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Donald B. Lindsley papers, 1866-2001
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Items Removed from the Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Donald B. Lindsley papers
    Date (inclusive): 1866-2001
    Collection number: 423
    Creator: Lindsley, Donald Benjamin
    Extent: 97 document boxes (48.5 linear ft.) 4 half document boxes (1 linear ft.) 4 shoe boxes 2 flat oversize boxes 1 magazine box 3 LP boxes
    Abstract: Donald B. Lindsley was an early pioneer of the electroencephalogram (EEG) and an internationally recognized psychologist and brain scientist. Originally from Ohio, Lindsley worked throughout the United States and spent the last half of his career at UCLA where he was instrumental in founding UCLA's Brain Research Institute. Nearly half of this collection is constituted by Lindsley's correspondence spanning over 70 years. The remainder of the collection consists of reprints, typescripts of papers and talks, research notes, research and technical data, audiovisual material, and autobiographical ephemera that date from the late nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. All materials are stored off site and require advance notice for use. Please contact History and Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 310.825.6940, to arrange for use.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. All materials are stored off site and require advance notice for use. Please contact History and Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 310.825.6940, to arrange for use.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Biomedical Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish if the Biomedical Library does not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Margaret Lindsley, 2002.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Jason Richard Miller in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, 2009-2010.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia   funds.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Donald B. Lindsley papers (Manuscript collection 423). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6484296 


    Donald Benjamin Lindsley was born in 1907 in Brownhelm, Ohio. He attended nearby Wittenberg College (now University), graduating in 1929 with a major in Psychology under mentor Martin Luther Reymert. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa under the supervision of Carl Seashore and Edward Lee Travis. In 1931 Lindsley gained passage to Europe on a Holland-America Line ship by playing coronet in a University of Iowa based jazz band called, "The Four Aces." At Iowa he met Ellen Ford, whom he married in 1933. They had four children and remained married until Ellen's death in 2002.
    Lindsley spent 1932-1933 as an instructor at the University of Illinois. In 1933 he was awarded a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship and spent a year at Harvard Medical School. In 1934-1935 the fellowship was renewed and Lindsley worked at Massachusetts General Hospital. During his time in the Boston area he was a colleague of Hallowell Davis, Walter Cannon, Alexander Forbes and Albert Grass. He also got to know Edwin G. Boring, who at the time was establishing an independent psychology department at Harvard, and B. F. Skinner, a member of Henry A. Murray's Psychological Clinic. During this fellowship he assisted in pioneering work with the electromyogram and was a subject participant in Harvard's early electroencephalogram (EEG) study.
    In 1935 Lindsley received a three-year position as a research associate at Western Reserve University and the Brush Foundation. Here he collected over one hundred and fifty EEGs and studied the responses of visual and auditory stimulation, biofeedback, and taught developmental psychology. A year later Lindsley became an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University and the Director of Psychology and Neurophysiology at Bradley Hospital. He spent the years 1942-1945 as the civilian Director of a Radar Operator Research and Training Program in the Army's southern signal corps school in Florida. In 1946 Lindsley joined Horace W. (Tid) Magoun at Northwestern University where they researched how the nervous system mediates behavior and states of consciousness. Here Lindsley chaired a panel on the psychology and physiology of undersea warfare: an early example of human factors and human engineering research.
    In 1951 Lindsley followed Magoun to UCLA to take up a joint professorship in the Psychology department and the new UCLA School of Medicinel. Here Lindsley's research focused on neurophysiology of the visual system and the psychological aspects of vision. Lindsley, along with Magoun and Charles (Tom) Sawyer, arranged for some research space at the Long Beach VA Hospital. In 1959 they established the Brain Research Institute joined by Dr. John D. French and Theodore Bullock. Due to the growing number of visiting scientists and students the Brain Research Institute came to be housed in an 11-story building in UCLA's medical complex in 1961. In 1967 Lindsley was a crew member of the Alpha Helix, a Scripps Institute research vessel, which explored the Amazon. In 1977 Lindsley retired from UCLA at the age of 70.
    Donald Lindsley was one of the first scientists to use the new technique of electroencephalography (EEG) to research and study electrical brain activity. His interdisciplinary approach to brain research yielded important contributions in understanding various aspects of brain behavior. He published seminal papers in 1949-1950 with Horace Magoun, which defined the brainstem activating systems that support wakefulness and arousal. In addition to pioneering brain research Lindsley was known as an unpretentious and affable colleague and a nurturing mentor to the many students and researchers who passed through his labs. He keenly followed his students' careers by carrying on correspondences with many of them for decades.
    Throughout his career Lindsley authored and co-authored over two-hundred and forty publications, sponsored nearly fifty Ph.D. candidates, and hosted approximately eighty post-doctoral and visiting scientists. He was an invited speaker at more than fifty symposia, conferences, and celebrations. He gave over forty invited lectures at various colleges and universities, including Harvard's prestigious William James Lectures in 1958. He received honorary doctorates from Brown University in 1958, Wittenberg University in 1959, Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut in 1965, Loyola University in Chicago in 1969, and Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany in 1977. Lindsley was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1952, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1965, and gained Foreign Membership in the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in 1987. The Society of Neuroscience has honored Lindsley since 1979 by annually awarding the Donald B. Lindsley Prize to talented young brain scientists.
    Donald B. Lindsley died on July 19, 2003, in Santa Monica, California at the age of 95.

