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Ernest McCormick papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 508

Scope and Contents

The Ernest J. McCormick papers document the life and career of Professor Emeritus and President of PAQ Services Ernest J. McCormick. The majority of the papers date from 1945 to the late 1980s. The McCormick papers document McCormick’s private life and professional career, particularly his professional activities during his tenure at Purdue University. Some personal papers are included, which document McCormick’s academic background, books from his personal library as a child, and materials about and by his daughters. Whenever possible, folder labels in series 2 and 3 have been maintained and complemented with the date range covered. Types of materials in the collection include: correspondence, reports, printed material (brochures, publications, newspaper clippings, books); certificates; diplomas; schedules and itineraries; rosters and lists, photographs; articles written by or about McCormick. Subjects extensively covered include Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) related publications, ergonomics and human factor engineering.


  • 1870 - 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1988


Language of Materials

While the majority of the material is in English, a few newspaper clippings are exclusively in Italian (Series 2, Box 2, Folder 16) and one of McCormick's articles is available in Japanese (Series 3, Box 3, Folder 20).

Access Information

Collection is open for research. One folder is restricted.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Ernest J. McCormick was born in Indianapolis on August 22, 1911, but grew up in Ohio, where he received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1933. Before coming to Purdue University in 1946 to pursue his graduate education in industrial psychology, he had worked with the U.S. Employment Services, the Bureau of the Census, and the Selective Service System. As chief of the planning unit, job analysis and information section, he laid the groundwork for a job classification and coding system for federal agencies, which later evolved into the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945, becoming a lieutenant commander before he retired due to illness. Within three years at Purdue (1946 to 1948), he received his master’s degree and his Ph.D., upon which he joined the faculty ranks at Purdue until his retirement in 1977. During his three decades at Purdue, McCormick wrote more than 200 major articles and book chapters on job analysis, classification and evaluation. As a respected mentor in the field, he has advised more than 120 graduate students, many of whom have become renowned members in the area of industrial and organizational psychology. While at Purdue, he taught Purdue’s first engineering psychology course, which eventually led to the publication of "Human Engineering" in 1957. The seventh edition of this book, now entitled "Human Factors in Engineering and Design," was published in 1993 and is available in multiple languages. Awards in McCormick’s honor have been established in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Purdue University and at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). Alumni who studied with Ernest McCormick and the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University established the Ernest J. McCormick Fund to endow a lectureship in his memory.

Jeanneret, P. Richard. “In Memory of Ernest J. McCormick (1911-1990).” Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Web. 18 September 2017. />.
Koppes, Laura. “Ideals of Science: Persons Behind the SIOP Awards.” Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Web. 18 September 2017. / >


3.20 Cubic Feet (Three cubic foot boxes, two flat folders, and one folder)


The collection is arranged in three series:
  1. Personal Life, 1910s-1992. This series consists of clippings, letters, artifacts, photographs, and documents related to Ernest McCormick’s personal life, including materials about his three daughters and academic records as a student. Artifacts. The artifacts within the series include a graduation tussle, hair, handmade decorations by the daughters. Materials in the series are arranged chronologically and topically.
  2. Professional Life, 1945-1994. This series consists of certificates, newspaper clippings, letters, correspondence related to Ernest McCormick’s professional engagement at and beyond Purdue University. Of special note are special letters to and from important government officials, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert S. McNamara, and Ronald Reagan as well as the correspondence with the Gilbreth Carey family.
  3. Publications, 1945-1989. The series consists of reports, articles and chapters written and gathered by Ernest J. McCormick from 1945 to 1989. It also includes materials and correspondence with various publishers for his three major books, Human Factor Engineering, Industrial Psychology and Job Analysis.

Acquisition Information

These materials were donated to the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections by Wynne Lewis, the daughter of Enerst J. McCormick, on July 11, 2017.

Processing Information

Whenever possible, the original order of the materials has been retained. All materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes. All newsprint has been photocopied and original newspaper clippings have been retained for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research.
Ernest McCormick papers
Amanda Rumba and Jennifer Sdunzik
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description was first completed by Jennifer Sdunzik, September 13, 2017.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-11-11: This collection description was updated by Amanda Rumba to meet data entry requirements.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States