Mary Whiton Calkins
Researched and written by:  Nakeyva Brice
I attest that the following biography is a product of my own original work..

  • Mary Whiton Calkins was born Mar. 30, 1863 in Hartford, Conn. to Wolcott Calkins and Mary Whiton and died Feb. 26, 1930. Calkins was the eldest of five children, two daughters and three sons. The early part of her life was spent in Buffalo where her father was the minister of the North Presbyterian Church. In 1880 the family moved to Newton, Mass., which was where she stayed for the rest of her life.
  •  She received her A.B. from Smith College in 1885 and A.M. in 1888. In 1886 she studied at Leipzig University. When she returned from Europe she accepted a position as a tutor of Greek at Wellesley College, and she stayed there for over forty years. In 1890, while teaching, she studied psychology under Edmund C. Sanford at Clark University and began also her studies at Harvard while there she worked under William James, Josiah Royce, and later Hugo Münsterberg [qq.v.]. She became one of Royce's most devoted followers and by 1896 she had fulfilled the requirements for her Ph.D. with, but the university could not grant the degree to a woman.

  •         In 1890 Calkins was appointed as an instructor of psychology at Wellesley and established the first psychological laboratory at any woman's college. Since she was a teacher of philosophy and psychology she was able to influenced large numbers of young women.  Her own investigations and studies took form in several published works. Her concept of the self as being fundamental in psychology is clear in her first book titled An Introduction to Psychology (1901). Her most important book, The Persistent Problems of Philosophy, published in 1907, was followed in 1918 by a brief study in ethics, The Good Man and the Good.

  •       She wrote many articles that were published in scholarly journals. Her clear analysis of the self from the psychological and philosophical points of view is considered to probably be her greatest contribution to American thought.
  •         In 1905 she was elected president of the American Psychological Association and was the first woman to hold that position. In 1918 she was elected president of the American Philosophical Association and in 1928 she became an honorary member of the British Psychological Association.
  •        Miss Calkins also contributed greatly to the social movements of that time; she was associated with the Consumer's League and the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1929 she terminated her active connection with Wellesley College and was appointed research professor.
  •       She retired to her home in Newton with her mother and planned to finish a book on religion, unfortunately she never write the book. She died in February 1930 after four months of serious illness.





Contemporary Authors Online, Gale,  (2005).  Reproduced in biography resource center.

    Retrieved March 28, 2005 from



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