creativity and the psychology of occupational choice even though she did not have the option of developing a long-range research program, since her research was periodically interrupted by bouts of brucellosis and heart disease, by raising four stepdaughters and by her husband’s demanding academic schedule. Instead, she conducted research on such diverse topics as alcohol education in schools, studies of identical twins raised separately and breast feeding newborns during the first four weeks of life. In 1931 Roe helped her colleague Kathryn McBride in a study assessing the normal intellectual functioning of hospital patients with a variety of medical diagnoses. This study allowed her a first glimpse of the importance of an occupation for a normal, non-intellectually impaired individual’s health and life. In this study she talked to men who liked their otherwise menial jobs, since they afforded them recognition by important people or because the work made them feel superior to others. Roe would incorporate these early insights into her later theories about the job and personal characteristics of eminent scientists or artists.

One biographer noted that Roe’s varied professional and research experiences had a sort of “velcro quality” in the sense that while she met her family’s needs, she would connect with each opportunity that came her way, and make the most of it. Also, she demonstrated a unique “cumulative mental process” by which some part of each preceding research endeavor would become a part of the next. Likewise, some features of an early project, that seemed little more than asides or observations, often turned up in one of her two major works. She also had a special talent for collaborating with colleagues on a variety of research projects. For example, in 1939 she coauthored the book Quantitative Zoology with her husband George because she was convinced that paleontologists knew nothing about statistics, while he recognized that she knew little about paleontology. Consequently, they cooperated in the endeavor.

When her husband George moved to Yale University, Roe got a grant to study the effects of alcohol on artists. In the process of interviewing her subjects about their life histories and administering Rorschach and Thematic Apperception tests, she noticed a strong correlation between an artist’s personality structure variables and the content and style of their works. Around the same time a colleague told her about a Public Health grant to study the lifestyles of scientists. She received the grant that allowed her to study sixty-four eminent male scientists in biology, physics and the social sciences. The study, which employed projective personality and intelligence tests, together with structured interviews, resulted in her 1953 book The Making of a Scientist . Later, she organized much of the data gathered from her studies of artists and scientists in her 1956 Psychology of Occupations. This work employed a new occupational classification system focused upon interests and interpersonal relationships that she based directly upon Abraham Maslow’s personality theory.

In 1959 Roe became the ninth woman to be appointed to Harvard’s faculty, serving in the Graduate School of Education as lecturer, research associate, then professor. Afterward she became the founder and director of the University’s Center for Research on Careers. After they retired in 1967, Roe and her husband George moved to Tucson, Arizona, where they accepted adjunct lectureships at the University of Arizona.

Roe was active in professional psychological organizations, especially the American Psychological Association. From 1953-59 she served on the American Board of Professional Psychology for the American Psychological Association and became president of its Clinical Division in 1957. She served on the Council of Representatives of APA and was a member of APA’s Board of Directors during the early 1960s. She was also recognized for her scholarly accomplishments, receiving the Richardson Creativity Award from the APA in 1968 for her assessment work with scientists and artists. In 1984 she received the Leona Tyler Award from APA’s Division 17 and honorary doctorates Lesley College in 1965 and Kenyon College in 1973. She was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Service from Columbia University Teachers College in 1977 and a Lifetime Career Award in 1967 from the National Vocational Guidance Association.

In addition to her scholarly endeavors, Roe was an excellent cook, who wrote her own cook book. She was a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast and a talented musician. She was a “multifaceted person,” who was comfortable in a variety of roles throughout her life. Roe died on May 29, 1991 at the age of 86, after a long illness. She was predeceased by her husband George, who died in 1984. She was survived by her three stepdaughters Helen, Joan and Elizabeth; six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

