Guide to the Laurence J. Peter Papers 1959-1987
Cage 842

Summary Information

Repository
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Creator
Peter, Laurence J.
Title
Laurence J. Peter papers
ID
Cage 842
Date [inclusive]
1959-1987
Extent
7.0 Linear feet
General Physical Description note
7.0 linear feet of shelf space 15 containers and 1 oversize folder
Language
English
Abstract
The Laurence J. Peter Papers consist of documents about Peter's career as an author, educator, and satirist. Peter, best known for his work The Peter Principle, was a professor of education at the University of Southern California and author of 11 works. This collection primarily contains book manuscripts, correspondence, recorded lectures, and realia representative of Peter's satire.

Preferred Citation note

[Item description]. Laurence Peter Papers, 1959-1987. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Historical Note

Laurence Peter was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1919. Peter received both his bachelors and master’s in education from Western Washington University in 1957 and 1958 respectively before receiving his Ph. D. in education from Washington State University in 1963. After graduating, Peter worked in Vancouver before being hired as an Associate Professor of Education, Director of the Evelyn Frieden Centre for Prescriptive Teaching, and Coordinator of Programs for Emotionally Disturbed Children at the University of Southern California in 1967. In 1969, W. Morrow published Peter’s best known publication The Peter Principle, which outlines how employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence, which sold over 200,000 copies in its first year of publication, was translated into 38 languages, and was on the New York Times best sellers list. The work was created in conjunction with free-lance writer Raymond Hull. It is still widely cited today in the corporate world. His publications about education include a four volume work titled Competencies for Teaching: System of Accountability for Teacher Education. He continued to publish a number of other books until his death on January 12, 1990 in his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California.

Peter married twice, first to Nancy Bailey in 1943 and then to Irene Howe in 1967. Nancy and Laurence had four children, John, Edward, Margaret, and Alice.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection consists of materials documenting Peter’s career as an author, educator, and satirist. Much of the collection contains typescripts, proofs, and galleys of Peter’s publications. The collection also contains correspondence, files for events attended by Peter, including presentations recorded on reel-to-reel audio tape, photographs of Peter, and selected realia, including a Golden Dinosaur award. Some incoming correspondence was written by celebrities, including George Carlin and Steve Allen.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged according to the following 6 series: Publications, Events, Correspondence, Photographs, Miscellaneous, and Awards and Realia.

Series 1: Publications, 1959-1987. This series contains typescript drafts, proofs, and galleys of Peter's book length works, as well as reviews and other documents about his publications. This series is divided into 10 subseries, 1 for each title represented in the collection and general subseries for files about Peter's work or shorter works, such as articles.

Subseries 1: The Laughter Prescription, circa 1982. This subseries consists of one bound typescript of The Laughter Prescription.

Subseries 2: The Peter Plan, undated. This subseries consists of one bound typescript of the Peter Plan and a set of slides featuring illustrations from the book.

Subseries 3: The Peter Prescription, 1972-1973. This subseries consists of a bound and unbound typescripts of the book. In addition, this subseries contains an audio recording of the book on audio cassette.

Subseries 4: The Peter Principle, 1968-1986. This subseries consists of a bound and unbound typed draft of the book, a set of galley proofs, a follow up book length comic titled The Peter Principle: The Wide World of Incompetence by Matt Wuerker, and a film version of the book on 16 mm film.

Subseries 5: The Peter Pyramid, undated. This subseries consists of an unbound typescript of the book.

Subseries 6: Peter’s Almanac, undated. This subseries consists of one bound typescript of Peter’s Almanac.

Subseries 7: Peter’s People, undated. This subseries consists of one bound typescript of Peter’s People.

Subseries 8: Peter’s Quotations, undated. This subseries consists of an unbound typescript of Peter’s Quotations along with multiple copies of the index and table of subjects.

Subseries 9: Prescriptive Teaching, undated. This subseries consists of one bound typescript of Prescriptive teaching and notes on how to use the book.

Subseries 10: Process of Teaching, circa 1985. This subseries consists of on unbound typescript of the book including the instructor’s manual.

Subseries 11: Why Things Go Wrong, 1979-1984. This subseries consists of one unbound typescript of Why Things Go Wrong and a proposal for a heavily illustrated version of the book featuring several cartoons.

Subseries 12: Reviews and articles, 1959-1987. This series consists of reviews and publicity for works by Peter, articles by Peter, book ideas, and a Russian translation of an excerpt from the Peter Principle.

