Documentation, Report on Study of Conscientious Objectors

Documentation, Report on Study of Conscientious Objectors

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Mark Arthur May was a professor of educational psychology and Director of the Institute of Human Relations at Yale from 1935–1960. This collection includes his work for the U.S. Army from 1917–1919, when he served under Robert Yerkes.
According to a biography written by his nephew, during his work for the army, May “was called upon to devise a set of screening procedures to use in determining the validity of requests for deferment by the conscientious objectors. With his seminary training and several weeks of research on some 250 denominations, Mark was able to produce a relatively reliable and objective set of criteria upon which he screened the objectors.” The collection contains examples of tests taken by contentious objectors along with the psychologists’ analysis and reports of the results. It provides insight into both the early history of mental testing in the United States and religious and political beliefs in the early 20th century.
Examinations of contentious objectors in 1918 and the subsequent reports on the results of the examinations are included in this file. May compiled data on their age, mental age, previous occupations, religious beliefs, education, specific objections to national service, degree of objection to national service, the degree of sincerity, and “miscellaneous considerations.” Between September and December of that year, multiple reports on contentious objectors were collected from different Camps (Sherman, David, Custer, etc.)
John Carson, The Measures of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750 – 1940 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).
Ellen Herman, Romance of American Psychology: Political Culture in the Age of Experts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).
Mark May, “The Psychological Examination of Conscientious Objectors,” American Journal of Psychology 31 (January 1920): 152-165.
William W. May, “A PSYCHOLOGIST OF MANY HATS: A TRIBUTE TO MARK A. MAY,” Appalachian State University, May 4, 1977, Accession File.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Sheets, Set Of
date made
ca 1918
date used
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 2 cm x 22 cm x 28.7 cm; 25/32 in x 8 21/32 in x 11 5/16 in
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of William W. May
Psychological Tests
World War I
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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