Anne Anastasi (1908-2001)
One hundred years ago this year (2008), Anne Anastasi was born in New York City. Her father died when she was one year old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother. Precocious in intellect, Anne was primarily home-schooled by her grandmother, while her mother provided the role-model of being a resourceful woman in the work force. Anne's intellectual ability facilitated her early entry into Barnard College at age 15 and into graduate school at Columbia University, where she earned her doctorate in only two years, at age 21.
The year that Anne earned her doctorate, the stock market crashed. Tough economic times marked the beginning of her academic career. She began as an instructor at Barnard College, whose chairman, Harry Hollingworth, was a major role-model for her. In an oral history held in the APA Archives, Anne recounted how she was able to hire research assistants through such Depression-era government work programs as the National Youth Administration and the Works Progress Administration. So, despite the economic hard times and the general lack of financial resources, Anne was able to begin her research program. In 1939, Anne took a position as chair of the then-new Psychology Department at Queens College, where she remained until 1947. She later recalled this as particularly challenging, since she received very little support from the Queens College administration. In 1947, Anne moved to Fordham University, where she remained until she retired in 1979. For six years she chaired the Fordham Psychology Department and recalled the experience with great pleasure due to the excellent support she received. She was a clear thinking administrator who provided well-organized leadership to the department.
Intellectually, Anne is best known for her excellent scholarship. Three of her books have become classics in the field: "Differential Psychology," "Fields of Applied Psychology," and "Psychological Testing." The last title went through 7 editions and is recognized worldwide as one of the most important psychology texts of the twentieth century. Her network of academic and scholarly colleagues included some of the most significant figures of 20th century psychology: Harry Hollingworth, Robert S. Woodworth, Hans Eysenck, Charles Spearman, Edna Heidbreder were among them.
Despite, or perhaps because of her excellent training and expertise, Anne always considered herself a generalist. In her writing she always tried to communicate clearly and as simply as possible. She stated in her oral history, that, "when I wrote I was going to take tough things and make them simple."
Anne Anastasi received many awards, among them, honorary doctorates from Fordham, Villanova, and the University of Windsor. She served as APA President in 1972, the first woman in over 50 years to do so. Professional honors included, the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology, the Educational Testing Services Award for Distinguished Service to Measurement, the American Psychological Foundation's Gold Medal for Life Achievement, and the American Education Research Association's Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education.
Anne was married to fellow psychologist, John Porter Foley, Jr., for over sixty years. She died in her home city, New York, at the age of 92 in 2001. She was a giant of psychology.
The full-text of many of Anastasi's published works can be found at PsycArticles Direct.