Series 2: Events and lectures, 1968-1982. This series consists of flyers, programs, and audio recordings of events in which Peter participated. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

Series 3: Correspondence, 1965-1986. This series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence. It is arranged chronologically with a separate file titled celebrity correspondence. The file of celebrity correspondence includes correspondence from George Carlin and Steve Allen.

Series 4: Photographs, 1969-1985. This series consists of photographs taken largely for the purpose of publicity.

Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1968-1986. This series consists of farcical documents such as documents about Peter University and risqué personality assessments. The series also contains flyers and posters. This series is arranged in alphabetical order.

Series 6: Awards and realia, 1987. This series consists of awards both earned by and awarded by Peter, in addition to items that reflect Peter’s humor, including a name plate and branding iron.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 2016

http://www.libraries.wsu.edu/masc
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610
509-335-6691
mascref@wsu.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open and available for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Laurence Peter Papers were donated to Washington State University by Laurence Peter from 1977-1988 (MS 1977-50, MS 1983-25, MS 1986-23, MS 1986-30, MS 1987-25, MS 1988-31).

Processing Information note

This collection was processed by Megan Bridge and Steven Bingo in 2016.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials note

A copy of the Laughter Prescription and issues of Human Behavior Magazine were separated from this collection and cataloged with the WSU Libraries' rare books. The issues of Human Behavior Magazine contain a column titled "Peter's People."

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Peter, Laurence J.--Archives.

Subject(s)

  • Bureaucracy.
  • Businesses and Corporations
  • Literature
  • Management -- Humor.
  • Organizational behavior.
  • Organizational mobility.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1 Publications 1959-1987 

 Subseries 1 The Laughter Prescription circa 1982 

Box Folder

Bound typescript copy circa 1982 

10

 Subseries 2 The Peter Plan undated 

Box Folder

Bound typescript draft undated 

10

Illustrations from the Peter Plan "Morrow" undated 

13

 Subseries 3 The Peter Prescription 1972-1973 

Box Folder

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Beginning pages, includes Introduction 1972 

1 1

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 1 Chapter 1, 1-13 1972 

1 2

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 1 Chapter 2, 14-33 1972 

1 3

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 1 Chapter 3, 34-57 1972 

1 4

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 1 Chapter 4, 58-73 1972 

1 5

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 2 Chapter 5, 74-93 1972 

1 6

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 2 Chapter 6, 94-124 1972 

1 7

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 2 Chapter 7, 125-138 1972 

1 8

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 2 Chapter 8, 139-153 1972 

1 9

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 3 Chapter 9, 154-175 1972 

1 10

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 3 Chapter 10, 176-193 1972 

1 11

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 3 Chapter 11, 194-217 1972 

1 12

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Part 3 Chapter 12, 218-255 1972 

1 13

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Au Revoir, 259-259 1972 

1 14

Original Manuscript The Peter Prescription Notes and Captions of Illustrations 1972 

1 15

Bound typescript draft 1972 

10

The Sound Edition of the Peter Prescription (audio cassette) 1973 

12

 Subseries 4 The Peter Principle 1968-1986 

Box Folder

Information on film The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong 1975 

1 16

Original Manuscript for The Peter Principle Beginning pages and Introduction 1968 

1 17

Original Manuscript Chapters 1-5 The Peter Principle 1968 

1 18

Original Manuscript Chapters 6-10 The Peter Principle 1968 

1 19

Original Manuscript Chapters 11-15 The Peter Principle 1968 

1 20

Original Manuscript Glossary and Notes on the Illustrations The Peter Principle 1968 