From the guide to the Anne Roe papers, 1949-1974 (bulk), 1949-1974, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), 1892-1974. Papers, 1892-1981. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Alfred Irving Hallowell Papers, 1892-1981 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Shakow, David, 1901-1981. David Shakow papers, 1898-1981. University of Akron, Bierce Library
creatorOf Anne Roe papers, 1949-1974 (bulk), 1949-1974 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn George Gaylord Simpson Papers, 1918-1984 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Roe, Anne, 1904-1991. Papers, 1949-1971 (bulk). American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Morse, Philip McCord papers Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries
referencedIn Sewall Wright Papers, 1885-1988 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Drews, Elizabeth Monroe, 1915-. Elizabeth Drews papers, 1942-1979. University of Akron, Bierce Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allport, Gordon W. (Gordon Willard), 1897-1967. person
associatedWith Alvarez, Luis W., 1911-1988. person
associatedWith Anderson, Edgar, 1897-1969. person
associatedWith Babcock, Horace Welcone, 1912- person
associatedWith Beach, Frank A. (Frank Ambrose), 1911-1988. person
associatedWith Beadle, George Wells, 1903-1989. person
associatedWith Beams, Jesse Wakefield, 1898-1977. person
associatedWith Bearden, J. A. (Joyce Alvin), 1903- person
associatedWith Bearden, J. A. (Joyce Alvin), 1903-1987 person
associatedWith Bonner, James Frederick, 1910- person
associatedWith Bruner, Jerome S. (Jerome Seymour) person
associatedWith Cleland, Ralph E., (Ralph Erskine), 1892-1971 person
associatedWith Cleland, Ralph Erskine, 1892-1971. person
associatedWith Coon, Carleton Stevens, 1904- person
associatedWith Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981. person
associatedWith Doisy, Edward Adelbert, 1893-1986. person
associatedWith Drews, Elizabeth Monroe, 1915- person
associatedWith Epling, Carl Clawson, 1894-1968. person
associatedWith Ewing, W. Maurice (William Maurice), 1906-1974. person
associatedWith Furry, W. H. (Wendel Hinkle), 1907- person
associatedWith Furry, W. H. (Wendell Hinkle), 1907-1984 person
associatedWith Guilford, J. P. (Joy Paul), 1897- person
associatedWith Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), 1892-1974. person
associatedWith Hansen, W. W. (William Webster), 1909-1949. person
associatedWith Harlow, Harry F. (Harry Frederick), 1905-1981. person
associatedWith Hilgard, Ernest R. (Ernest Ropiequet), 1904-2001. person
associatedWith Joseph Edward, Mayer, 1904-1983 person
associatedWith Kirkwood, John Gamble, 1907-1959. person
associatedWith Kluckhohn, Clyde, 1905-1960. person
associatedWith Knudsen, Vern Oliver, 1893-1974. person
associatedWith Lashley, Karl Spencer, 1890-1958. person
associatedWith Lindsey, Donald B. person
associatedWith Lindsey, Donald B. person
associatedWith Linton, Ralph, 1893-1953. person
associatedWith Mayer, Joseph Edward, 1904- person
associatedWith McMillan, Edwin M. (Edwin Mattison), 1907- person
associatedWith McMillan, Edwin M. (Edwin Mattison), 1907-1991 person
associatedWith Morse, Philip M. (Philip McCord), 1903-1985. person
associatedWith Mueller, J. Howard (John Howard), 1891-1954. person
associatedWith Muller, H. J. (Hermann Joseph), 1890-1967. person
associatedWith Mulliken, Robert Sanderson, 1896- person
associatedWith Muskat, M. (Morris), 1906-1998 person
associatedWith Muskat, M. (Morris), 1907- person
associatedWith Northrop, John Howard. person
associatedWith Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994. person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Rhoades, Marcus Morton, 1903- person
associatedWith Richter, Curt Paul, 1894-1988. person
associatedWith Ritcher, Curt Paul, 1894-1994 person
associatedWith Robbins, William Jacob, 1890-1978. person
associatedWith Robertson, H. P. (Howard Percy), 1903-1961. person
associatedWith Rogers, Carl R. (Carl Ransom), 1902- person
associatedWith Romer, Alfred Sherwood, 1894-1973. person
associatedWith Schwinger, Julian, 1918-1994. person
associatedWith Sears, Robert R. (Robert Richardson) person
associatedWith Shakow, David, 1901-1981. person
associatedWith Shapiro, Harry L. (Harry Lionel), 1902-1990 person
associatedWith Simpson, George Gaylord, 1902-1984 person
associatedWith Skinner, B. F. (Burrhus Frederic), 1904-1990. person
associatedWith Smith, Homer William, 1895-1962. person
associatedWith Sonneborn, T. M. (Tracy Morton), 1905-1981. person
associatedWith Stanley, Wendell Meredith, 1932- person
associatedWith Stanley, Wendell M., (Wendell Meredith), 1904- person
associatedWith Stebbins, G. Ledyard (George Ledyard), 1906-2000. person
associatedWith Stevens, S. S. (Stanley Smith), 1906-1973. person
associatedWith Stewart, Homer Joseph, 1915- person
associatedWith Stewart, Homer Joseph, 1915-2007 person
associatedWith Stratton, Julius Adams, 1901-1994. person
associatedWith Strong, William Duncan, 1899-1962. person
associatedWith Sturtevant, A. H. (Alfred Henry), 1891- person
associatedWith Tuve, Merle Antony, 1901-1982. person
associatedWith Van Vleck, J. H. (John Hasbrouck), 1899-1980. person
associatedWith Willey, Gordon R. (Gordon Randolph), 1913-2002. person
associatedWith Wright, Sewall, 1889-1988. person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1904

Death 1991-05-29





Ark ID: w6z913kv

SNAC ID: 40801019