Guide to the J. Murray Lee Papers 1933-1941
Cage 83

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Lee, J. Murray
J. Murray Lee Papers
Cage 83
Date [inclusive]
1400.0 items.
General Physical Description note
2 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, research materials, course outlines and manuscripts of published works primarily relating to research in curriculum evaluation and tests and measurement with particular emphasis on spelling and arithmetic abilities in primary school children. Includes administrative correspondence with parents and others which illustrate the catastrophic effect of the Depression on school children.

Return to Table of Contents »

Biographical/Historical note

Johnathan Murray Lee was born in Spokane, Washington in 1904. He attended grade and high school in Los Angeles, California and received his A.B. degree from Occidental College in 1926. Upon graduation Lee began teaching in the Burbank, California school system. His employment in Burbank (1926-1936) was twice interrupted, in 1927-28 and 1931-32, in order that he could attend Teacher's College of Columbia University where he received the master's degree in 1928 and the Ph.D. in 1934.

During the years spent in the Burbank system Lee progressed up the ranks from teacher to principal and became as well the system's director of research. The summers were taken up with graduate research and teaching assignments in several colleges including Teacher's College. Lee specialized in tests and measurement and curriculum evaluation with an emphasis on the teaching of spelling in the early grades. In 1937 he went to the University of Wisconsin as an assistant professor of education. His stay at Wisconsin lasted about three years. During December 1940 Lee was offered the deanship of the School of Education at Washington State University. He started his new position in February 1941 replacing A.A. Cleveland who had served as dean since 1917. Lee remained as dean from 1941 to 1956 when he left WSU to take a professorship at Southern Illinois University.

Lee's research interests had always been an important part of his role as secondary and college teacher. He published, some in collaboration with his wife Dorris Potter Lee, reading readiness tests, primer and first grade reading tests, prognostic tests in algebra and geometry, and general testing programs in the secondary schools. In addition he published a book on measurement in secondary schools as well as a series of spellers. He also published numerous articles on measurement and curriculum evaluation. Thus Lee came to his new post in 1941 with wide teaching and administrative experience at primary, secondary, and collegiate levels plus extensive scholarly research dating back to his earliest professional years.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

The papers of J. Murray Lee consist of approximately 1400 items of correspondence and research materials pertaining to his activities as administrator, teacher, researcher, and author prior to his coming to WSU as Dean in 1941. Of special interest are letters sent to Lee as school principal during the depression years relating to children who faced problems of hunger, lack of proper shoes and clothing, and parental inattention which often resulted in their either leaving school or facing disciplinary action from the principal. Lee kept many of these letters and reports as evidence of the catastrophic effects of the Depression on school children. Other items show Lee's interest in the use of radio for state-wide educational purposes.

Return to Table of Contents »

Arrangement note

The arrangement of the papers generally follows the filing system used by Dr. Lee. During Processing general materials published by local school districts plus books and pamphlets relating to curriculums were removed as not pertinent to the Lee papers. The remaining papers consist of Dr. Lee's professional correspondence, research notes and commentaries as well as examples of course materials and outlines, publications and speeches given at educational conferences and community meetings, and typescripts of books and articles.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1975
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Washington State University Library acquired the papers of J. Murray Lee, professor and dean of the School of Education at Washington State University, along with a deposit of the College of Education records during the Summer of 1974.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings


  • Educators--Washington (State)--Correspondence

Personal Name(s)

  • Lee, Johnathan Murray, 1904- --Archives


  • Anthropology
  • Children -- United States--Social conditions
  • Depressions -- 1929--United States--Psychological aspects
  • Depressions -- 1929--United States--Social conditions
  • Educational tests and measurements--Research
  • Washington (State)

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Professional Correspondence 1933-1941   455 items.

Box Folder


1 1


1 2


1 3


1 4


1 5

Return to Table of Contents »

Box Folder

Educational Conference Programs   20 items.

1 6

Course Materials: Outlines, undergraduate and graduate tests, and bibliographies used in courses taught by Lee.   350 items.

2 7-9

Publications & Speeches: Articles and speeches, some presented at educational conferences.   60 items.

3 10-12

Research Materials: Notes, outlines, bibliographical references and written commentaries relating to Lee's test and measurement work, spelling lists, remedial reading and school curriculum research activities   500 items.

3 13-14

Manuscripts: Typescripts of books and scholarly articles.   25 items.

4 15-17