Rare Book & Manuscript Library

William J. McGill papers, 1929-1979

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0822
Bib ID 4079709 View CLIO record
Creator(s) McGill, William J. (William James), 1922-1997
Title William J. McGill papers, 1929-1979
Physical Description 23.35 linear feet (56 document boxes and 1 oversize folder)
Language(s) English .
Other Finding Aids

Legacy finding aid

Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

The following boxes are located offsite: 2-56. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room

This collection was restricted during the donor's lifetime.



This collection is arranged in four series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Subject Files; Series III: Psychology; Series IV: University of California at San Diego.



Correspondence, memoranda, notes, speeches, scientific data, photographs and printed material. Half of the collection relates to McGill's research and writing in the fields of experimental and mathematical psychology, particularly in the psychology of perception, and contains drafts of papers, notes, class materials and works by others. Also included are files relating to McGill's chairmanship of the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting, files pertaining to his participation on the New York State Special Advisory Panel on Medical Malpractice, and some papers from his chairmanship of the psychology department, and later chancellorship, of the University of California, San Diego. Some personal correspondence and documents are also included. Among the cataloged correspondence are John W. Gardiner, Edward M. Kennedy, Margaret Mead, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jonas Salk, and Beverly Sills

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Other Finding Aids

Legacy finding aid

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

The following boxes are located offsite: 2-56. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room

This collection was restricted during the donor's lifetime.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William J. McGill papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

For additional materials related to McGill's tenure as University President, please consult Central Files (UA#0001). Additional speeches and remarks can be found in the William J. McGill speeches, 1971-1980 (UA#0309).


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of William J. McGill, 1980.

Transfer from the President's Office, 1984.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--McGill, William J. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1980. Accession number--M-1980.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Entered in AMC 10/08/90.

Revision Description

2020-06-29 PDF replaced with full finding aid (JR)

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Lectures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memorandums Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speeches (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Broadcasting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College administrators Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gardner, John W (John William), 1912-2002 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Medical personnel -- Malpractice Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Moynihan, Daniel P (Daniel Patrick), 1927-2003 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Psychology Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public broadcasting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Salk, Jonas, 1914-1995 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sills, Beverly Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
University of California, San Diego Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

William J. McGill received an AB and MA from Fordham and the Ph.D. from Harvard. After serving as an assistant professor at MIT, McGill joined Columbia's Department of Psychology in 1956, became associate professor in 1958 and full professor two years later, serving as chairman of the psychology department from 1961 to 1963. He left Columbia for five years to become a professor and chancellor at UC San Diego and returned to Columbia as president in 1970. His administration was marked by recovery from a state of fiscal instability, growth in fund raising, construction of several major facilities, curricular innovations and establishment of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities. In 1980, McGill retired to La Jolla, California following his tenure as president.

All external visitors, including alumni, must meet the University's primary COVID-19 vaccination series mandate and are required to adhere to the University's COVID-19 policies . After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.

Series I: Correspondence, 1941-1977

Cataloged Correspondence

Box 1 Folder 1 Barzun, Jacques, 1970

Box 1 Folder 2-5 Gardner, John W., 1977, 4 folders

Box 1 Folder 6 Geisel, Theodor Seuss and Audrey, 1970

Box 1 Folder 7 Haley, Alex, 1977

Box 1 Folder 8 Hope, Bob, 1971

Box 1 Folder 9 Jackson, Barbara Ward (Lady), 1970

Box 1 Folder 10 Javits, Jacob K., 1970

Box 1 Folder 11-12 Johnson, Lady Bird Taylor (Mrs. Lyndon B.), 1972, 2 folders

Box 1 Folder 13 Kennedy, Edward M., 1979

Box 1 Folder 14 Mead, Margaret, 1970

Box 1 Folder 15 Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, 1977

Box 1 Folder 16 Pusey, Nathan, 1970

Box 1 Folder 17 Rockefeller, David, 1970

Box 1 Folder 18 Salk, Jonas, 1969

Box 1 Folder 19 Sills, Beverly, 1978

Box 1 Folder 20 Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs, 1977

Box 1 Correspondence, 1941-1950

Box 1 1953-1956

Box 1 1956-1957

Box 1 Correspondence - Uncertainty Analysis, 1952-1960

Box 1 1958-1959 July

Box 1 1959 July-1960

Box 1 1960


Box 2 1960-1965

Box 3 1965-1968

Box 4 1968-1970

Box 5 1970

Box 6 1970-1977

Series II: Subject Files

Box 7 A

Box 7 Ad Hoc Committees

Box 7 American Psychological Association

Box 7 American Psychological Association Paper, 1967

Box 7 B

Box 7 C

Box 7 Career Development Review Branch, National Institutes of Health Columbia University

Box 7 D

Box 7 Davis, Angela - journal by William J. McGill

Box 7 Duke University

Box 7 E

Box 7 Employment

Box 7 F

Box 7 Fitts, Paul M.

