Edward Wheeler Scripture


Edward Wheeler Scripture was a well known psychologist, physician and speech scientist who wrote several books and articles on different aspects of speech science (experimental phonetics) and pathology (stuttering and voice). He also worked as a speech clinician in different clinics in the US and Europe, some of which he founded himself.

Edward Wheeler Scripture was born in Mason, New Hampshire on May 21, 1864. He grew up in New York City and completed his undergraduate education at the College of the City of New York, graduating in 1884.

Scripture and his wife, May Kirk Scripture (1864-1945), studied with H. Gutzmann Jr. in Germany, a "speech doctor" who was among the early founders of the profession. They had three children.

In 1891 Scripture received a Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig. His dissertation advisor was Wilhelm Wundt, the psychologist credited with beginning the field of experimental psychology. Scripture's project was on the association of ideas. He also received a MD degree from the University of Munich in 1906.

Scripture and his family returned to the US in 1891, following their studies in Germany and was shortly thereafter hired as a faculty member by Granville Stanley Hall at Clark University. He remained at Clark one year and then went to Yale University. At Yale, Edward and May Scripture conducted research in experimental phonetics. Scripture started a working paper series of his research. Also in 1892 Edward co-founded the American Psychological Association (with G. Stanley Hall).

Scripture was fired from Yale in 1903, in a dispute with the chair of the department, George Trumbull Ladd (see Seashore's description of the difficulties between these men in Murchison's Biography-History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 3, 1930). The disagreements originated from the philosophical differences between Ladd, who subscribed to what Scripture called "armchair psychology" and Scripture who led the "new science" movement in which experiments were the only definition of the science. Ladd also was let go (given early retirement) by Yale's president because of the conflict with Scripture.

After the debacle at Yale, Scripture and his wife returned to Germany for further study. While there, he was psychoanalyzed by a Vienna-trained psychoanalyst.

In 1906, Scripture returned to America, and in 1915 he took an academic position at Columbia University. There he and May Kirk Scripture started a neurology laboratory and speech clinic associated with the Vanderbilt Clinic at the Columbia Medical Center. He combined psychoanalytic theory with exercise approaches to the correction of speech problems. He saw stammering (stuttering), for example, to be of emotional origin, in combination with bad speech habits, including a monotonic voice. In order to correct the voice problem, he developed a method called "the octave twist" that required the client to alter the pitch of the voice an octave when articulating the stressed words.

Scripture and his wife separated shortly after they developed their speech clinic at Columbia, but they continued to work together. In 1919 Edward Scripture again left America and began a speech clinic at West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases, in London, UK. There he hired an assistant, Winnifred Kingdon-Ward. She did not agree with Scripture's approaches. In particular she saw his "octave twist" as an ineffective gimmick. Kingdon-Ward eventually quit her job at Scripture's clinic, only to return again as director, following Scripture's departure in 1926. (See Margaret Eldridge's 1968 book on A history of the treatment of speech disorders for more on Winnifred Kingdon-Ward's pioneering career in London.)

Scripture left London for Vienna and in 1929 he accepted a chair in experimental phonetics at the University of Vienna. There he started another laboratory to carry out his research in what he then called Linguistic Phonetics.

In 1933 Scripture returned to London, where he lectured and had a private practice. He died on July 31, 1945 in Henlaeze, a small town outside of Bristol, England.

Scripture describes his scholarly life as evolving through four stages

  1. Followed Descartes
  2. Fechner, Wundt-experimental psychology
  3. Freudian period
  4. Relativity theory

Scripture's Instrumentation and Tests in Speech Science

Lantern Recorder: Scripture's description-"A revolving cylinder covered with paper which is coated with soot (kymograph). To get records from the mouth the person speaks into a mouthpiece from which a rubber tube leads to a recording capsule. This latter is a small metal box with a top of thinnest sheet rubber. The vibrations of the voice pass down the tube and set the rubber membrane in motion. By a light straw lever the movements are recorded in the soot on the drum. In a similar manner records are obtained from the larynx, the lips and the nose." (Scripture, 1908, Researches of the voice, p. 161).

Phonograph and gramophone for obtaining visible graphic recordings: Scripture's description-"The gramophone disc is made to turn very slowly, once in six to ten hours. A steel point in a very long, light lever rests in the speech groove just as the steel point of the reproducer does; the vibrations in the groove make the lever move back and forth. A fine point at the end of the lever records the vibrations, magnified 430 times, on a long band of smoked paper" Scripture, 1908, Researches of the voice, p. 165).

Marey tambour (tambour = drum). (Named for M. Marey, a Parisian). This device consists of an elastic membrane, a stylus, and a recording medium such as smoked paper on a continuously revolving drum (a kymograph). It converts changes in air pressure into movements of a stylus that scribes a kymograph. By using a rubber mask placed before the mouth, or a nasal olive in the nose, or a rubber bulb inserted into the mouth, changes in air flow and tongue pressure could be registered. Through means such as this, vocal fold vibrations could also be detected as fine fluctuations in an air-flow curve (from Hardcastle, 1981, p. 51-52).

