Clare W. Graves collection
Writings, notes, correspondence, audio and video recordings, and notes by and about Clare W. Graves. In 2018, collection was re-housed and entered at file level the ArchivesSpace record. Collection was divided into four series, I through IV. Series I is Personal and contains information pertaining to personal affairs of Graves, such as benefits information. Series II is Professional and deals with correspondence, records, manuscripts or writings about Graves but that cannot be attributed to Graves himself. It also contains information about his professional work, namely organizations with whom he worked and the records they maintained about him, as well as papers of his students. Series III forms the bulk of the collection and contains writings that I have attributed to Graves, although not all of them are certain or definitive in that regard.Series IV is comprised of Recordings. This contains audiovisual documentation of Graves' talks and lectures, and it requires further processing.
- Creation: 1958 - 2000
Conditions Governing Access
Open for research. Rights release forms for recordings were never completed, they may only be accessed onsite within the library at this time.
Biographical / Historical
This collection contains writings, correspondence, materials, and recordings by and about Clare W. Graves, late professor of Union College and noted theorist and researcher in the area of psychology.
The following entry comes from The Encyclopedia of Union College History by Wayne Somers:
"Graves, Clare Wray (Dec. 21, 1914–Jan. 3, 1986). Class of 1940. Professor of Psychology, 1948–78.
A native of New Richmond, Indiana, Clare Graves entered the University of Michigan in 1933 on an athletic scholarship. Following a football injury, he left for two years, returned, and then transfered to Union College in 1937. Graduating in 1940 as a Science Division major, he studied at Western Reserve University under Calvin Hall, one of the major figures in psychology at the time, earning an MA in 1943 and a PhD in 1945. He remained at Western Reserve as a professor of psychology until 1948. While in Cleveland he also worked as a criminal psychologist in the Cuyahoga City Court, 1942–44, and as a technical associate at the Personel Research Institute, 1944–46. His marriage to the former Maran Huff produced a son and a daughter.
In 1948 he returned to Union, where he became a well-known campus figure for two reasons: he was generally recognized as one of the College’s most exciting classroom performers, and he developed a theory of personality structure which elicited a great deal of interest and debate.
A direct and forceful speaker, Graves brought great conviction and excitement to the classroom. Part of this sprang from the universal interest in his subject matter, human personality, and part from his enthusiasm for the theoretical structure that he began putting together about 1952. His system became global as the years went by, and students found a good deal of merit in it. Its general scope is reflected in the title of some of his papers: 'The level theory of personality,' 'The levels of human existence,' and 'Human nature prepares for a momentous leap' (1974). He was especially proud of his 1966 Harvard business review article, 'Deterioration of work standards,' which attempted to adapt his system to the affairs of the work place.
That article attracted wide attention, which was reflected in articles about Graves in newspapers and popular magazines. Canada’s leading general magazine, McLean’s, featured an article in October 1967 which began:
'Every once in a while, a theory comes along that explains EVERYTHING. Darwin invented one. So did Karl Marx. So did Freud and so, of course, did our own Marshall McLuhan. And now meet Clare Graves, a U.S. college professor who’s devised a theory that explains why China is belligerent, why hippies act so cool, and why you’re not getting along with your boss or your mate.'
As a result, Graves found himself in demand for newspaper and radio interviews and television appearances in the U.S. and Canada, speeches at business conventions and lectures at colleges. He complained of having to fly back to Schenectady to teach his class and then immediately leave to keep another commitment. Appointed to a panel charged with developing a plan for the former National Training School in Washington, D.C., he made news in 1967 by proposing to use the school to create a three hundred-acre 'black power enclave' in the city. The Harvard business review article eventually drew more than thirty thousand orders for reprints, but the most available exposition of Graves’ thinking is his 1970 Journal of humanistic psychology article, 'Levels of existence: an open system theory of values.' In broad terms, he posited seven levels or stages through which the individual may grow in striving for maturity. He also assumed that societies move through these same levels, different societies to different levels. The Graves system found its most complete expression in a book manuscript entitled at one time, Up the existential staircase. Although major publishers were interested, the book never appeared, apparently because Graves consistently refused to accept any of the emendations suggested by editors. When he died in 1986, his life's work had found little acceptance among his faculty colleagues. It is said, however, that his theory continues to find broad application in corporate and governmental affairs. Organizations applying his work are reported to include such diverse groups as IBM and the US Postal Service.
Professor Grave's imprint on the College stemmed not only from the intellectual excitement he created (a 1951 Idol profile said, 'His ideas make people squirm'), but also from his easy camaraderie with students and his remarkable skill in advising them about their vocational goals and personal problems. Long before Union appointed a 'Counselor to Students,' his advice was widely sought and respected. A member of the College golf team as an undergraduate, he coached it for many years after 1949.
In a 1973 letter to the Concordiensis, Graves attacked the methods Union had adopted to evaluate faculty and administrators, which he condemned as 'zero sum games' borrowed from business and industry by people who 'seem unaware that they are being discarded by those institutions.' He denounced the 'foolish criteria' of the Linebacker, with whose attempts to evaluate faculty he would not cooperate, but he saw no hope of immediate improvement: 'Unfortunately, I believe, from my knowledge of the psychological development of man, that we must pass through a rational-economic approach to the management of Union College because we are just maturing out of the benevolently autocratic form. Oh, how I wish it were not so, but it is.… We have to learn that the way to a productive, viable organization is not to be gained by pitting one against another in the arena of zero-sum games.'
Troubled by poor health, Graves gave up classroom teaching in 1978 to work on his book. Although he died in 1986, people still call the College seeking a complete account of his thinking, and the unhappy answer is that much of his systematic endeavors died with him." [Huntley, William C. (2003). Graves, Clare Wray. In The Encyclopedia of Union College History.(Page 352-353). Schenectady, NY: Union College Press.]
The bulk of the material herein is comprised of writings and manuscripts either by Graves or attributed to Graves. This collection has been documented at file level, with the exception of audiovisual materials in Box 6, Series IV. File names have been titled, in most cases, as assigned by Graves.
7.43 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The original donation was made by the wife of Clare W. Graves in 1988source of the original collection is unknown. John Barrett donated additional materials in January 2007.
In 2017, collection 227 and accession 2007.002 were combined to create SCA-0227. Writings, notes, correspondence, audio and video recordings, and notes by and about Clare W. Graves. In 2018, collection was re-housed and entered at file level the ArchivesSpace record. Collection was divided into four series, 1-4. Series 1 is Personal and contains information pertaining to personal affairs of Graves, such as benefits information. Series 2 is Professional and deals with correspondence, records, manuscripts or writings about Graves but that cannot be attributed to Graves himself. It also contains information about his professional work, namely organizations with whom he worked and the records they maintained about him, as well as papers of his students. Series 3 forms the bulk of the collection and contains writings that I have attributed to Graves, although not all of them are certain or definitive in that regard.Seires 4 is Recordings. This contains audiovisual documentation of Graves' talks and lectures, and it requires further processing.
- Guide to the Clare W. Graves collection
- Andrea Belair
- November 6, 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note