About George Kelly

Kelly says this about his early life:  

“I was born on a farm near Perth, Kansas on April 28 1905, the only child of Theodore Vincent Kelly and Elfleda Merriam  Kelly. My father had been  educated  for the Presbyterian ministry at Parsons College and at McCormick  and  Princeton  Seminaries.  My  mother  had  been  born on Barbados in the British West Indies where  her  father  had  taken  his family  after  steam had driven his sailing ship out of the North Atlantic trade.  Later  Captain  Merriam  had become  an  Indian  agent  in  South Dakota  and it was at the border town of Brown's Valley,  Minnesota  that my  parents  had  met.  Not long after their  marriage the career  in  the ministry was abandoned and the young couple moved to the farm where I was born.” (unpublished and undated document in the Fransella PCP Collection).

 He says that in 1907 his father moved to a farm in Colorado in a covered wagon to take up a claim of some free land offered to settlers in the West. His schooling was sketchy in such circumstances. He says “My high school education was about as badly mixed up as my elementary schooling had been”. He went to Friends University in Wichita and then to Park College in Parkville, Missouri where he studied physics and mathematics. Fay Fransella has suggested that these subjects had a profound effect on his theory of personal constructs as well as his creating the method of psychological assessment called the repertory grid. After university he did an MA in educational sociology, a BEd in Scotland in 1930 and a PhD in psychology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on reading and speech problems in 1931.

 He started his professional life at Fort Hays in the US and developed a travelling clinic in rural Kansas to provide a diagnostic and consultative service for children.

 In the Second World War he learned to fly. He carried out much research as an aeronautical engineer including computer design and the design of aircraft instrument panels. He was appointed professor at Ohio State University in 1945 and then moved to take up the endowed Meshulam and Judith Riklis Chair in Behavioral Science in the Psychology Department at Brandeis University in 1965. He was there until his death in 1967.

He published little except for his two volume work The Psychology of Personal Constructs in 1955 (New York: Norton).  When this went out of print no other publisher could be found in the United States.  Fay Fransella managed to arrange with Routledge in London that they would reprint the two volumes, but only on condition  that she got them typed up!  People connected with the Centre managed to do all the typing and the two volumes were republished in 1991.

The house that George Kelly himself physically built for his family in 1939.

George Kelly by Fay Fransella (1995, London: Sage Publications)

George Kelly's students say that he always kept this slide rule in his top pocket - stressing his training as a scientist.

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