Box 7 Fordham Alumni Dinner

Box 8 G

Box 8 Goldberg, James P.

Box 8 Gordon Conference, 1967

Box 8 Graham, Clarence H.

Box 8 H

Box 8 Harvard University

Box 8 I

Box 8 Industrial Acoustics Company Chamber Specifications

Box 8 Institute for Information Systems

Box 8 International Congress of Psychology, 1960

Box 8 J

Box 8 Job Descriptions

Box 8 Johnson Foundation Awards, 1973-1974

Box 8 Journal of Mathematical Psychology

Box 8 K

Box 8 L

Box 9 M

Box 9 McGill, Marie (Marcy)

McGill, William J.

Box 9 Personal, 1940-1960

Box 9 School and College Records, 1929-1947

Box 9 Hunger Drive (diet)

Box 9 Sabbatical Leave, 1963

Box 9 Photographs and miscellaneous items

Box 9 Press releases

Box 9 TV appearances, 1968-1970

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Box 9 Barnstable Summer Study, 1958

Box 9 Operational Applications Lab

Box 9 N

Box 9 National Association of College & University Attorneys

Box 9 National Science Foundation Grant, 1966-1968

Box 9 O

Box 9 Oxford University Press

Box 10 P

Box 10 Professional Psychology

Box 10 Psychological Bulletin

Box 10 Psychometric Society

Box 10 Psychometrika

Box 10 Psychonomic Press

Box 10 Psychonomic Society

Box 10 Publishers

Box 11 R

Box 11 S

Box 11 Society of Experimental Psychologists


Box 11 UCSD Library Goundbreaking,, 1968 July 1

Box 11 Rotary Club, Torrey Pines, 1968 July 24

Box 11 Rotary Club, San Diego, 1968 August 22

Box 11 San Diego COC Keyman's Club, 1968 October 2

Box 11 Muir College, 1968 October 3

Box 11 Military Order of the World Wars - Admiral Kidd Club, 1968 October 15

Box 11 Holy Name Society, Sacred Heart Church, Coronado, CA, 1969 May 4

Box 11 UCSD Commencement, 1969 June 14

Box 11 A Requiem for Joe College, 1969 July 7

Box 11 The Problem of Freedom in the University, 1969 October 28

Box 11 Joe College RIP, 1969 November 5

Box 11 American Nuclear Society, 1969 November 12

Box 11 The New Youth Culture - History in the Making, 1969 December 13

Box 11 Youth in Turmoil - Implications for the Job World, 1969 December 14

Box 12 ACLU, LeBaron Hotel, 1970 January 30

Box 12 City Managers' Section, League of California Cities, 1970 February 27

Box 12 Forum of the Foothills, 1970 April 5

Box 12 Cancer Seminar, San Diego Naval Hospital, 1970 April 14

Box 12 San Francisco Alumni, Columbia University, 1970 April 18

Box 12 Alumni of Columbia University, 1970 June 2

Box 12 Catholic University Commencement, 1970 June 7

Box 12 American College Public Relations Association National Conference, 1970 June 7

Box 12 President's Commission on Student Unrest, Los Angeles, 1970 August 4

Box 12 American Bar Association, St. Louis, 1970 August 12

Box 13 Miscellaneous texts, notes, correspondence and related material

Box 14 Spiess Committee Report

Box 14 Summer Conference

Box 14 Summer Workshop, 4 folders

Box 14 Sylvania Contract

Box 14 T

Box 14 U

Box 14 University of California - Council and Assembly, 1968-1969

Box 14 W

Box 14 Western Psychological Association, Inc.

Box 14 Z

Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting

Box 15 1977 June-September

Box 16 1977 October-1978 March

Box 17 1978 April-October

Box 18 1978 November-1979 January

Box 19 1979 February-June

New York, State of - Special Advisory Panel on Medical Malpractice

Correspondence, notes and memoranda

Box 20 1975 June-August

Box 21 1975 August-1976 January

Box 22 Meetings

Box 23 Reports

Series III: Psychology

Works by William J. McGill

Box 24 Abstracts

Box 24 American Psychological Association Paper ("Two Sources of Transmitted Information. . ."), 1953

Box 24 American Psychological Association Paper ("Attention. . ."), 1958

Box 24 Analysis of Information . . .

