7 linear feet
The Clyde H. Coombs papers document the teaching and research aspects of the career of America's foremost mathematical psychologist. In many ways the collection reflects the close congruence between the teaching and research interests of Coombs. His research ideas permeated his teaching; what he learned while teaching came to be incorporated into his research. If Coombs embodied the model teacher-researcher, the collection only palely reflects this ideal in all save his theory of data research and seminars. This is largely because of a 1974 fire at the Coombs' home which destroyed all the materials he had stored there. Thus the collection, while strong in parts, has significant lacunae, including all documentation of Coombs' work as an editor, his work for the American Psychological Association, and, most importantly, his drafts of Mathematical Psychology. The strength of the collection is its thorough coverage of Coombs' teaching during the 1950s when his seminars and mimeographs of summary lectures justly earned a reputation as groundbreaking work among psychologists. The collection's detailed documentation of Coombs' later research on mathematical psychology will also be of interest to the specialist.
The Coombs papers span the years 1932-1988 and are organized into six series: Vitae and Biographies, Correspondence, Lectures, Student Notebooks, Teaching, and Writing and Research. The first three series reflect Coombs' arrangement scheme and remain in original order. Given the thin line between teaching and research for Coombs, the latter two series might well be viewed as complementary units. The material in these two series was rearranged in the course of processing to bring it into a rough chronological order with similar material (courses or research projects) placed together. In addition to these five series, there is one folder of biographical material in the front of Box 1.