Who’s who at Whitehead’s 70th Birthday Party?

The symposium in honor of Whitehead’s seventieth birthday was organized by his friend and Chair of the Harvard Philosophy Department, James Haughton Woods. The proceedings were collected in a 29-page booklet printed – but not published – by Harvard University Press. It lists forty people in attendance, including Whitehead himself, of which Whitehead and eight others are recorded as speaking.[1] Several speakers discussed Process and Reality, which had been published only a few years prior.

Whitehead’s speech at the symposium was later published in Essays in Science and Philosophy, but with all references to the original occasion of the address and all references to Whitehead’s responding directly to other speakers removed.

It should not be surprising that a number of attendees are psychologists, given that, at this time, there was a single “Department of Philosophy and Psychology” located in Emerson Hall at Harvard University. Indeed, several of the attendees here (Murray, Boring, and Allport) were decisive in shaping the history of the department from its original state with Philosophy to a Department of Social Relations, then a Department of Psychology and Social Relations and finally (in 1986) the Department of Psychology.[2]

The following is an attempt to provide readers with a sense as to the impressive guests who attended this event in Whitehead’s honor. Whitehead’s response to the speeches delivered will be published as part of the Critical Edition of Whitehead in Essays and Articles: 1917–1942 (forthcoming).

G. W. Allport Credit: C. George Boeree. Public domain.

G. W. Allport

Gordon Willard Allport (1897–1967) was a professor of psychology at Harvard University from 1930 to 1967.  Allport was one of the first psychologists to focus on the study of the personality and is often referred to as one of the founding figures of personality psychology.

J. G. Beebe-Center

John Gilbert Beebe-Center (1897–1958), was an instructor of psychology at Harvard University. His book on The Psychology of Pleasantness and Unpleasantness was released around the time of the Symposium (1932).

G. D. Birkhoff. Credit: unknown. Rudolf Fritsch. Der Vierfarbensatz: Geschichte, topologische Grundlagen und Beweisidee. Mannheim: BI-Wissenschaftsverlag, 1994; S.29, Public Domain

G. D. Birkhoff*

George David Birkhoff, (1884 –1944) was a leading mathematician of his time and is best known for what is now called the ergodic theorem. He taught at Harvard University from 1912 until his death. (For more on connections between Whitehead and Birkhoff, see the entry on Whitehead’s Universal Algebra in the Whitehead Encyclopedia.) He was third to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

R. M. Blake

Ralph Mason Blake (1889-1950) was professor of philosophy and chair at Brown University. 

E. G. Boring Credit: unknown. Image from the History of Medicine (NLM), Record: 101410611. Public Domain.

E. G. Boring

Edwin Garrigues “Gary” Boring (1886-1968) was an experimental psychologist and credited as the first major historian of psychology. He was on the faculty Harvard from 1922 until 1956 when retired as the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology. Boring, with the approval of Harvard President James B. Conant, helped establish greater focus on experimental psychology by advocating for a separate department in 1934 that became entirely autonomous from Philosophy in 1936.

R. C. Cabot. Credit: unknown. The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education

R. C. Cabot

Richard Clarke Cabot (1868-1939) received his bachelor’s in classics and philosophy from Harvard College in 1889 and his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1892. He is credited with discovering Cabot rings, and for describing, along with his colleague, Locke, the eponymous Cabot-Locke murmur. Lowe tells us that in July 1925 the Whiteheads “spent weekends at the Cabtos’ cottage fifteen miles from Boston.”[3]  As described in detail in Harvard Lectures 1925-1927 (HL2, vii-lix) Whitehead guest lectured in Cabot’s “Social Ethics seminary” on 18 October 1926. Cabot was a close family friend of William Ernest Hocking (also in attendance at Whitehead’s birthday symposium). In a letter to his son North from December of 1924, he writes “Of course no one, not a millionaire, keeps a chauffeur. Cabot is a millionaire, via his wife, but is much too conscientious to spend money in that way. The idea of the New Englanders flaunting their wealth is quite wrong. They are much more likely to be living on half their incomes, and either investing the rest or giving it away–about equal chances which.”[4] This statement is somewhat prescient in that money from the Hocking and Cabot estates was put into a permanent trust – the Hocking-Cabot Fund for Systematic Philosophy – which was for years overseen by Hocking’s son, Richard Hocking. Funding from the Hocking-Cabot Fund helped support the first two editorial conferences of the Critical Edition of Whitehead.