Box 24 Application of Information Theory. . . (NYAS Paper)

Box 24 Back to Personal Equations

Box 24 Deutsch, J.A. - Realization of the Compartment Model – Comments

Box 24 Equivalence of Detection Probabilities. . ., On the

Box 24 General Gamma Distribution

Box 25 Human Factors Research

Box 26 Introduction to Counter Theory in Psychophysics

Box 26 Isomorphism Paper

Box 26 Loudness and Reaction Time

Box 26 Loudness Function

Box 26 Lousy Lectures

Box 26 Luce, R.D., et al - Developments in Mathematical Psychology. . . - Review

Box 26 Multivariate Information Transmission ("MIT")

Box 27 Neural Counting

Box 27 Poisson Counting

Box 27 Polynomial Psychometric Functions in Audition

Box 27 Psychophysics and the Ideal Observer (Symposium, International Congress), 1963

Box 28 Pure Tone Intensity Discrimination

Box 28 Random Fluctuations of Response Rate

Box 28 Reaction Time

Box 28 Recent Developments in the Theory of Reaction

Box 28 Relation Between Information and Variance Analyses

Box 28 Relation Between Uncertainty, Variance, and Correlation Analyses Reviews

Box 28 Scaling of Subjective Estimates of Magnitude

Box 28 Search Distributions in Magnified Time

Box 28 Serial Effects

Box 28 Statistical Description of Verbal Learning

Box 28 Stochastic Latency Mechanisms

Box 29 Study of the Near-Miss Involving Weber's Law. . .

Box 29 Study of the Relationship Between Motor and Sensory Measures of Perseveration (Master's dissertation, Fordham University), 1947

Box 29 Uncertainty Analysis - various talks

Box 29 Variations on Marill's Formula

Box 29 Visual and Auditory Counting Papers

Box 29 Visual Detection

Box 29 Visual Search

Box 29 Miscellaneous works


Box 30 Analysis of Variance

Box 30 Auditory Chapter

Box 30 Click Suppression

Box 30 Counter Model

Box 30 Detection - Visual, Auditory Research

Box 31 Discrete Counting Distributions and Analysis of Discrimination

Box 31 Elastic Stochastic

Box 31 Feller

Box 31 General Gamma Distribution

Box 31 Lab Experiments

Box 31 Limulus

Box 31 Loudness, 4 folders

Box 32 Loudness and Reaction Time Study

Box 32 Loudness Experiment

Box 32 Mathematics, Pure

Box 32 Mathematical Papers and Tables in Uncertainty Analysis

Box 32 Mathematical Psychophysics

Box 32 Mathematics and Statistics

Box 32 Mathematics, Committee on the Undergraduate Program in

Box 32 Matrix Algebra

Box 33 Mosteller and Tukey

Box 33 Number Search Experiments

Box 33 Photometry

Box 33 Poisson Distribution

Box 34 Psychophysics and Detection Theory

Box 34 Quantitative Psychology

Box 34 Random Noise

Box 34 Random Walk Detectors

Box 34 Random Walk Problem

Box 34 Rate Fluctuations

Box 34 Search Distributions

Box 34 Statistical Behaviorism

Box 35 Miscellaneous notes

Class Materials


Box 36 Analysis of Variance

Box 37 Colloquium

Box 37 Introductory Psychology

Box 37 Measurement, 1948

Box 37 Motivation

Box 37 Pro-Seminar, 1948-1949

Box 37 Psychophysics and Sensory Psychology

Box 38 Statistics

(1 folder, 1 binder)

Box 38 UCLA Lecture Series

Box 38 Miscellaneous, 2 folders

Box 39 Miscellaneous

Exams, assignments and class records

Box 39 Exams

Box 39 Grade Books

Box 39 Harvard Exams

Box 39 Harvard - Miscellaneous

Box 39 Intermediate Lab experiments

Box 39 Miscellaneous, 3 folders

Box 40 Data Books

(mainly M.I.T. and Columbia University)

Papers and Reports by Others

Box 41 Papers and Reports by Others

Box 42 Papers and Reports by Others

Box 43 Papers and Reports by Others

Box 44 Papers and Reports by Others

Box 45 Papers and Reports by Others

Box 46 Papers and Reports by Others

Box 47 Slides


Box 48 Printed Material by William J. McGill

Printed Material by Others

Box 49 Printed Material by Others

Box 50 Printed Material by Others

Box 51 Printed Material by Others

Series IV: University of California at San Diego

Box 52 Academic Senate, 3 folders

Box 52 Chancellor

Box 53 Chancellorship Files

Box 53 Committee on Educational Policy, Academic Senate

Box 53 Committee: Long Range

Box 53 Committee Memberships

Box 53 Directives Worth Saving

Box 53 H.E.W. Grant

Box 53 Invitations accepted, 1970

Box 53 Invitations regretted, 1968-1970

Box 54 Lumumba-Zapata College

Box 54 Psychology Department

Box 54 Recruiting

Box 54 Student Unrest

Box 55 Miscellaneous, 2 folders

Box 55 Printed Material and Reports

Box 56 Printed Materials and Items