Henry Herbert Goddard – An American Psychologist

Born: 14 August 1866, United States

Died: 18 June 1957, Santa Barbara, California, United States

Henry Herbert Goddard - Wikipedia

Henry Herbert Goddard was born in 1866 in East Vassalboro, Maine, into a devoted Quaker family. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1887 from Haverford College and went on to teach Latin, history, and botany at the University of Southern California before joining the Damascus Academy Quaker school in Ohio. He earned his doctorate in psychology from Clark University in 1899, and from 1906 to 1918, he was the Director of the Vineland Training School for Feeble-Minded Girls and Boys.

He developed an intellectual testing program on Ellis Island in 1913, and discovered that 80% of immigrants were “feeble-minded.” He went on to work with Charles Davenport, the founder of the eugenics movement, by conducting experiments on his patients at the training school and compiling family pedigrees to look into the genetics of “feeble-mindedness” and other undesirable characteristics. He died in 1947, at the age of 90, in Santa Barbara, California.

He was a major advocate of intelligence testing in societal settings such as hospitals, schools, the legal system, and the military. In 1911, he helped in the writing of the first United States law requiring that blind, deaf, and intellectually disabled children receive special education in public schools, and in 1914, he became the first American psychologist to testify in court that defendants’ criminal responsibility should be limited by their subnormal intelligence.

Henry H. Goddard, director of research at Vineland’s New Jersey Home for the Education and Care of Feeble-Minded Children, adapted Alfred Binet’s IQ tests for use with American pupils. Goddard made several significant contributions to special education, including establishing the first state statute requiring special education services. He is most known for popularising Alfred Binet’s approach to psychological testing in the United States and for his book, The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness, which examined the hereditary foundations of feeble-mindedness (1912).

Background and Education

Goddard was born into a devout Quaker family and had his early education at Haverford College, a Quaker college in Pennsylvania. He worked in Quaker schools as a teacher and administrator at various times during his education. He lectured at the newly created University of Southern California at one point, where he also served as the school’s first football coach. But Goddard’s interest in psychology attracted him to Clark University, where he studied under G. Stanley Hall developed a respect for scientific approaches to human behavior.

Goddard worked for several years at a teacher’s college in Pennsylvania after receiving his doctorate, when he felt irritated by the lack of emphasis on scientific psychology and pedagogy. As a result, he accepted a post as director of research at the New Jersey Home for the Education and Care of Feeble-Minded Children in Vineland, a small town in the state’s southern rural district, in 1906. Goddard is best recognized for his work at the Vineland School, but he also held two significant roles in Ohio before retirement.

Intelligence Testing

Goddard was concerned early in the twentieth century with differentiating the retarded–who required remedial treatment due to bad health or environment–from the feeble-minded–who required a particular curriculum due to decreased mental capacity. Goddard believed that the Binet-Simon intelligence tests, which had recently been established in France, could help in determining the extent of the problem, and he began to advocate for their use in the US.

Around this time, American educators began to be concerned about the percentage of students who were older than their grades showed. When the issue of grade vs. age became a popular issue in American education, Goddard realized that the Binet scales he was already working with could be used to investigate it. Goddard’s support for the Binet tests was enthusiastic and exhaustive. He promoted the use of the exams in a variety of settings, owing to his extensive network in fields such as medical, education, psychology, and law. At various institutions, he taught or organized courses for teachers on how to administer the Binet tests. The examinations were then used by these teachers in a variety of educational settings across the United States.

In addition, he advocated the value of test results as legal evidence. Goddard was also highly involved in the U.S. army psychological testing program during World War I, further legitimizing this particular approach to mental testing.

Goddard’s support for the Binet tests resulted in two significant consequences. In comparison to the qualitatively different procedures used by Francis Galton and others, who focused on physical and physiological tests to determine IQ, the mental testing approach gained popularity. In addition, numerous versions of the Binet test primarily updated by Goddard and, in particular, Lewis Terman, are still in use, and the bulk of modern intelligence tests follow a similar methodology. Without Goddard’s influence, testing and related educational practices in the early twenty-first century could appear very different.

The Kallikak Family Study

Goddard’s study on feeble-mindedness was another significant contribution. The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness was the most well-known of Goddard’s field-based research articles. Even though Goddard and his colleagues investigated hundreds of families, the Kallikaks are the most well-known. Deborah, a Vineland student, was the mother of the family. Kallikak is a pseudonym made up of the Greek words kallos (beautiful) and kakos (knowledge) (bad).

Deborah’s Kallikak family was divided into 2 branches, one “good” and the other “bad,” both of which originated from Martin Kallikak, Deborah’s great-great-great-grandfather. Kallikak had a relationship with an “unnamed, feeble-minded tavern girl” when he was a young soldier. This relationship resulted in the birth of an illegitimate son, Martin Kallikak Jr., who became the family’s bad branch. Martin Kallikak Sr. afterward married a Quaker woman from a respectable family. The good branch descended from this marriage.

The connection with the feeble-minded girl resulted in centuries of feeble-mindedness, illegitimacy, prostitution, alcoholism, and lechery, according to Goddard’s genealogical research. Martin Kallikak Srmarriage .’s to a Quaker woman produced generations of normal, accomplished children. The significant disparity between the two branches of the family, according to Goddard, was due to the differing hereditary impacts of the two ladies associated with the elder Kallikak.

Goddard’s work had a significant impact. The scope of the research astonished academics, and The Kallikak Family quickly became well-known. In the public press, there was a good response, but in the scientific community, there was a more muted response. James McKeen Cattell, for example, praised the contribution and results while criticizing the research design. The Kallikak study was a significant of eugenicist groups, particularly the Nazi party’s, and contributed to the climate in which several states approved mandatory sterilization legislation.