M. R. Cohen. Credit: unknown.

M. R. Cohen*

Morris Raphael Cohen (1880–1947) was American philosopher and legal scholar who received his doctorate from Harvard in 1906 and taught at City College of New York from 1912 to 1938. As a student at Harvard, Morris Cohen had been the roommate of Felix Frankfurter, another friend of Whitehead’s who was also present at this symposium. His son, Felix S. Cohen, was in Whitehead’s ‘Philosophy 3b’ in fall 1926, with Whitehead awarding him an ‘A’ for his efforts.[5] Whitehead would later write a recommendation letter for Felix Cohen at his father’s request.[6] He was fifth to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

C. P. Curtis, Jr., Credit: Unknown

C. P. Curtis, Jr.

Charles (Charlie) Pelham Curtis IV (1891-1959) was a Boston Brahmin. He earned a bachelors and law degree from Harvard University and was elected a Fellow of Harvard Corporation in 1924. He was a prominent attorney in Cambridge, MA with his brother, Richard Curtis. He was friends with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.[7] Curtis was part of the “Committee of Four,” along with Whitehead, Lawrence J. Henderson, and John Livingston Lowes.[8] Starting in 1926, their purpose was to choose four to eight “Junior Fellows” per year for the newly created “Society of Fellows,” based on a system of Prize Fellowships at Trinity College, Cambridge. Each chosen Fellow would devote three years to the research that most interested them, with an option for three more. The first Fellows chosen were W. V. O. Quine, B. F. Skinner, Garrett Birkhoff (who also attended this symposium), John C. Miller, Frederick M. Watkins, and E. Bright Wilson, Jr. Though meetings began in 1926, the Society was not officially established until 1933, thanks to a donation from Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell shortly before his resignation in 1932.

W. F. Dearborn. Credit: unknown. Radcliffe College 1917 Year-Book, page 15. Public domain.

W. F. Dearborn

Walter Fenno Dearborn (1878–1955) received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wesleyan University and his MD from the University of Göttingen. He was a pioneering American educator and experimental psychologist who helped to establish the field of reading education. He joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1912 where he founded the Psycho-Educational Clinic.[9]

C. J. Ducasse. From Ducasse, A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death, 1961. Public domain.

C. J. Ducasse*

Curt John Ducasse (1881–1969) was a French-born American philosopher who taught at the University of Washington and Brown University. He received his doctorate from Harvard University. He was influenced by William James and Josiah Royce, the latter being his doctoral advisor. His work was in the philosophy of mind and in aesthetics. He influenced, among others, Roderick Chisholm and Wilfrid Sellars. He was fourth to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

F. Frankfurter. Credit: Harris & Ewing – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a37338.

F. Frankfurter

Felix Frankfurter (1882–1965) was an Austrian-born American jurist who would go on to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1939 until 1962, during which period he was a noted advocate of judicial restraint in its judgements. He emigrated to New York City at the age of 12. He earned his bachelor’s from City College of New York and his J.D. from Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and later (1921) a chair on the law faculty. In 1920 he helped found the ACLU. Encouraged by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, he became involved in supporting the effort to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. In the late 1920s, he was a vocal proponent of a new trial for Sacco and Vanzetti. Following the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, Frankfurter quickly became a trusted and loyal adviser to the new president. Whitehead and Frankfurter became close friends; for more on their relationship, see the blog on this site.[10]

(L-R) Whitehead, Lawrence J. Henderson, Henry Osborn Taylor, and William Morton Wheeler, 1932.[11]

L. J. Henderson

Lawrence Joseph Henderson (1878–1942) received both his undergraduate and his medical education at Harvard, and following a few years of research at Strasbourg joined the Harvard faculty in biological chemistry, but with an interest in philosophical and sociological issues. Henderson’s biological view of the order of nature as “biocentric“ has fascinated scientists, philosophers, and theologians until today—starting with Whitehead, who claimed in PR 89 that The Fitness of the Environment (1913),[12] The Order of Nature (1917) and Blood: A Study in General Physiology (1928) “are fundamental for any discussion of this subject [the order of nature].”[13]

