Katharine M. Banham papers, 1910-1995

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Banham, Katharine M., b. 1897
Katharine May Banham (1897-1995) served as a professor in the Department of Psychology at Duke University from 1946 to 1967, specializing in child psychology and development. Papers include correspondence, writings, speeches, case files and research notes, teaching materials, diaries, memorabilia, photographs, and oral history interviews of Katharine M. Banham, relating to her work in the field of psychology and her contributions to Duke University, Durham, and North Carolina. Prominent subjects include psychological experimentation, child psychology, geriatrics and gerontology, human social and emotional development, children with cerebral palsy, the Woman's College, Duke Preschool, Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement, the North Carolina Psychological Association, the Durham Child Guidance Clinic, and the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Includes information about Banham's involvement in Durham, N.C. clubs and organizations related to the arts and community health.
26 Linear Feet
Materials in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates > 02 -- Individuals


Scope and content:

The Katharine May Banham Papers span the years between 1910 and 1995, with the bulk occurring between 1945 and 1984. These papers include her master's theses and dissertation work, professional and academic writings, case files, and data documenting psychological experiments that culminated in the development of tests, as well as research articles and one monograph; transcripts of talks and addresses; translations of French psychological texts, teaching materials; administrative records of and records documenting her role in various civic and academic clubs and organizations; professional and personal correspondence; and personal materials including art, photographs, memorabilia, poetry and other personal writings, diaries, biographical information, legal documents, and tapes and transcripts of an oral history interview done in 1980. The main subject areas include Banham's contribution to the profession, her participation in the Duke community, and the Durham community as well as regional, national, and international communities and agencies. [Note: materials in this collection may use outdated terms such as "mentally retarded" to refer to people, especially children, with mental disabilities. These terms appear in some folder titles.]

The collection chiefly reflects Banham's career as a woman psychologist during a period when there was little support for women in professional or academic careers. The papers document Banham's research and teaching in three countries; her contributions in the areas of child psychology and geriatrics, particularly human social and emotional development; functioning and development of children with cerebral palsy and mental or physical disabilities; the history and especially the development of psychological testing of children and adults; and parapsychological phenomena. Research and teaching materials are located within the Academic and Professional Psychology series and Duke Activities series. Materials relevant to Banham's professional development are scattered throughout all five series.

The collection is also important for the perspective it offers on the Duke University Psychology Department and the Woman's College during the 1940s to the 1960s. Information related to both as well as her role in the Admissions and scholarships Committees among other faculty committees (see the folder list located in the description of Duke Activities series), the Duke Preschool, the Duke Film Society, and the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement can be found primarily in the Duke Activities series. Material regarding the development and teaching of an infant and child psychology curriculum and a series of correspondence with graduate students are also of special interest and can be found in the Duke Activities series. Other materials relating to her contributions to the Duke Community are located in the Academic and Professional Psychology series, the Correspondence series, and the Personal Files series.

Banham's contribution to the city of Durham is reflected in the Agency and Club Participation series with the most in depth materials relating to her role in establishing the French Club, the Photographic Arts Society, the Altrusa Club, and the Committee for Successful Aging (which became the Golden Age Society and finally, the Coordinating Council for Senior Citizens), and, to a lesser degree, in the Academic and Professional Psychology series specifically in her role as one of the founding psychologists of the Durham Child Guidance Clinic. Banham co-founded the North Carolina Psychological Association in addition to being an active member and officer of other regional, national, and international organizations such as the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, and the International Council of Women Psychologists.

Banham's life was defined by her professional and academic commitments and so her closest relationships were with her colleagues and the many individuals to whom she gave her time and the benefit of her professional skills. The Correspondence and personal series best reflect her tireless efforts on behalf of the people with whom she come into contact. Her papers are particularly useful as they document the period of the 1920s through the 1960s in England, Canada, and especially the United States from the perspective of a highly educated, professional woman.

Biographical / historical:

Katharine May Banham was born 26 May, 1897, Sheffield, England and died 7 May, 1995, in Buckinghamshire, England. Educated at University of Manchester (England), BS., 1919; Cambridge University (England), M.S., 1921, though this institution did not award degrees to women at that time; University of Toronto (Canada), MA., 1923; and University of Montreal, Ph.D., 1934 (Cum Laude), the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. from that university.

After faculty and professional positions in Canada, England, Iowa, and New Jersey, Banham was appointed to the Duke University faculty of psychology as Associate Professor in 1946 and Duke University Associate Professor of Psychology, Emerita in 1967. She was appointed Senior Psychologist at the North Carolina Board of Public Welfare in 1950. In addition to summer positions at the New Jersey Children's Home Society (1948), Children's Services of Cleveland, Ohio (1950), and visiting professor at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. (1960 and 1962), Banham was appointed as Head Psychologist of the Infant Program at the North Carolina Cerebral Palsy Hospital in 1967 and Consulting Psychologist at Lenox Baker Hospital (formerly called the N.C. Cerebral Palsy Hospital) in 1980. Banham cofounded the Duke University Nursery School in 1946, with Dr. Wally Reichenberg-Hackett, helped to establish the Duke Film Society and the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement, served in various faculty committees, developed a freshman counseling program, and created psychology courses in the area of infant and child development.

Outside of the Duke community, Banham helped to establish many organizations including the Child Guidance Clinic of Durham; the Committee for Successful Aging; the North Carolina Psychological Association; the Altrusa Club, an all-women philanthropic organization; the French Club; and the Photographic Arts Society of Durham. She was a member and officer of many professional organizations in the United States and abroad. She established and funded the Alice C. Hundley Piano Student Award in 1970, for promising piano players between twelve and fourteen years old and the Anne McDougall Memorial Award for women in 1985, for women students to pursue study in the broad area of psychology whose education has been interrupted or who have not had the opportunity for college education. Honors and awards received by her include the N.C. Cerebral Palsy Award for Merit (1972) as well as certificates and awards of recognition and merit from regional, national, and international organizations. Published in both English and French, major publications include The Social and Emotional Development of the Preschool Child, (London: Kegan Paul, 1931) and Ring and Peg Tests of Behavior Development, (Chicago: Psychometric Affiliates, 1965).

Acquisition information:
The University Archives received this collection as a transfer in 1977, 1992, and 1995.
Processing information:

Processed by Laura Micham, November 1996.

Encoded by Joshua McKim, December 2002; Jill Katte, April 2003

Collection guide updated (restriction removed) and description enhanced by Paula Jeannet, August 2022.

Folder list for Academic and professional psychology series created and finding aid updated by Vladimir Lukin and Tracy M Jackson, September 2022.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Access note. Materials that have been designated by library staff as personally identifiable and relate to psychological evaluations and testing are restricted. The RL Sensitive Materials Request form is available here: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8fblaT2NbgbQujj.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Katharine M. Banham papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.