Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Dr. C. Kermit Phelps Edition

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Information about KU’s past can be found in Spencer collections beyond University Archives. This week’s photo, for example, comes from our Kansas Collection.

This week’s post highlights the career of former KU student and faculty member C. Kermit Phelps (1908-2002). He earned his bachelor’s degree (1934), master’s degree (1949, Psychology), and doctorate (1952, Psychology) at the University of Kansas. In earning this last degree, Dr. Phelps became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the university. Phelps later returned to KU as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry; he is considered the school’s first Black faculty member. Dr. Phelps taught in KU’s Department of Psychology from 1955 to 1970.

Photograph of Dr. C. Kermit Phelps administering the Phelps-Scheerer organic battery, 1967
Dr. C. Kermit Phelps administering the Phelps-Scheerer organic battery, a test he originated to determine the extent of a patient’s brain damage, 1967. Dr. C. Kermit Phelps Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P687, Box 1. Click image to enlarge.

You can learn more about Dr. Phelps’s life, work, and achievements at KU and beyond by exploring his collection of papers within Spencer’s Kansas Collection; reading his master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation; and listening to an oral history interview with Dr. Phelps conducted by KU’s Endacott Society.

Caitlin Klepper
Head of Public Services

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