Henderson was one of about two dozen Harvard scientists who called themselves the “Royce Club.” Henderson was involved in the effort to recruit Whitehead to Harvard, as evidenced by the letter Henderson wrote to him in January of 1924 expressing his hope that Whitehead would join him on the faculty.[14] According to Lowe, Henderson directly petitioned Harvard President Lowell to hire Whitehead.[15]

In August of 1925 Whitehead vacationed at Henderson’s cabin in Vermont, shortly after completing his Lowell Lectures, which would become Science and the Modern World. Henderson was part of the ‘Committee of Four’ that begin meeting in 1926 (Whitehead, L. J. Henderson, John Livingston Lowes, Charles P. Curtis (all but Lowes were in attendance at this symposium). See more above under C. P. Curtis. (See also Henderson’s entry in the Whitehead Encyclopedia.)

W. E. Hocking. Credit: unknown. Harvard University Archives [16]

W. E. Hocking

William Ernest Hocking (1873–1966) was born in Ohio and had studied engineering at Iowa State University before turning to philosophy. He studied under Royce at Harvard beginning in 1899 and completed his master’s degree in 1901. The first American to study with Husserl at Göttingen, Hocking also studied in Berlin and Heidelberg before completing his PhD at Harvard in 1904. His early years teaching were at Andover Theological Seminary, Berkeley and Yale before returning to Harvard in 1914. Hocking was instrumental in bringing Whitehead to Harvard.[17] Hocking sat in on Whitehead’s course in his first year at Harvard and his notes are published in HL1. The Hockings and Whiteheads became close family friends.

It is apt that funding from Hocking’s estate later went to support the creation of the Critical Edition of Whitehead. See the entry on Cabot above for more on this connection. (See Hocking’s entry in the Whitehead Encyclopedia.)

E. V. Huntington. Harvard University, 1925. Smithsonian Institution.

E. V. Huntington

Edward Vermilye Huntington (1874–1952) earned his bachelor’s and master’s from Harvard and doctorate from the University of Strasbourg. A professor of mechanics, he spent his entire career on the faculty of Harvard, working primarily on the foundations of mathematics. Huntington proposed a method of appointing representatives to the US Congress. This was published as “Edward V Huntington, Methods of Apportionment in Congress. A survey of methods of apportionment in Congress. Senate document no. 304, 76th Congress, Third session. United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1940″. The method was adopted in 1941 and is still in use.[18] In 1919 Huntington was president of the Mathematical Association of America, an organization he helped to found. He retired just a few years after Whitehead, in 1941.

From Andrew J. Reck, ed., Knowledge and Value: Essays in Honor of Harold N. Lee (Tulane: Tulane Studies in Philosophy, 1972).

H. N. Lee

Harold Newton Lee (1899-1990) taught philosophy at Tulane University for 45 years until his retirement in 1970. As professor of philosophy at Newcomb College, the undergraduate women’s division of Tulane, and head of the Newcomb philosophy department, he carried a heavy burden of teaching and administration. He was the co-founder and long-time editor of Tulane Studies in Philosophy. Lowe tells us that Lee shared the helpful information that “Whitehead had discussed with C. I. Lewis the question of the proper adjectival form of category. Lewis was writing Mind and the World Order, and needed it. They agreed that categorical was bad because of its established use in logic. But as they had only talked about this, Lewis wrote categorial, Whitehead categoreal, a word which Webster does not recognize.”[19]

J. Lee. Credit: unknown. (1935)

Joseph Lee*

Joseph Lee (1862–1937) earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard University. He never practiced law but was a social worker and philanthropist and served on the Harvard Overseers’ Committee, where he helped found the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is often referred to as “the grandfather of play.” He authored articles and books on recreation, education, social work, economics, and democracy, including Constructive and Preventive Philanthropy (1902) and Play in Education (1916). Along with Jane Addams, Lee was elected as Vice-President of the Playground Association of America in 1906. He is listed in the Symposium booklet as the toastmaster, but if he made any remarks they were not recorded.[20]

O. H. Lee. Credit: unknown. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

O. H. Lee

Otis Hamilton Lee (1902–1948) was a Rhodes scholar and Guggenheim Fellow. He earned his bachelor’s from St. John’s College, Oxford, and his doctorate from Harvard University where he was an instructor and tutor from 1930 to 1933 and 1934-1935. In the 1931–1932 academic year he was Whitehead’s course assistant, helping him grade papers. A neo-Hegelian, he was influenced by both Whitehead and C. I. Lewis (also in attendance at the Symposium). He went on to teach at both Pomona College and Vassar College. He was an editor and contributor to the 1936 edited collection Philosophical Essays for Alfred North Whitehead.