    Scope and Content

    The papers of Donald B. Lindsley span the years 1866-2001. Included are correspondence (with occasional marginal notes; carbon copies are filed with the letters received, and significant correspondence are often photocopied); publication reprints; typescripts of publications, talks and lectures; bibliographical and research notes (mostly relating to the electroencephalogram); grants; students' theses and papers; research materials relating to the Alpha Helix Amazon expedition of 1967; technical and administrative materials related to Grass Instruments; translations of Russian scientists' publications (although most of the unpublished translations were inadvertently thrown away during a garage-cleaning); photographs; slides; films (including copies of his film Psychologists Here, There, and Everywhere, which documents hundreds of scientists at the annual American Psychological Association meetings from 1946 to 1957); audiotapes; education (from grade school to graduate school); awards and honors; newspaper and magazine clippings; family, childhood, and hometown; autobiographical miscellany.
    Significant correspondence includes W. Ross Adey, Edgar D. Adrian, Peter (Pyotr) Anokhin, Frank A. Beach, Ludy T. Benjamin, Edwin G. Boring, Mary A. B. Brazier, Pierre Buser, Carmine D. Clemente, Otto D. Creutzfeldt, Hallowell Davis, Albert J. Derbyshire, Alexander Forbes, John D. French, Werner Fr�hlich, Robert Galambos, Fredric A. Gibbs, James J. Gibson, Herbert H. Jasper, Michel Jouvet, Richard Jung, Vern O. Knudsen, Karl S. Lashley, John C. Liebeskind, Alexander R. Luria, Horace W. Magoun, Giuseppe Moruzzi, Risto K. Näätänen, Karl H. Pribram, Charles H. Sawyer, Arnold B. Scheibel, Roger Sperry, Stanley S. (Smitty) Stevens, Hans-Lukas Teuber, Lee E. Travis, Louis Jolyon (Jolly) West, Charles E. Young.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Materials have been organized into five series:
    1. Correspondence (original order maintained, mostly alphabetical)
    2. Primary Writings
      • a. Publication Reprints (organized chronologically by author)
      • b. Drafts of Publications and Manuscripts (organized chronologically)
      • c. Bibliographic and Research Notes (organized alphabetically by topic)
      • d. Grants (organized chronologically)
      • e. Students and Postdoctoral Fellows (also chronological)
    3. Research and Technical
      • a. Alpha Helix Expedition (Lindsley's roughly chronological organization)
      • b. Grass Instruments (chronological)
      • c. Russian Translations (alphabetically by author and research about Russian science chronologically)
      • d. Original Data (organized by topic)
      • e. Technical and Institutional Information (topic and chronological).
    4. Photos, Slides, Films, and Audio (organized chronologically)
    5. Personal and Autobiographical
      • a. Education (organized chronologically)
      • b. Awards, Honors and Press (organized chronologically)
      • c. Family (organized chronologically)
      • d. Miscellaneous (organized chronologically)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Donald Benjamin Lindsley---Archives.

    Items Removed from the Collection

    Excessive duplications of publication reprints, photocopies, and copies of various materials were removed. Some family photos and slides were also removed to be returned to the family.