Robert Sessions Woodworth

Robert was born in Belchertown MA on 17 Oct 1869.  He was the son of William Walter Woodworth and Lydia Sessions.  He was from the Walter, Isaac, David, Elijah, Nathan line of descendancy.  His father was a Congregationalist Minister while his mother was a college educated teacher.  In his youth, Robert was moved to several localities including Grinnell, Iowa. He was raised with half-siblings from his father's two previous wives.

Robert attended high school in Newton Massachusetts and in 1891 enrolled in Amherst College. His initial focus was on religion, the classics, math, science and history. It was during his senior year he took his first class in psychology.  After teaching for a couple of years, Robert returned to college as an undergraduate at Harvard University. He studied philosophy, psychology and history.  He graduated from Harvard, and by 1899 had earned his PhD from Columbia University.  With the exception of a year working at the University of Liverpool, England, where he must have met his future wife, he spent the rest of his life developing theories and conducting research on psychological issues at Columbia.

Besides writing several books on psychological issues, he became involved with "psychometrics" which changed the foundation of psychological testing and measurement, resulting in the "Woodworth Personal Data Sheet".  In the 1932 publication of "Contemporary Schools of Psychology", he described how differing schools of psychological thought were complementary as opposed to incompatible. Robert also introduced and popularized the expression Stimulus-Organism-Response (SOR or S-O-R) to describe his functionalist approach to psychology and to stress its difference from other behavioral/motivational psychological thought.

Robert served as chairman of the National Research Council's Division of Anthropology and Psychology and as president of the American Psychological Association (APA), and, in 1956, was awarded the first gold medal from the American Psychological Foundation for "distinguished and continuous service to scholarship and research in psychology and for contributions to the growth through the medium of scientific publication".

Robert married Gabrielle Marie probably in 1903.  She was born in England of Norwegian parents.  By 1904 they were living in Westchester Co. NY, where their 4 children, Svensen, Gerta, William Walter and Mary V were born. Though he retired from Columbia in 1939, he continued to lecture until he was 89 years old and died on 4 Jul 1962 at age 91.

The information I have been able to find on Robert's children are as follows:  Son, Svensen, was born on 16 Jan 1904 in Westchester Co NY.  He married Bettina, who was born in the Philippines on 26 Jan 1912, sometime after 1930.  In the 1930 census Svensen is living in Puerto Rico and reports that he is a commercial representative.  During most of their life, Svensen and Bettina travelled to Venezuela, Cuba and other central American countries.  They evidently retired in Naples FL where Svensen died on 28 Nov 1969.  I have not found any other records of Bettina or of any children born to them.

Robert and Gabrielle's oldest daughter, Gerta, was born in 1907 in Westchester Co NY.  In the 1930 census, she was living in a boarding house in New York City and was listed as single and working as a clerk in a department store.

Son William was born on 25 Sep 1908 in Westchester County, NY.  William attended both New Rochelle High School and Western High School in Washington DC.  He graduated from Columbia College in 1929 and reported that he worked as an executive for the telephone company in the 1930 census.  William served as a Captain in the US army.  He died on 15 Apr 1997 in Charlotteville Virginia and is buried in Clinton Connecticut.  I cannot find any record of his being married or having any children.

The youngest child, Mary V was born on 1 Jun 1916 in Westchester Co NY and died in Mar 1983 in Clinton CT.  She was divorced, but I haven't been able to locate either a husband or any children for her.

The information for this story was found mostly on, Wikipedia and Jeanette Behan's Woodworth Family in America, vol. 1 and the unpublished 6th generation by Jeanette Behan.