C. I. Lewis. From Paul Arthur Schilpp, Ed. The Philosophy of C. I. Lewis (1968).

C. I. Lewis

Clarence Irving Lewis (1883–1964) earned his bachelor’s and doctorate in philosophy from Harvard University where he taught from 1920 to 1953, eventually filling the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy. He is considered a founder of modern modal logic and of conceptual pragmatism. He was the first to coin the term “Qualia” as it used today in philosophy, linguistics, and cognitive sciences. He can rightly be seen as both a late pragmatist and an early analytic philosopher. Arguably, the same could be said of Whitehead.

A. O. Lovejoy. Credit: unknown. Fair use.

A. O. Lovejoy*

Arthur Oncken Lovejoy (1873–1962) earned his bachelor’s from University of California Berkeley and his master’s from Harvard University, where he studied with both William James and Josiah Royce. Though he did not complete the doctorate, he became a well-regarded philosopher and intellectual historian, known for having founded the discipline called “the history of ideas” through the publication of his 1936 The Great Chain of Being. He taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1910 to 1938 where he co-founded the Journal of the History of Ideas. He also helped found the American Association of University Professors. He was eighth (and last, before Whitehead himself) to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

Portrait of John William Miller. Williams College Archives and Special Collections

J. W. Miller

John William Miller (1895–1978) earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from Harvard University, writing under William Ernest Hocking (also in attendance). For most of his career he was professor of philosophy at Williams College where he ultimately held the Mark Hopkins Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy. The John William Miller Society at Williams College is dedicated to his career and thought.[21] Miller sent Lowe a memorable recollection of Whitehead’s teaching: “After the appropriate interval following the stroke of the bell, Whitehead came in, dressed in nineteenth-century style, looking like Mr. Pickwick, and beaming benevolently.”[22]

In a letter to Lowe recalling Whitehead’s first lecture at Harvard in 1924, Miller recalls: “the opening lecture plunged us into a morass of absolutely unintelligible metaphysics …. His longest and most difficult sentences all ended … with the gleaming words, ‘ … you know.’ We, of course, didn’t know anything, so far as that lecture was concerned. When the hour ended we were completely baffled, and in despair about the course, but we were also all in love with Whitehead as a person for somehow the overwhelming magic of his being had shown through.”[23]

Charles Moore. Public domain

C. H. Moore

Charles Moore (1855–1942) was an American journalist, historian and city planner. He graduated from Harvard in 1878, where he was President of The Harvard Crimson during his final year and in 1900 earned his PhD in history at Columbian College (now George Washington University). He was successively editor of the Detroit Times, Journal, and Tribune, and was appointed clerk of the United States Senate Committee on the District of Columbia in 1891. In 1910 he became a founding member of the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in Washington. He served as Overseer of Harvard University from 1924 to 1930, which honored him with the degree of Doctor of Arts in 1937.

W. P. Montague. Credit: Blackstone Studios[24]

W. P. Montague*

William Pepperell Montague (1873–1953) earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from Harvard University. He was a professor of philosophy at Columbia University for much of his career and a proponent of New Realism. Lowe tells us that Whitehead’s first presentation at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association was a symposium on time in 1925 with Montague and W. H. Sheldon (see below) also presenting.[25] A long 1923 letter to Whitehead thanked him for his The Principle of Relativity, and discussed consternation that Einstein’s theories were apparently true. He was sixth to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

G. A. Morgan, Jr.

George Allen Morgan, Jr. (1905–?) appears to have been a professor of philosophy at Duke University and is best known for his 1941 book What Nietzsche Means. Though Walter Kauffman’s work on Nietzsche is often credited as the first major English language study of Nietzsche, Morgan’s work pre-dates it by a decade.

