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Dr. Helen L. Prouty Papers

Identifier: MS-0196

Scope and Contents

The Helen Prouty Papers document Prouty’s professional career as a professor of educational psychology at San Diego State University with focus on both her professional career and private practice. The documents date from approximately 1927 to 2004 with the bulk of the material from 1950 to 1989. The collection consists of correspondence, lecture materials, private research materials, and documents about the organizations she was affiliated with during her lifetime. The papers are organized into three series: Personal Records, Professional Records, and Photos.

The Personal Records series consists of four sub series that pertain to Helen’s personal life and are filed chronologically. The first sub series is composed of her correspondence with family, friends, and students, and include such items as postcards, holiday cards, and telegrams. The second sub series contains Helen’s financial records dating from 1948-2004. The third sub series contains material about Prouty’s education from high school to graduate school, and includes such items as her college notes, transcripts, and her Ph.D. dissertation. The fourth sub series contains such miscellaneous items as a copy of her birth, marriage, and divorce certificates, her date books spanning from 1954-1977, along with travel and World War II memorabilia.

The Professional Records series contains material from different aspects of Professor Prouty’s career and contains the bulk of the collection. It is filed alphabetically and divided into 5 sub series. The first sub series entitled Courses Taught contains such documents as syllabi, lecture materials and exams. Prouty used these materials while teaching various educational and psychology courses throughout her career. The second sub series is titled Faculty Activities and includes correspondence, documents from her sabbatical trip to India, the work she did as an accrediting commissioner to local schools, her retirement documents, and other documents pertaining to the faculty (i.e. faculty retreat documents and faculty bulletins). Research, the third sub series is composed of materials that document her research. The bulk of this sub series consists of standardized testing material that she used to measure everything from IQ scores to personality traits. This sub series also contains the work she did relating to over and under achievers and the role different personalities play in one’s success. The fourth sub series is titled Other Employment and contains correspondence, applications, and course materials Prouty used at other universities/jobs besides serving as Professor at San Diego State. The fifth sub series, Organizations, contains materials from the various organizations that Professor Prouty was a member of and includes correspondence, yearbooks, awards, membership information, and newsletters.

The Photos series is the smallest series and is filed alphabetically. It contains photos of Prouty’s family and friends, as well as, various schools she taught at. The dates on these photos range from approximately 1930-1960.


  • Creation: 1926-2004
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1950-1989


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Helen Lucia Prouty was born November 21, 1908 in Shelton, Nebraska to George and Martha (Bassett) Prouty. She was the third of six children. After receiving her high school diploma in 1926, Helen’s mother encouraged her to continue her education. She then enrolled at the Nebraska State Teacher’s College at Kearney where she received her junior college diploma and a teaching credential in 1928. While teaching at schools in western and central Nebraska, Helen simultaneously took classes at the University of Nebraska. She graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.

For the next six years, Helen taught in the Nebraska area. In 1945, she moved to Biloxi, Mississippi where she served as a Civil Service instructor in electrical maintenance at the Army Air Force Technical School at Kessler Field. In 1947, Helen left Kessler to attend the Lewis School of Hotel Management in Washington, D.C. After that, she joined her mother and her sister Barbara in Oakland, California. Helen resumed her studies and enrolled at the University of California at Berkley where she received her Master of Arts Degree in 1950 and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 1951.

Upon graduation, Helen received an Assistant Professor teaching position at San Diego State College. Prouty was the first woman to join the faculty of the School of Education and the first female faculty member at San Diego State to hold a Ph.D. She spent the rest of her teaching career at San Diego State, and retired in 1976.

During her tenure at San Diego State, Helen attained the rank of Professor of Secondary Education. She taught various courses relating to education, educational psychology, and counseling. In addition, she helped the school develop the first Master’s Degree program and she helped create the first program for student nurses. Helen was actively involved in faculty affairs and numerous professional organizations. She served as a guest Professor and taught summer sessions at the University of Oregon in Eugene, University of Manitoba, University of Victoria, and the University of California, Berkley. One of the highlights of her career occurred in 1969, when she received a personal invitation from Princess Maryam to spend two months in India assisting with the development of curriculum that would be used in the adult education courses in child development and psychology for the women of the Bohra community, an Islamic sect in Bombay.

In addition to her many academic accomplishments, Helen was involved in a variety of organizations outside the academic arena. She was a licensed Psychologist and a member of the California State Psychological Association and the Academy of San Diego Psychologists. She participated in the formation of the San Diego Psych-Law Society in 1973, and served as secretary and historian for several years. She was a member of Pi Lambda Theta (National Honor and Professional Association in Education), Phi Delta Kappa (Professional Fraternity in Education), the San Diego Women’s Club, and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. She also served as a silent partner in her sister’s business, a chain of women’s fashions shops located around the San Diego area.

Upon her sister Barbara’s death in 1997, Helen continued to live on her own. She was hospitalized in late 2004 after a few health setbacks. Following her stay at a local San Diego hospital, Helen was moved to a rehabilitation center in La Jolla where she passed away in her sleep on January 2, 2005. She was 96 years old.


20.84 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Personal, 1926-2004

   1.) Correspondence, 1927-1996

   2.) Financial Records, 1948-2004

   3.) Education, 1926-1986

   4.) Miscellaneous, 1908-1977

II. Professional, 1949-2002

   1.) Courses Taught, 1949-1976

   2.) Faculty Activities, 1952-2000

   3.) Research, 1939-1965

   4.) Other Employment, 1941-1969

   5.) Organizations, 1970-2002

III. Photos

Source of Acquisition

Estate of Dr. Helen L. Prouty

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Dr. Helen L. Prouty Papers
Katie Richardson (Intern)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US