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Carl E. Seashore Papers

Identifier: RG99.0164

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The Carl E. Seashore papers consists of publications, correspondence, and other ephemera relating to the head of psychology and Dean of the Graduate College. Seashore was instrumental in the University's decision in 1922 to accept creative work in lieu of theses for graduate degrees in the fine and performing arts, the first public university in the United States to do so. Notably, this collection contains the "Seashore Measures of Musical Talent," one of the first talent assessments to gain world-wide recognition.


  • Creation: 1925-1960


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Carl Emil Seashore was born on January 28, 1866, in Mörlunda, Hultsfred Municipality, Kalmar County, Sweden to Carl Gustav and Emily Sjostrand. He emigrated with his family to the United States in 1870 and settled in Iowa. The name "Seashore" is a translation of the Swedish surname Sjöstrand. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota in 1891, having studied mathematics, music, and classical languages and literature. During his years in college he served as the organist and choir director of a Swedish-Lutheran church and his salary there paid most of his college expenses. Seashore attended Yale when that school had just opened its psychology department under George Trumbull Ladd. In 1895, Seashore was awarded the school's first Ph. D in psychology for his dissertation on the role of inhibition in learning.

After a trip to Europe and a subsequent fellowship at Yale, he accepted a permanent position at the University of Iowa where he spent the remaining 50 years of his life. There, he was eventually made chairman of the department of psychology and Dean of the Graduate School. He was instrumental in the University's decision in 1922 to accept creative work in lieu of theses for graduate degrees in the fine and performing arts, the first public university in the United States to do so.

Seashore was particularly interested in audiology, the psychology of music, the psychology of speech and stuttering, the psychology of the graphic arts and measuring motivation and scholastic aptitude. He devised the Seashore Tests of Musical Ability in 1919, a version of which is still used in schools in the United States. His interests in the fine arts led to a joint effort with Professor Norman Meier and the publication of the Meier-Seashore Art Judgment Test in 1929. His complete publication list from 1893 to 1949 includes 237 books and articles.

Carl E. Seashore died October 16, 1949.


2.06 Linear Feet (6 containers)

Language of Materials


Physical Access Requirements

The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on Property Rights, usecoll Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials

Method of Acquisition

Guide posted to the Internet January 2007.

Related Materials

Faculty and Staff Vertical Files Collection, folder "Seashore, Carl E." (RG01.0015.003)

Miles, Walter R. In Biographical Memoirs (pages 256-316). New York: Columbia University Press, 1956.

Stoddard, George D. "Carl Emil Seashore: 1866-1949." In The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 63, No. 3 (July 1950), pp. 456-462, University of Illinois Press.

  • University of Iowa commemorative plates (Box 1).
In Progress
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242