H. A. Murray, Jr. Harvard University Archives

H. A. Murray, Jr.

Henry Alexander Murray (1893–1988) earned his bachelor’s from Harvard University, a master’s from Columbia University, and the doctorate from University of Cambridge. American psychologist and Harvard professor, Murray was a pioneer in the development of personality theory and is perhaps best known as co-inventor of the Thematic Apperception Test or TAT. Though not personally close, Murray is said to have sat in on some of Whitehead’s lectures. And Whitehead’s metaphysics influenced the development of Murray’s “personology.”[26]

Murray was Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic in the School of Arts and Sciences after 1930. In an unsigned 2 April 1931 letter thought to be from Felix Frankfurter (see his entry above) to Whitehead, the author expresses concern that Murray’s psychological clinic would be moved to the Medical School.

According to his entry in Wikipedia, from 1959 to 1962, he conducted a series of psychologically damaging and purposefully abusive experiments on minors and undergraduate students. One of those students was Ted Kaczynski, later known as the Unabomber.

R. B. Perry. Harvard University Archives.[27]

R. B. Perry

Ralph Barton Perry (1876–1957) earned his bachelor’s from Princeton University and master’s and doctorate from Harvard University. A student of William James’, Perry joined the Harvard philosophy department in 1902, eventually becoming the Edgar Peirce Professor of Philosophy. He was a leading figure among the New Realism movement.

Perry, along with James Haughton Woods (Department Chair) and William Ernest Hocking, led the effort to build up the Harvard Philosophy Department. Perry himself would succeed Woods as Chair of the Department. Perry’s biography of William James won a 1936 Pulitzer Prize. In a 2 January 1936 letter to Charles Hartshorne, Whitehead mentions having read Perry’s books on James, calling it “a wonderful disclosure of the living repercussions of late 19th century thought on a sensitive genius.”[28]

D. W. Prall. 1904 Saginaw High School, Saginaw, Michigan

D. W. Prall

David Wight Prall (1886–1940) earned his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Michigan and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a professor of philosophy at Harvard University in the 1920-1921 academic year and then from 1930 to 1940. While at Harvard, Prall was a teacher and mentor to Leonard Bernstein, who dedicated his 1973 Norton lectures at Harvard to Prall’s memory. Prall criticized the positivist standards of beauty and academic inquiry. Instead, he emphasized the validation of experience and feeling.

B. Rand. Credit: unknown. Harvard University Portrait Collection, 1931

B. Rand

Benjamin Rand (1856–1934) earned his bachelor’s and master’s from Acadia University in Nova Scotia and his doctorate from Harvard University. He taught in the philosophy department from 1892–1902 and was Librarian of the Emerson Philosophical Library at Harvard from 1906 until his retirement in 1933.

I. A. Richards, From Richards Archive, Magdalene College Old Library

I. A. Richards

Ivor Armstrong Richards (1893–1979) earned his bachelor’s at Clifton College, Cambridge and his doctorate at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In collaboration with C. K. Ogden, in the 1930s he became a noted champion of Basic English as the simplest way to teach the language to non-native speakers. His work contributed to the foundations of New Criticism, a formalist movement in literary theory which emphasized the close reading of a literary text, especially poetry, in an effort to discover how a work of literature functions as a self-contained and self-referential aesthetic object. Around the time of this Symposium he was regularly teaching at Qinghua University (now Tsinghua University) in Beijing. He later taught English at Harvard from 1944 to 1963. [29]

H. M. Sheffer. Credit: unknown.

H. M. Sheffer

Henry Maurice Sheffer (1882–1964) was born in Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine) later becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States (1904). He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate at Harvard University, studying under Josiah Royce. Sheffer’s self-confidence as a scholar can be seen in his claim of a major error by his thesis advisor, Royce, in an appendix to his dissertation. He was hired to join the Harvard philosophy faculty as an Instructor shortly after Royce’s death in 1916 and he stayed until his retirement in 1952. As it turns out, Whitehead might have played some small role in the effort to keep Sheffer at Harvard.

