Guide to the Arthur W. Combs Papers

Processed by David C. Gartrell
Department of Special Collections
Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
© 2002
Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


Social Sciences--Psychology>

Guide to the Arthur W. Combs Papers, 1949-1979

Collection number: HPA Mss 6

Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara

Contact Information:

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Davidson Library
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara, CA 93106
  • Phone: (805) 893-3062
  • Fax: (805) 893-5749
  • Email:
  • URL:
    Processed by:
    David C. Gartrell
    Date Completed:
    02 May 2002
    Encoded by:
    David C. Gartrell
© 2002 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Arthur W. Combs Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1949-1979
Collection Number: HPA Mss 6
Creator: Combs, Arthur W. 1912-.
Extent: .6 linear feet (2 boxes)
Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical Location: Del Norte
Abstract: Bibliography and annotated proofs/drafts from psychologist and educator Arthur W. Combs.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions


Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Arthur W. Combs Papers. HPA Mss 6. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Arthur W. Combs in 1989.


Arthur W. Combs (1912-1999) was a psychologist/educator who began his academic career as a teacher of biological sciences and a school psychologist in the public schools of Alliance, OH (1935-1941). He earned a Master's degree in School Counseling at Ohio State University (1941) and entered the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at that institution, where Carl Rogers served as a teacher and mentor. He completed his Ph.D. in 1945.
His professional career was based at three institutions: Syracuse University (where he helped organize a psychoeducational clinic open to the community, developed a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology and served as Director of Clinical Training and head of Personal Counseling Services (1943-1954); the University of Florida, where he held a dual appointment in the Department of Personnel Services and the Educational Foundations Department and also taught for a time in the Department of Psychology (1954-1976); and at the University of Northern Colorado as a Distinguished Professor (during the 1980s).
In 1949, he was elected President of the New York State Psychological Association and that same year he co-authored (with Donald L. Snygg) Individual Behavior: A New Frame of Reference for Psychology. This book presented a comprehensive and systematic framework for making better sense of human experience, behavior, and the relationship between the two. Known as "Perceptual Psychology" and later "Field Psychology," its primary assertion was that people behave in accordance with personal meanings or perceptions, especially how they perceive themselves, the situations they are in and the purposes they are trying to achieve. More recent formulations were published as Perceptual Psychology: A Humanistic Approach to the Study of Persons (with Anne C. Richards & Fred Richards, 1976), and Being and Becoming: A Field Approach to Psychology (1999).
Art spent most of his career establishing, refining, researching, and implementing this theoretical position and sharing insights and implications derived from it in clinical, counseling, educational, and other settings. His publications explored implications of Perceptual Field Theory for better understanding goals and purposes of education and teacher preparation ( Perceiving, Behaving, Becoming, 1962; The Professional Education of Teachers, 1965; Myths of Education, 1979) and for better discriminating between good and poor professional "helpers" such as teachers, therapists, ministers, public officials, etc. ( Florida Studies in the Helping Professions, 1969; The Schools We Need: New Assumptions for Educational Reform, 1991; Helping Relationships: Basic Concepts for the Helping Professions [with Donald Avila & Williams W. Purkey in 1971; with David Gonzalez in 1994]; On becoming a school leader: A person-centered challenge [with Ann B. Miser & Kathryn Whitaker, 1999]). One of Art's often-quoted articles, "Intelligence from a Perceptual Point of View," was published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (1952).
By the end of the 1960s, Art's consulting and speaking engagements had taken him to every state of the United States and into six other countries. He had published nearly 100 articles and several books and monographs on psychology, education, and therapeutic practice which had gone into revisions and were translated into other languages.
Among other awards and honors he received were the following: and Outstanding Research Award from the American Personnel and Guidance Association, now the American Counseling Association (1963); election as President of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD - 1966); the John Dewey Society Award for distinguished service to contemporary education for his "signal contributions to teaching, educational theory, and educational research" (1967). In 1998 he received the Charlotte and Karl Buhler Award from Division 32 of the American Psychological Association for his "ground-breaking contributions to psychological theory, educational reform and research in the helping professions."
--biography from the Field Psych Trust.

Scope and Content of Collection

Collection consists of a bibliography of Combs's writings, and annotated proofs and drafts of three of his books, Individual Behavior (1949), Helping Relationships, and Myths of Education (both 1979).

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Combs, Arthur W. 1912-.

Collection Contents

Box 1: 1


Box 1: 2

Individual Behavior, p. 1-171, Draft of, 1949

Box 1: 3

Individual Behavior, p.172-365, Draft of, 1949

Box 1: 4

Individual Behavior, p. 366-553, Draft of, 1949

Box 1: 5

Individual Behavior, p. 554-714, Draft of, 1949

Box 1: 6

Helping Relationships, p. 10-175, Proofs of, 1979

Box 1: 7

Helping Relationships, p. 176-350, Proofs of, 1979

Box 2: 1

Helping Relationships, p. 351-498, Proofs of, 1979

Box 2: 2

Helping Relationships, p. 499-580, Proofs of, 1979

Box 2: 3

Myths in Education, p. 1-119, Draft of, 1979

Box 2: 4

Myths in Education, p. 120-135, Draft of, 1979