Guide to the Irving Lee (1909-1955) Papers

Collection Title: Irving Lee (1909-1955) Papers
Dates: 1942-1968
Identification: 20/57
Creator: Lee, Irving J., 1909-1955
Extent: 1 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Irving Lee Papers fill one box and span the period 1940-1945. The papers are organized into five categories: biographical materials, correspondence, teaching materials, speeches, and publications.
Acquisition Information: The Irving Lee Papers were donated to the University Archives as part of the Irving and Laura Lee Papers by Laura Lee in August 1979 as Accession No. 79-159.
Processing Information: Margaret Faverty and Mary Grybeck, July 1997.
Separated Materials: A small amount of duplicated material was discarded. Three video tapes of Irving and Laura Lee at the Purdue Colloquium and nine commercially produced films by Irving Lee about Speech and Communication were separated and filed with the University Archives Video Tape and Film Collection.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Related Materials: Laura Lee (1914-1987) Papers, 1930-1987, Series 20/58
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Irving J. Lee was born on October 27, 1909 in New York City. He graduated from New York University in 1931 with a B.S. in English and attended the Bread Loaf School of English in

the summer of 1932 in Middlebury, England. After working as an instructor in Social Sciences at Boonton, High School in Boonton, New Jersey from 1931-1934, he then earned an M.A. in Public Speaking in 1935 and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and Rhetoric in 1938, both from Northwestern University.

Lee was Instructor in Speech at Northwestern University, 1936-1942; Assistant Professor

of Speech, 1942-1947; Associate Professor of Speech, 1947-1949; and Professor of Public

Speaking, 1949-1955. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa in 1946 and at the University of Wyoming in 1954.

In July of 1942, Lee entered the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant in the air corps. Much of his time was spent at the School of Applied Tactics assisting in the development of training aides.

Lee was particularly interested in the studies of Korzybski, whose theories were the foundation of one of his most popular courses at Northwestern, Language and Thought. He wrote a number of books, including How to Talk With People: A Program for Preventing Troubles That Come When People Talk Together (1952) and a textbook, Language Habits in Human Affairs (1941).

Beginning in 1937, Lee served as a consultant for the National Safety Council and the Northwestern University Traffic Institute. Until 1955, he continued to be a consultant and lecturer on problems of training for safety and industrial organizations. He also was a frequent

lecturer on communication and speech at colleges and universities around the country.

Lee was married to Laura Louise Smith on June 23, 1940. Their only son, David Alfred Lee, was born on May 11, 1949.

After an illness of several weeks, Lee died on May 23, 1955.

Scope and Content

The Irving Lee Papers fill one box and span the period 1940-1945. The papers are organized into five categories: biographical materials, correspondence, teaching materials, speeches, and publications.

The Biographical materials, spanning the years 1942-1975, include a resume, faculty biographical records, reminiscences of Lee’s life, clippings, news releases, and obituaries. Lee’s Teaching files, spanning the years 1940-1954, are relatively extensive. There are separate files for each of the five classes he taught at Northwestern University: Language and Thought, Cases and Problems in Communication, Persuasion, Studies in General Semantics, and Materials and Backgrounds for General Semantics. In addition, there are files of his General Semantics course at Iowa University and Problems in Communication course at the University of Wyoming. The files are arranged by institution and then by course number.

The Research file consists mainly of undated handwritten notes for various lectures, publications, and handouts.

The Speech files contain mostly undated handwritten speech notes, an address presented at the 13th Annual Conference of Elementary School Principals, and stories presented in U.S. Air

Force Lectures.

The Publications file, spanning the years 1951-1955, mainly consists of a list of Lee’s published works, short written works, and order forms for his films.


Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)--Faculty

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). School of Speech

Personal Name

Lee, Irving J., 1909-1955


Interpersonal communication

Container List / Contents

  • Biographical Material
    • Personal Data, 1949-1968Box 1, Folder 1
    • Clippings, 1942-1975Box 1, Folder 2
    • News Releases, 1952-1955Box 1, Folder 3
    • Obituaries, 1955Box 1, Folder 4
  • Teaching Files
    • Northwestern University: Speech A3: Language and Thought, 1946-1954Box 1, Folder 5
    • Northwestern University: Speech B3: Cases and Problems in Communication, n.d.Box 1, Folder 6
    • Northwestern University: Public Speaking C23: Persuasion, 1952Box 1, Folder 7
    • Northwestern University: Public Speaking C28: Studies in General Semantics, 1946-1954Box 1, Folder 8
    • Northwestern University: Public Speaking D28: Materials and Backgrounds for General Semantics, n.d.Box 1, Folder 9
    • University of Iowa: General Semantics, 1946Box 1, Folder 10
    • University of Wyoming: S650 Problems in Communication, 1954Box 1, Folder 11
    • Teaching materials- Miscellaneous, n.d.Box 1, Folder 12
  • Research Notes
    • Research Notes, n.d.Box 1, Folder 13
  • Speeches
    • Speech Notes, n.d.Box 1, Folder 14
    • Speeches/Addresses, n.d.Box 1, Folder 15
    • U.S. Air Force Lectures, ca.1950Box 1, Folder 16
  • Publication Files
    • Publications, 1951-1955Box 1, Folder 17