According to O’Connor and Robertson, “since Sheffer was Jewish, Harvard University insisted his salary should be provided by outside sources.” This claim finds corroboration in a 1927 letter to Whitehead from Felix Frankfurter (who was also Jewish and at the birthday symposium; see above). Regarding what Frankfurter calls the “the whole Sheffer business” he says “There seems a real ground for believing that about $150,000 can be raised for a research professorship in the general field of inquiry pursued by Sheffer for Harvard University.”  He explained that the only requirement of the donation was that “Sheffer be made the first incumbent.”[30]

In Lowe’s recounting of the reception of Whitehead’s first lecture at Harvard in 1924, Sheffer is said to have muttered as he left the room, “Pure Bergsonianism: Pure Bergsonianism!” As Lowe notes, at Harvard, “that was name-calling.”[31]

For his part, we know that Whitehead had a very high opinion of Sheffer. In a 1927 memo to an unknown recipient—likely written in support of Sheffer’s promotion to Assistant—Whitehead writes: “Symbolic Logic, as the general theory of structure, has been generalized to its utmost extent by Dr. Sheffer. He has not only enunciated the general principles, but achieved the far more difficult [task] of making substantial progress in constructing the groundwork of the science.”[32] He then goes on to note his and Russell’s reliance on Sheffer’s method in Principia Mathematica. Sheffer introduced what is now known as the Sheffer stroke in 1913, but it was its use in Principia that helped it to become well known. In Sheffer’s 1926 review of the second edition of Principia, Sheffer contends that Whitehead and Russell have “by a meticulous step-by-step analysis . . . arrived, in terms of formal logic alone, at the ‘front door’ of cardinal arithmetic.”[33]

In a surviving letter fragment to an unknown recipient several years later (likely 1929, given that Whitehead indicates he had been at Harvard for five years), Whitehead is even more glowing in his estimation, writing that “Sheffer is one of the most brilliant speculators and systematizers in this region of thought [applied mathematics].”

W. H. Sheldon. Yale University Archives.[34]

W. H. Sheldon*

Wilmon Henry Sheldon (1875–1981) earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from Harvard University, studying with William James, Josiah Royce, and George Santayana with an abiding interest in metaphysics. For much of his career he was at Yale University, where he was the Sheldon Clark Professor of Philosophy. Sheldon, along with Montague (above), participated with Whitehead in the 1925 APA Symposium on time. Sheldon sustained an interest in process philosophy, with works such as America’s Progressive Philosophy (1942) and Process and Polarity (1944), which proposed a synthesis of idealism and naturalism. He was seventh to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

L-R: Henry Osborn Taylor, William Morton Wheeler, Lawrence J. Henderson, and Alfred North Whitehead[35]

H. O. Taylor*

Henry Osborn Taylor (1856–1941) received his bachelor’s from Harvard University and law degree from Columbia Law School. Taylor was married to the philanthropist Julia Isham (1866–1939). Unbeknownst to Whitehead, Taylor and Isham Taylor paid for his salary for his thirteen years at Harvard (1924-1937). Henry and Julia became close friends with Alfred and Evelyn. A number of letters between Whitehead and Osborn have survived.[36] He was second to speak at Whitehead’s birthday symposium.

L. T. Troland. Credit: unknown. (c. 1920)

L. T. Troland

Leonard Thompson Troland (1889–1932) earned his bachelors in biochemistry from MIT and his doctorate in psychology from Harvard University. He was chief engineer of the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation of California and was appointed director of research at Technicolor in 1925. He gave his name to the troland (symbol Td), the unit of conventional retinal illuminance. He died tragically not long after this birthday symposium (1932), falling near Mount Wilson Observatory in California when he suffered a fainting spell while having his picture taken at the edge of a canyon.

M. Upton

Morgan Upton (1898–1984) received his master’s and doctorate in psychology from Harvard University. He developed a specialty in industrial psychology and spent much of his career as head of the Department of Psychology of Rutgers University.

G. H. Warrington

George H. Warrington (1872–1940) was an attorney and chairman of the board of the University of Cincinnati.

P. Weiss. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library[37]

P. Weiss

Paul Weiss (1901–2002), after dropping out of high school and working variously as a tinsmith, coppersmith, and boilermaker, enrolled in night school at City College of New York where he studied with Morris R. Cohen (also at the birthday symposium; see above). After graduating with his bachelors in 1927 he went to Harvard University where he earned his master’s and doctorate in philosophy in two years (1929), writing under Whitehead on the topic of “Logic and System.” Weiss taught at Byrn Mawr College from 1931 to 1945 on the recommendation of Whitehead, after which he moved to Yale in 1946 until his forced retirement in 1969. He was the first Jewish professor to be tenured at Yale. Weiss founded the Review of Metaphysics in 1947 and the Metaphysical Society of America in 1950.

