The genesis of Allport’s 1942 <em>Use of Personal Documents in Psychological Science</em>.

Published by the interdisciplinary Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Allport’s 1942 monograph on The Use of Personal Documents in Psychological Science (Allport, 1942) arose from the intersection of 2 sets of concerns: an extended effort by the SSRC during the 1920s and 1930s to chart the boundaries of valid research methodologies in the social sciences, and Allport’s insistence that psychology must account scientifically for individual persons in course of their actual lives. This historical review details a crisis that emerged in the late 1930s within SSRC-sponsored research concerning whether investigators could even use nonquantitative sources such as personal documents as scientific data. Allport’s own early scholarly agenda embraced German-influenced case study methods and the emerging field of personality psychology. This report outlines how, as Allport’s influence grew in the 1930s, he became a central, insistent, but relatively lonely voice rejecting psychological research methods that were exclusively experimental and quantitative. In this context, the Committee on Appraisal of Research of the SSRC accepted Allport’s self-nomination in early 1941 to assess how such data had been and could be used in psychology to achieve reliable and valid scientific results. This review traces how he went about the assignment and the uncertain evaluation he gave of his own work as it reached publication. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)