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George Trumbull Ladd (January 19, 1842 – August 8, 1921) was an American philosopher, educator and psychologist.


Early life and ancestorsEdit

He was born in Painesville, on January 19, 1842, the son of Silas Trumbull Ladd and Elizabeth Williams.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

He was a grandson of Jesse Ladd and Ruby Brewster,[7] who were among the original pioneers in Madison, Lake County, Ohio. Ruby was a granddaughter of Oliver Brewster[8] and Martha Wadsworth Brewster, a poet and writer, and one of the earliest American female literary figures.

He was a descendant of Elder William Brewster (c. 1567 – April 10, 1644), the Pilgrim leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower, and Governor William Bradford (1590–1657) of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower. He was also a 7th generation direct lineal descendant of Daniel Ladd, Sr. (1613–1693).[9]


He early gave indications of the studious habits that characterized him through life. When he was eight years old his first savings, two dollars, were spent for a copy of Josephus and Plutarch, while when eighteen years of age he read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

Most of his work in preparing for college was done by himself, only a portion of the time being given to the curriculum in the Painesville High School and at the college preparatory school of the Rev. Mr. Brayton in Painesville, Ohio.

He graduated from Western Reserve College in 1864 and from Andover Theological Seminary in 1869. He was ordained to the Congregational ministry on May 26, 1870. The degree of Doctor of Divinity (D.D. or DD, Divinitatis Doctor in Latin) was conferred on him by Western Reserve College in 1879; Yale University that of M.A. in 1881, Western Reserve College that of LL.D. in 1895, and Princeton University that of LL.D. in 1896.


After graduation, he went into business with his father. His constant studies, however, seemed to turn his steps naturally toward a higher institution of learning, with the result that in 1866 he went to the Andover Theological Seminary.

In 1869, he was installed as the pastor of the Congregational Church in Edinburg, Ohio, remaining here until 1871. In 1871 he began to preach at the Spring Street Congregational Church of Milwaukee, Wisconsin leaving in 1879.[10] He was professor of intellectual and moral philosophy at Bowdoin College from 1879 to 1881, and Clark professor of metaphysics and moral philosophy at Yale University from 1881 until 1901, when he took charge of the graduate department of philosophy and psychology; he became professor emeritus in 1905. He retired in 1906.

During 1879 to 1882 he lectured on theology at Andover Theological Seminary, and in 1883 at Harvard University, where during the time period of 1895 to 1896 he conducted a graduate seminar in ethics.

Between 1892 and 1899, at the invitation of the Government of Japan, he served as a diplomatic adviser and helped the Cabinet under Prime Minister Hirofumi Ito (1841–1909) to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.

He lectured at Imperial University in Japan in 1892 and 1899 (when he also visited the universities of India in Calcutta, Bombay and Benares) and again from 1906 to 1907.[11]

The series of lectures he delivered in Japan revolutionized its educational methods;[12] In 1899, Emperor Meiji conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, which represents the third highest of eight classes associated with the award. Trumbull was again honored in 1907, this time with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, which represents the second highest of eight classes. He was the first foreigner to receive the honor in this class.[13][13][14]

He was much influenced by the German philosopher Hermann Lotze, whose Outlines of Philosophy he translated (6 vols., 1877) and was one of the first to introduce (1879) the study of experimental psychology into America; the Yale psychological laboratory being founded by him. In 1887, he published Elements of Physiological Psychology, the first American textbook to include a substantial amount of information on the new experimental form of the discipline.

Marriage and familyEdit

He married on December 8, 1869 at Bridgeport, Belmont County, Ohio, Cornelia Ann Tallman, born August 26, 1842 at St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio and died on October 19, 1893 at North Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut.[15] She was the daughter of Ellen Ryne and John C. Tallman, a well-known banker and business man of Bridgeport, Ohio.

George and Cornelia were the parents of four children:

He married second, on December 9, 1895, Frances Virginia Stevens,[18] born February 9, 1866 at New York City, the daughter of Dr. George T. Stevens and Harriet Weeks Wadhams. There were no children from the second marriage.


Ladd died on August 8, 1921 at New Haven, Connecticut.[19] After cremation, half his ashes were buried in a Tokyo Temple and a monument was erected to him. The remaining ashes were interred under a monument of the rising sun in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Ct.[13][20][21]

He was elected APA president in 1893



  • The Principles of Church Polity (1882)
  • The Doctrine of Sacred Scripture (1884)
  • What is the Bible? (1888)
  • Essays on the Higher Education (1899), defending the "old" (Yale) system against the Harvard or "new" education, as praised by George H. Palmer
  • Elements of Physiological Psychology (1889, rewritten as Outlines of Physiological Psychology, in 1890)
  • Primer of Psychology (1894)
  • Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory (1894)
  • Outlines of Descriptive Psychology (1898); in a "system of philosophy"
  • Philosophy of the Mind (1891)
  • Philosophy of Knowledge (1897)
  • A Theory of Reality (1899)
  • Philosophy of Conduct (1902)
  • Philosophy of Religion (2 vols., 1905)
  • In Korea with Marquis Ito (1908)
  • Knowledge, Life and Reality (1909)



  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Preceded by:
G. Stanley Hall
American Psychological Association

Succeeded by:
William James

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