L-R William Morton Wheeler, Lawrence J. Henderson, Henry Osborn Taylor, Alfred North Whitehead[38]

W. M. Wheeler

William Morton Wheeler (1865–1937) left high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and became a custodian at Milwaukee Public Museum from 1887 to 1890. He earned a doctorate under C. O. Whitman at Clark University with a dissertation on “Contribution to Insect Embryology.” Wheeler followed Whitman to the University of Chicago in 1892. Wheeler eventually was professor of applied biology at Harvard University’s Bussey Institute, becoming one of the world’s foremost authorities on ants and other social insects. Dennis Sölch has argued that “The case of William Morton Wheeler and Alfred North Whitehead represents a striking example of how biologists and philosophers engaged in a common enterprise in the early twentieth century. Both challenge the notion that the living world is composed of distinct organisms. Based on his studies of the behavior of social insects, Wheeler developed a concept of superorganisms that paved the way for a theory of emergent evolution.”[39]

T. North Whitehead. From Alfred North Whitehead: The Man and His Work, 1910-1947, by Victor Lowe (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), p. 272.

T. N. Whitehead

Thomas North Whitehead (1891–1969) was Evelyn and Alfred North’s eldest son. He earned a bachelor’s in economics from Trinity College, Cambridge and did graduate work in mechanical engineering at University College London. North served as an army officer in France and East Africa during World War I, taking a leave from his graduate studies to do so. On the completion of his studies in 1920 after the war, he began working for the Admiralty, and remained there until his 1931 move to Harvard where he joined the Harvard Business School, running the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration, a business program for women at Radcliffe College. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1952. North’s son, George Whitehead, donated an important collection of papers for use in the Critical Edition.[40] 

L-R Alfred North Whitehead and James Haughton Woods. Credit: unknown

J. H. Woods

James Haughton Woods (1864–1935) earned his bachelors in Philosophy and English from Harvard and then a doctorate at the University of Strassburg and Berlin. Following an interest in Indic philosophy, he studied under Paul Deussen, translating one of his works into English. He returned to Harvard in 1903 where he remained until his retirement in 1934. He served as Chair of the Department of Philosophy from 1915-1918, 1920-1927, and 1930-1933. Whitehead co-wrote an obituary for him in 1935. For more on Whitehead and Woods, see the blog on this website. [41]

J. Wyman. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only license

J. Wyman

Jeffries Wyman III (1901–1995) was the third in successive generations to bear that name. The first Jeffries Wyman (1814-74) was a comparative anatomist and the first director of the Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology at Harvard. He was one of the founding members of the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. The second Jeffries Wyman was an officer in the Bell Telephone Company. When the third Jeffries entered Harvard College in 1919, he majored in philosophy. He graduated with highest honors in philosophy and with high honors in biology. He earned his doctorate from University College London in 1926, after which he joined the Biology Department at Harvard University where he remained until 1951.[42] His work focused on proteins, amino acids, and on the physical chemistry of hemoglobin, including the classic Monod–Wyman–Changeux model. From 1955-1958 he was director of a regional science office in the Middle East for UNESCO.

[1] The speakers were (in order): Joseph Lee, Henry Osborn Taylor, George David Birkhoff, Curt John Ducasse, Morris Raphael Cohen, William Pepperell Montague, William Herbert Sheldon, Arthur Oncken Lovejoy, and Whitehead. They are marked with an asterisk (*).


[3] Victor Lowe, Alfred North Whitehead: The Man and His Work 1910-1947, Vol. 2 (1990) p. 152.

[4] Lowe, Vol. 2., p. 302.

[5] Alfred North Whitehead, ‘Student Record Book for Harvard and Radcliffe Classes’, HUG 4877.10, Papers of Alfred North Whitehead, 1924–1947, Harvard University Archives, <>, p. 21.

[6] Alfred North Whitehead, Letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, 9 June 1930, and Alfred North Whitehead, Letter to Edward MacDowell, 10 June 1930, Morris Raphael Cohen Papers, 1898–1981, Box 13, Folder 1, University of Chicago Library, <>.