1 21

Galley proofs Beginning Pages undated 

Map Drawer

Galley proofs The Peter Principle undated 

Map Drawer

Galley proofs The Peter Principle undated 

Map Drawer

Galley proofs Beginning Pages undated 

Map Drawer

The Peter Principle undated 

10

Manuscript for The Peter Principle: The Wide World of Incompetence undated 

1 22

Peter Principle Cartoons 1984-1986 

1 23

Peter Principle Why Things Go Wrong 16 mm film 1975 

15

A Cartoon the Peter Principle Why Things Always Go Wrong 1979 

4 74

 Subseries 5 The Peter Pyramid undated 

Box Folder

Typed Manuscript The Peter Pyramid Chapter 1, 1-25 undated 

1 24

Typed Manuscript The Peter Pyramid Chapter 2, 26-52 undated 

1 25

Typed Manuscript The Peter Pyramid Chapter 3, 53-102 undated 

2 26

Typed Manuscript The Peter Pyramid Chapter 4, 103-142 undated 

2 27

Typed Manuscript The Peter Pyramid Chapter 5, 143-184 undated 

2 28

 Subseries 6 Peter's Almanac undated 

Box Folder

Bound typescript draft undated 

11

 Subseries 7 Peter's People undated 

Box Folder

Bound typescript draft undated 

11

 Subseries 8 Peter's Quotations undated 

Box Folder

Table of Subjects for Peter's Quotations undated 

2 29

Beginning Pages for Peter's Quotations undated 

2 30

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 1-100 undated 

2 31

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 101-200 undated 

2 32

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 201-300 undated 

2 33

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 301-400 undated 

2 34

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 401-500 undated 

2 35

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 501-600 undated 

3 36

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 601-700 undated 

3 37

Body of the book Peter's Quotations 701-761 undated 

3 38

Index and Names and Authors for the book Peter's Quotations undated 

3 39

Table of Subjects (2 copies) undated 

3 40

Index undated 

3 41

 Subseries 9 Prescriptive Teaching undated 

Box Folder

Unbound typescript draft undated 

11

Prescriptive Teaching Systems Film undated 

3 42

 Subseries 10 Process of Teaching circa 1985 

Box Folder

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Opening pages and Introduction undated 

3 43

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter One "Tutoring" undated 

3 44

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Two "Conceptual Model" undated 

3 45

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Three "Assessment" undated 

3 46

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Four "Program Objectives" undated 

3 47

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Five "Lesson Objectives" undated 

3 48

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Six "Elicitors" undated 

3 49

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Seven "Reinforces" undated 

3 50

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Eight "Transfer and Generalization" undated 

3 51

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Nine "Individual Differences" undated 

4 52

Original Manuscript Processes of Teaching Chapter Ten "Evaluation" undated 

4 53

Processes of Teaching "Classroom Instruction" undated 

4 54

Processes of Teaching Appendix A "Group Assessment" undated 

4 55

Processes of Teaching Appendix B "Unit and Course Objectives" undated 

4 56

Processes of Teaching Appendix C "Lesson Plans" undated 

4 57

Processes of Teaching Appendix D "Teacher Performance and Instructional Media" undated 

4 58

Processes of Teaching Appendix E "Contingency Management" undated 

4 59

Processes of Teaching Appendix F "Individual Instruction" undated 

4 60

Processes of Teaching Appendix G "Group Evaluation" undated 

4 61

Processes of Teaching: Instructors Manual circa 1985 

4 62

 Subseries 11 Why Things Go Wrong 1979-1984 

Box Folder

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Opening Pages 1984 

4 63

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter One "A Man of Principle" 1984 

4 64

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Two "Law and Disorder" 1984 

4 65

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Three "A Clot for Every Slot" 1984 

4 66

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Four "Gloom at the Top" 1984 

4 67

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Five "Business as Usual" 1984 

4 68

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Six "To Whom It May Concern" 1984 

4 69

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Seven "Military Intelligence" 1984 

4 70

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Eight "Short Cuts" 1984 

4 71

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Nine "As the World Churns" 1984 

4 72

Edited manuscript Why Things Go Wrong Chapter Ten "The Implausible Dream" 1984 

4 73

 Subseries 12 Reviews and articles 1959-1987 

Box Folder

Articles, Book Reviews, Recent Activities 1962-1971 

4 75

Best Seller Lists 1966-1983 

4 76

Copies of Articles which L. J. Peter paraphrased 1967-1982 

5 77

Einstein Revisited September 30, 1983 

5 78

Focus on Exceptional Children volume 3 May 03, 1971 

5 79

Gloom at the Top 1971-1982 

5 80

Gloom at the Top 1959-1980 

5 81

Humor and Peace undated 

5 82

Inostrannaya Literatura (Russian translation of Peter Principle excerpt pp. 195-209) 1987 

