Mental Measurements: Selections from the University of Chicago Library Test Collection

Students take Placement Tests at the University of Chicago Field House,  1945.

Eight hundred students take Placement Tests at the University of Chicago Field House, September 25, 1945. Archival Photographic Files, University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center

Christine D. Bailey, Public Services Assistant for Tests

The University of Chicago Library maintains an extensive test collection designed to facilitate research in education and psychology through the use of instruments, measures, scales and tests.  The Collection currently includes over 5,600 separately published tests. (The Library holds many more tests in published books, journal articles, and specialized microform collections)  Most instruments are printed standardized tests with manuals, but many tests include objects, which examinees are to identify or manipulate.

The Library’s Test Collection, now featured in a mini-exhibit on Regenstein’s 4th floor, dates back to the early 1900’s. The present day collection originated to support the work of three programs: the College of Education, the Department of Psychology, and the Industrial Relations Center. Each of these programs developed its own collection of tests, scales, and similar instruments for faculty researchers. In fact, many of these instruments were developed by University faculty and staff like the husband and wife team, Thelma Gwinn Thurstone (1897-1993) and L. L. Thurstone (1887-1955), who pioneered mental testing. Initially, educational tests were maintained by the Education Library in Judd Hall. Since many faculty members held joint appointments in both Education and Psychology, a good many psychology tests also began to find their way into the Education Library. By the 1960s tests previously housed in the Psychology Department moved to Judd Hall as well. In 1970, with the opening of the Joseph Regenstein Library, these collections moved from Judd Hall to their present location, the Fourth Floor of Regenstein Library.  Later in the 1970’s when the Industrial Relations Center (IRC) closed, the Library acquired its collection, which consisted of instruments primarily in vocational aptitude and employee relations. These historical collections continue to define the focus of the present day collection. 

At this time, items in the Test Collection are not listed in the Library Catalog. Patrons must consult a separate paper card catalog located in a staff area on the 4th floor of Regenstein Library or they may search the online Test database, which at present holds just over half of the records. To gain access to materials in the collection, appointments are necessary and can be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. To find out more, please visit the “Tests and Measures” guide at:

Patrons should know that materials in the Test Collection are intended for academic research only. The University of Chicago Library observes the guidelines of the American Psychological Association in regard to testing. As a result, the collection is kept locked and no tests may be checked out, copied or administered.