Throughout Goddard’s career, he was followed by controversy. The Kallikak study and Goddard’s eugenicism in the 1910s, on the other hand, caused the most serious issues. Goddard recommended forcible sterilization and the segregation of the feeble-minded in isolated colonies near the end of The Kallikak Family. At a time when immigrants were seeking citizenship in massive numbers, his work had a strong anti-immigrant tone. Goddard eventually admitted that many of his social policy proposals were incorrect, but his controversial role early in the twentieth century contributed to his work’s poor reputation by the 1940s.

Goddard’s study was once again criticized by the end of the twentieth century. Some of the Kallikak images, particularly those of the family’s bad branch, may have been edited, according to a photographic expert. Goddard allegedly made the changes to give the film a more unsettling aesthetic, according to critics. Several researchers, on the other hand, have determined that fraud is unlikely. The fundamental purpose of Goddard’s work, as Leila Zederland pointed out, was to demonstrate that feeble-minded persons appeared normal and were often quite attractive; he was calling for mental testing rather than a visual assessment to determine feeble-mindedness.

Later career

He became director of the Ohio Bureau of Juvenile Research in 1918, and a professor in the Ohio State University Department of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology in 1922, a position he held until his retirement in 1938. Emma, his wife, died in October 1936; they had no children. In 1943, he got an honorary law degree from Ohio State University, and in 1946, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a supporter of Albert Einstein’s Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists in 1946.

By the 1920s, Goddard had come to believe that his early research had been poorly written, and he considered The Kallikak Family to be obsolete. It was also pointed out that Goddard was more concerned with popularising eugenics than with performing scientific studies. He spent the latter portion of his career working to enhance education, change childhood environmental factors, and raise awareness of improved child-rearing techniques. Others, however, continued to use Goddard’s early work to promote other views with which he disagreed.

Later polemicists claimed that his studies were dangerous to society despite portraying immigrant groups as immoral and less intelligent by falsely claiming the sample was “representative of their respective groups” while advocating the removal of such people from society[clarification needed]. He was constantly perplexed by this. One of the few scientists who continued to utilize The Kallikak Family as a reference was Henry Garrett of Columbia University.

In 1947, Goddard moved to Santa Barbara, California. At the age of 90, he died in his home in Vineland, New Jersey, and his cremated remains were interred with those of his wife at the Siloam Cemetery.


In addition to popularizing mental testing, compulsory special education, and gifted education, Henry Goddard made significant contributions to American education. His research into the hereditary nature of feeble-mindedness and related eugenicist activities, however, has helped to paint the rather negative picture many people continue to hold of Goddard and his work.

Paul Kirk-A Forensic Pioneer | Forensicfield
Paul Leland Kirk is a pioneer in the field of criminology. Paul Kirk's (1902-1970) death …
Sir Sydney Smith and Three Bones
Three little bones were discovered in an abandoned well in an Egyptian village around the …
Born: 17 December 1493 Died: 24 September 1541 Paracelsus was a Swiss alchemist, physician, astrologer, …
Vaughn Motley Bryant
Born: October 1940 Died: January 30th, 2021 Dr. Bryant was born to Vaughn Motley Bryant …
Robert P. Spalding
Robert P. Spalding earned a name for himself in forensic science by trying his hand …
Clea Koff
Born: 1972 (age 50 years), London, United Kingdom Parents: David Koff Clea Koff (born 1972) …
Jan Evangelista Purkyně
Born: 18 December 1787 Libochovice, Bohemia, Austrian Monarchy Died: 28 July 1869 (aged 81) Prague, …
J. Edgar Hoover
Born: John Edgar Hoover January 1, 1895 Washington, D.C., U.S. Died: May 2, 1972 (aged …
Hugo Münsterberg
Born: 1 June 1863, Gdańsk, Poland Died: 16 December 1916, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States Hugo …
Arthur Mourant
Born: 11 April 1904, Paris, France Died: 29 August 1994, Jersey Life Arthur Mourant was …
Paul Zacchia – A Medico legal Jurist
Born: 1584, Rome, Italy Died: 1659, Rome, Italy Paul Zaccheus (1584-1659), also known as Paolo …
Mathieu Orfila
Mathieu Orfila Born: 24 April 1787 Mahón, Menorca, Kingdom of Spain Died: 12 March 1853 …
Walter McCrone
Born: 9 June 1916, Wilmington, Delaware, United States Died: 10 July 2002, Chicago, Illinois, United …
Arthur Conan Doyle
Born: 22 May 1859, Edinburgh, United Kingdom Died: 7 July 1930, Crowborough, United Kingdom Sir …
Henry C. Lee
Henry Chang-Yu Lee is a forensic scientist who is Chinese-American. He is the creator of …
Henry Goddard
In the year 1800, Henry Goddard was born in Southwark. Following in his father's footsteps …
Cesare Lombroso
Born: 6 November 1835, Verona, Italy Died: 19 October 1909, Turin, Italy Cesare Lombroso, the …
William M. Bass
Born: August 30, 1928 (age 93) Staunton, Virginia, U.S. Nationality: American William Marvin Bass III …
Thomas Dwight
Born: October 13, 1843 Boston, Massachusetts Died: September 8, 1911 (aged 67) Nahant, Massachusetts Occupation: …
Albert Osborn
Born: Albert Sherman Osborn 1858 Died: 1946 (aged 87–88) Known pioneer and author in the …
error: Content is protected !!