5 83

International Youth and Peace Years 1984-1985 

5 84

Laughter Prescription review October 01, 1982 

4 86

Peace Must Be Spoken in Many Languages May 23, 1984 

5 87

Peter- Almanac 1979-1983 

5 88

Peter- Clippings 1969-1985 

5 89

Peter Plan- Activities and Clippings 1973-1982 

5 90

Peter Prescription Clippings and Quotes 1972-1985 

5 91

Peter Principle- Clippings 1969-1987 

5 92

Peter Principle Revisited, or, Why Things Go Wrong 1984-1986 

6 93

Peter Quote Book 1977-1985 

6 94

Peter's People- Activities 1979-1982 

6 95

Quote Book- Activities 1977-1979 

6 96

Quote Book- Reviews 1977-1979 

6 97

Quotes 1972-1982 

6 98

Quotes about Dr. Peter and Quotes about Peter's books undated 

6 99

The Incompleat Writing Machine or How the Theory of Hierarchalogy Is Confirmed in a Study of the Development of the Typewriter undated 

6 100

Wait Watchers: Fun Quotes for Waiting Room Captives undated 

6 101

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 Series 2 Lectures and events 1968-1982 

Box Folder

Loose flyers undated 

6 102

Missouri State Teachers Association speech (reel-to-reel audio tape) November 02,1978 

12

National Meeting of Systems Engineers speech, San Francisco (reel-to-reel audio tape) March 29,1968 

12

Program and Schedule: Curriculum 4th International University for Presidents "Odyssey of Knowledge" Queen Elizabeth 2 May 14-21, 1973 

6 103

Program for Heidelberg College 129th Commencement May 16, 1982 

6 104

Santa Barbara Conference Lecture, handwritten page 1978 

6 105

Today Show (reel-to-reel audio tape) August 25, 1972 

12

United Nations Day World Holiday undated 

6 106

Will Rogers Memorial undated 

6 107

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 Series 3 Correspondence 1965-1986 

Box Folder

Correspondence 1965-1968 

6 108

Letters- Comments about articles 1966-1969 

6 109

Letters- Comments about articles 1967 

6 110

Papers, Clippings, Articles, Letters 1967 

6 111

Peter Principle- Correspondence 1969 

7 112

Peter Principle- Correspondence 1969-1975 

7 113

Education- Correspondence 1969-1982 

7 114

Letters to L. J. Peter from Richard Armour, Articles by and about Richard Armour 1969-1985 

7 115

Correspondence- General 1969-1986 

7 116

Peter Principle- Correspondence 1970 

7 117

Peter Prescription- Correspondence 1971-1972 

7 118

Peter Principle- Correspondence 1971-1975 

7 119

Peter Prescription- Correspondence 1972-1974 

7 120

Loose correspondence 1972-1976 

7 121

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 Series 4 Photographs 1969-1985 

Box Folder

Layout for article in Home Magazine of the L.A. Times 1976 

OS

Photographs of L. J. Peter 1969-1985 

9 144

Photographs of L. J. Peter undated 

9 145

Photographs of L. J. Peter by Vernon Merrett of Life Magazine 1969 

9 146

Signed Photo of Laurence Peter undated 

14

Large Photo of Laurence Peter 1974 

14

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 Series 5 Miscellaneous 1968-1986 

Box Folder

Poster for "Guidelines for bureaucrats" undated 

Map Drawer

How Neurotic Are You Article from MAD magazine undated 

8 131

Miscellaneous 1968-1986 

8 132

An Official History of Peter University undated 

8 133

Flyer- Peace must be spoken in many languages undated 

8 134

L. J. Peter Info- Processing Notes and Bibliography undated 

5 85

Peter University Miscellaneous undated 

8 135

Process-Centered Therapy: Personality Understanding Test undated 

9 136

Process Centered Therapy: Picture Arrangement Completion Test undated 

8 137

Process Centered Therapy: Process Centered Intelligence Test undated 

8 138

Process Centered Therapy: Process Centered Intelligence Test undated 

8 139

Process Centered Therapy: Thematic Attitude Test undated 

8 140

Process Centered Therapy: Thematic Interest Test undated 

8 141

Psychiatry Do it yourself undated 

8 142

Three Jeers For Bureaucracy undated 

8 143

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 Series 6 Awards and realia 1987 

Box Folder

No Bull prize for 1987 goes to witness of postwar Berlin article November 26, 1987 

9 147

No Bull Peace Prize undated 

9 148

Awards and Certificates undated 

9 149

Desk Placard "Resident Eccentric" undated 

14

The Peter Principle Golden Dinosaur Award for Outstanding Incompetence undated 

14

Branding iron Letter undated 

14

Branding iron undated 

14

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