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E. Paul Torrance Collection

Processed by Jeff Wells 

Biographical Note

E. Paul Torrance, born on a farm in Milledgeville, Georgia in 1915, received his undergraduate degree from Mercer University. He went on to receive his master's degree from the University of Minnesota and his doctorate from the University of Michigan.  He began his professional career as a high school and junior college teacher, counselor and administrator, developing his first creativity test at Georgia Military College. In 1945, he became a counselor of disabled veterans at the University of Minnesota Counseling Bureau. He was inducted in the U.S. Army and served as a psychiatric social worker and psychologist where he interviewed, tested and counseled men who had been court marshaled. Upon his discharge, Torrance joined the counseling bureau at Kansas State University and later became dean of men, counseling bureau director and professor of psychology. In 1951, he became director of the Survival Research Field Unit of the U.S. Air Force Advanced Survival School. In 1958, he returned to the University of Minnesota and served as director of the Bureau of Educational Research until 1966.

Torrance also spent time in the world of academia, serving in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota and the University of Georgia, the latter of which he chaired. As UGA professor of educational psychology, he invented the benchmark method for quantifying creativity and arguably created the platform for all research on the subject since. The "Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking" helped shatter the theory that IQ tests alone were sufficient to gauge real intelligence. The tests solidified what heretofore was only conceptual – namely that creative levels can be scaled and then increased through practice.

In addition to developing the most widely used tests of creativity, Torrance also created the Future Problem Solving Program, and developed the Incubation Model of Teaching. He authored dozens of books and more than 2,000 published articles on creativity during the course of his career, making him one of the most published faculty members in UGA's history.

He remained prolific after his retirement, writing several new books on creativity.   Some of his best-known books are Guiding Creative Talent, Rewarding Creative Behavior, The Search for Satori and Creativity, The Incubation Model of Teaching, and Mentor Relationships and Why Fly?  His most recent books are such co-authored works as Gifted and Talented Children in the Regular Classroom, Multicultural Mentoring of the Gifted and Talented, Making the Creative Leap Beyond, and Spiritual Intelligence: Developing Higher Consciousness.  Torrance's 2001 book, Manifesto: A Guide to Developing a Creative Career, includes the results of his 40-year longitudinal study of creativity – the only one of its kind.  A film, Manifesto for Children, documenting Torrance's life and work was broadcast on Georgia Public TV in the fall of 2000. The documentary focused on the longitudinal study that followed 215 young adults who attended two elementary schools in Minnesota from 1958 to 1964.

Torrance served as chair of the department of educational psychology at UGA from 1966-78. He developed the Future Problem Solving program in 1974 as an academic activity for gifted students at Clarke Central High School in Athens, GA. By 1977, the activities had grown into a yearlong program with interscholastic competitions and became international in scope. Today, an estimated 300,000 students in grades K-12 in 41 states and several foreign countries are involved in the futures studies and creative problem-solving activities comprising the FPSP.

The Torrance Center for Creative Studies, based in the College of Education's department of educational psychology, was established after Torrance's retirement in 1984 to continue his scholarly inquiry into the study, development and evaluation of gifted and creative abilities in individual from diverse age groups, cultures, and economic backgrounds.

Torrance died on July 12, 2003.

Scope and Content

The collection contains several of the books written by Torrance on creativity and gifted children. These materials are from the 1960s and 1970s. There are a number of scholarly articles written and published by Torrance, as well as copies of digests, journals, and books series where Torrance's articles and works have appeared. The collection's strength is mainly in the area of Torrance's work in the field of education. There are no personal letters, memoirs, scrapbooks of photos, or personal journals. There is one folder of personal photographs. There is no personal correspondence to or from Torrance and the collection does not draw together his life, but rather is a reflection on his professional research and findings.

Provenance and Arrangement

These papers consist mainly of materials produced by E. Paul Torrance. The collection is mainly scholarly articles, speeches, books, pamphlets, tests, scoring manuals, guides, and research written and conducted by Torrance during his scholastic career in the field of educational psychology. The collection is divided by physical content, i.e., books, journals, pamphlets, booklets, speeches, articles, newspaper clippings and photographs.

Additional Information about the E. Paul Torrance Collection 

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