Winthrop Kellogg: A Biographical Sketch [1]


Winthrop Niles Kellogg was born in 1898 in Mount Vernon, New York.

His college training began as an undergraduate student at Cornell University during the academic year 1916-1917.  But to anyone who knew Kellogg even in his middle years, it would be inconceivable that he could neglect the adventure and challenge of the Great War.  He enlisted and spent 2 years as a First Lieutenant in the Aviation Service of the U.S. Army in World War 1.  As a flyboy in the heroic generation of that breed, he acquired injuries, as was common to those who practiced flying then.  He was awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre for his service.

After the war, as an undergraduate at Indiana University, he met and married Luella Dorothy Agger in 1920.  A decade later, she became his scientific collaborator in a famous project to raise an ape with a child. 

Kellogg graduated from Indiana with a bachelor's degree in1922, having majored in philosophy and psychology, and for a while tried his hand at several jobs, including a brief time as a journalist.  His wife's uncle, Eugene E. Agger, himself a university professor, felt Kellogg's talents and personality were well suited to an academic career and encouraged him to consider such an option.

Accordingly, Kellogg enrolled in psychology at Columbia where he received his M.A. degree in 1927 and his doctorate in 1929. His dissertation, which was directed by Robert S. Woodworth, involved a comparison of psychophysical methods.  He was an active researcher as a graduate student, publishing five articles in 1928-29 in addition to his dissertation, and only one of those was coauthored.  Three more articles appeared in 1930, and another five the following year. This level of productivity was maintained throughout his academic career.

Kellogg began his academic career at Indiana University as an assistant professor in 1929. The following year he was promoted to associate professor, and in 1937, to full professor.  The years at Indiana were devoted largely to research on conditioning and learning, carried out in a special dog conditioning laboratory.  He did research on other topics, sometimes with students, sometimes on his own.  In 1939-40, as the United States prepared for the possibility of war, he carried out studies for the Civil Aeronautics Authority concerned with the learning curve for flying an airplane.  Kellogg reenlisted in the military during World War 2, where he was a major in the Army Air Force.  He served in South America and Trinidad, returning from a tour of duty in 1944 to continue his research and teaching at Indiana University.

No investigation in Kellogg's career brought him more attention than did the study done at the Anthropoid Experiment Station at Orange Park Florida in the early 1930s involving the rearing of his infant son Donald with an infant chimpanzee, Gua.  The study is well documented in the book, The Ape and the Child (1933), co-authored with his wife, Louella.  That part of Kellogg's career, which occurred two decades prior to his coming to FSU, is thoroughly reviewed and discussed from a modern perspective in Benjamin & Bruce (1982).


Kellogg left Indiana University to accept a position at Florida State University.  Apparently for some time he had wanted to move to Florida and sent letters to several universities in the state notifying them of that wish. Florida State University had only recently emerged from its role as a women's college and was eager to begin building a major university.  FSU made Kellogg an offer, and although it was below the salary he had been receiving at Indiana, he accepted it, moving his family to Tallahassee in the summer of 1950.  That move marked the end of the dog conditioning studies and signaled the beginning of a whole new focus of research.  At FSU, Kellogg found himself as the senior person in the psychology department and, in terms of his visibility nationally, he was likely one of the most famous professors on the campus at that time.  

After a single paper in 1952 on conditioning in salt-water fishes, he turned his attention to the study of porpoises, something that would occupy much of the next 13 years of his life.  He established a porpoise lab a few miles south of Tallahassee at Alligator Point in the Gulf of Mexico where he carried out a very active research program with his graduate students on the sonar abilities of porpoises.  This work was summarized in scientific papers and in a book that attracted much attention, Porpoises and Sonar (1961).  Later, at his lab on campus, he began innovative research on echolocation in humans , which he continued at the Stanford Research Institute after he retired from FSU in 1963.  The research Kellogg did in his years at FSU brought him and the nascent FSU Psychology Department great visibility, such as the following news report in the New York Times (Nov. 2nd, 1958).


At FSU, Kellogg worked hard to build an excellent doctoral program in psychology and began that task by completely restructuring the undergraduate and master's degree programs.  More than anyone else he was responsible for the acquisition of the matching funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build the psychology research building at Florida State, the building that now bears his name.  He also aided in the recruitment of new faculty, argued for the needed growth of the department, and in general used his considerable reputation as a scientist and scholar to attract graduate students and enhance the psychology programs.


In 1963, Kellogg officially retired from Florida State, although he would return to the campus on several occasions in temporary faculty positions.  In 1962, however, he began his association with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) at Menlo Park, California, where he established two large research projects.  One was funded by NSF and involved investigations of sonar in sea lions, while the second was funded by the National Institutes of Health and involved echolocation in blind humans.  The grants were for long-term projects, but it is unlikely that Kellogg ever saw his involvement in the projects beyond the first year or two.  He hired two of his doctoral students from Florida State to direct the investigations - Ronald Schusterman for the sea lion studies and Charles Rice for the human echolocation studies.  In February of 1965, Kellogg resigned from SRI.

After he left SRI, Winthrop and Luella Kellogg spent much of their remaining days together traveling to various parts of the world.  Their deaths both came in the summer of 1972:  his on June 22, hers on July 17.