[7] George Caspar Homans. “Charles Pelham Curtis.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 72, 1957, pp. 385–94. JSTOR, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

[8] Lowe, Vol. 2., pp. 254–6.

[9] His papers are available at Harvard. Dearborn, Walter F. (Walter Fenno), 1878-1955. Papers of Walter Fenno Dearborn, 1917-1945. HUG 4319, Harvard University Archives.

[10] Joseph Petek, “Whitehead and Felix Frankfurter.”

[11] Julia Isham Taylor, “Photo of Whitehead, Lawrence J. Henderson, Henry Osborn Taylor, and William Morton Wheeler,” DOC079, Whitehead Research Library, accessed February 25, 2024,

[12] Both Bell and Hocking record Whitehead as explicitly noteing to his class on 11 December 1924 (HL1, pp. 135 and 137) that he was influenced by having read Henderson’s Fitness of the Environment.

[13] See also Windeln, Rudolf, “Lawrence J. Henderson (1878–1942)”, last modified 2008, The Whitehead Encyclopedia, Brian G. Henning and Joseph Petek (eds.), originally edited by Michel Weber and Will Desmond, URL = <>.

[14] Henderson, Lawrence J., “Letter from Lawrence J. Henderson to Whitehead,” LET1025, Whitehead Research Library, accessed February 25, 2024,

[15] Lowe, vol. 2, p. 133.

[16] Richard T. Hull, ed. “William Ernest Hocking,” Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (2013) p. 306

[17] In his 2016 book titled American Philosophy: A Love Story, John Kaag discusses looking through William Ernest Hocking’s massive library of first editions. In the book, Kaag wrote that: “Hocking courted Whitehead for several years and finally invited him to deliver the prestigious Lowell Lectures at Harvard in 1923, which were subsequently published as Science and the Modern World in 1925. The presentation copy of this book had been wedged into a rusty file cabinet at the back of the Hocking Library” (159–160). It’s worth noting that Kaag got a few things wrong in this paragraph: it was A. Lawrence Lowell, and not Hocking, who invited Whitehead to give the lectures, and the invitation was extended in 1924 with the lectures being delivered in 1925, not 1923. See Joseph Petek,

[18] J J O’Connor and E F Robertson,

[19] Lowe, vol. 2., p. 229.

[20] His papers are held by the Massachusetts Historical Society,

[21] See

[22] Lowe, vol 2., p. 141.

[23] Lowe., vole 2., p. 142.

[24] Richard T. Hull, ed. “William Pepperell Montague,” in Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (2013), p. 144.

[25] Lowe, Vol. 2, p. 203.

[26] Charles D. Laughlin, Jr. “The Influence of Whitehead’s Organism upon Murray’s Personology,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 9.3 (1973): 251–257.

[27] Richard T. Hull, ed. “Ralph Barton Perry,” in Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (2013), p. 1.

[28] Lowe, Vol. 2. pp. 345-46.


[30] J. J. O’Connnor and E. F. Robertson, “Henry Maurice Sheffer,” MacTutor, July 2020,

[31] Lowe, Voll. 2, p. 142.

[32] General Correspondence, 1878-1965. BOX 111, REEL 67 Whitehead, Alfred North, 1927-56 & Undated.

[33] H. M. Sheffer, Isis 8.1 (1926): 229.

[34] Richard T. Hull, ed. “Wilmon Henry Sheldon,” Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (2013), p. 50

[35] Julia Isham Taylor, “Photo of Henry Osborn Taylor, William Morton Wheeler, Lawrence J. Henderson, and Whitehead,” DOC091, Whitehead Research Library, accessed March 10, 2024,

[36] Whitehead Research Library,

[37] Richard T. Hull, ed. “Paul Weiss,” Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (2013) p. 396.


[39] Dennis Sölch, “Wheeler and Whitehead: Process Biology and Process Philosophy in the Early Twentieth Century,” Journal of History 77.3 (2016): 489-507.

[40] Brian G. Henning, “On the recently discovered Whitehead papers.”

[41] Harvard University Gazette 1935, vol. 30, pp. 153–155.

[42] Robert A. Alberty and Enrico Di Cera, “Jeffries Wyman 1901-1995,” National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs vol.l 83 (2003).

How to cite this blog: Henning, Brian G. “Who’s Who at Whitehead’s 70th Birthday Party?”