Mouth molds. A strip of softened vulcanized rubber fastened to the front incisors changed depending upon the sound produced by the tongue. A plaster model of the palate and teeth was then cut in half to show a sagittal section (Hardcastle, 1981, p. 56).

Oakley Coles technique (see Kingsley, 1879). A thin artificial palate normally made of vulcanite or similar material gave an outline of tongue-palate contact. Researchers, such as Scripture and Russell made palatograms of the production of different consonant sounds, using this method (Hardcastle, 1981, p. 57-58).

Books, Chapters and Pamphlets Written by Scripture in Chronological Order

Scripture, E. W. (1895). Thinking, feeling, doing. Meadville, PA: Chautauqua Press.

Scripture, E. W. (1897). The new psychology. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. (A very controversial book that was reviewed in the literature by many different psychologists. The book argued against old style psychology, what Scripture called "armchair psychology" in favor of the new, experimental psychology.)

Scripture, E. W. (1902). The elements of experimental phonetics. NY: Scribner and Sons.

Scripture, E. W. (1902). How the voice looks. NY: Century Co. 4pp.

Scripture, E. W. (1906). Researches in experimental phonetics; the study of speech curves. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington. (A book about the methods for studying speech curves. Includes analysis of speech waves. Also considers various vowel theories.)

Scripture, E. W. (1909). Speech defects and voice culture. St. Louis, (8pp.)

Scripture, E. W. (1912) Stuttering and lisping. NY: The Macmillan Co. (RC 424 S4 1923, HSL). (Lisping was the term used then to describe articulation disorders.)

Scripture, E. W. & Jackson, E. (1919). Manual of the correction of speech disorders. Philadelphia, PA: Davis.

Scripture, E. W. (1923). Stuttering, lisping and correction of the speech of the deaf. NY: Macmillan.

Scripture, E. W. (1923). Study of English speech by new methods of phonetic investigation. London: Oxford University Press.


Articles and Working Papers:

Scripture, E. W. (1892). Education as a science. Pedagogical Seminary, 2, 1, 113.

Scripture, E. W. (1892). An instrument for mapping hot and cold spots on the skin. Science, 19, 258.

Scripture, E. W. and Moore, John M.. (1892-1893). A new reaction-key and the time of voluntary movement. Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory 1, 88-91.

Scripture, E. W. (1893-1896). Some new psychological apparatus. Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory 1, 1893, 97-100; 1895, 3, 98-109; 1896, 4, 76-88.

Scripture, E. W., Smith, Theodate L. and Brown, Emily M. (1893-1894). On the education of muscular control and power. Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory 2, 114-119.

Scripture, E. W. (1893-1894). Tests of mental ability as exhibited in fencing. Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory, 2, 122-124.

Scripture, E. W. (1894). Aims and status of child-study. Educational Review, 8, 236-239.

Titchener, Edward B. and Scripture, E. W. (1894). Some Apparatus for Cutaneous Stimulation. American Journal of Psychology, 6, 424-426.

Scripture, E. W. (1895). Scientific child study. Transactions of the Illinois Society for Child Study, 1, 2, 32-37.

Scripture, E. W. (1895). Simple but accurate tests for child study. Transactions of the Illinois Society for Child Study, 1, 2, 57-60.

Scripture, E. W. (1896). Psychological literature: Thinking, feeling, doing. Psychological Review, 3, 196-197.

Scripture, E. W. (1896). My pedagogical creed. The School Journal, 8, 21, 621-623.

Scripture, E. W. (1899). Researches in experimental phonetics. Observations on rhythmic action. Studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory, VII. New Haven CT: Yale University.

Scripture, Edward W. (1902). Studies of Melody in English Speech. Philosophische Studien, 19: 599-615

Scripture, E. W. (1902). How the voice looks. Century Magazine, 64, 148-154.

Scripture, E. W. (1903). A new machine for tracing speech curves. American Journal of Science, 15, 447-449.

Scripture, E. W. (1904). The mechanics of the human voice. Yearbook of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Washington: The Institution, 343-349.

Scripture, E. W. (1905) Report on the construction of a vowel organ. In Smithsonian Institution miscellaneous collections. Washington, D. C. 47, 360-365.

Scripture, E. W. (1907). The treatment of stuttering. Medical Record, 71, 771-772.

Scripture, E. W. (1907). Graphics of the voice. Independent, 63, 969-976. also in Current literature, 1908, 44, 97-101.

Scripture, E. W. (1907). Researches in experimental phonetics; The study of speech curves. Science, 26, 170-171.

Scripture, E. W. (1908). Experiments on subconscious ideas. Journal of the American Medical Association, 51, 521-523.

Scripture, E. W. (1908). Treatment of hyperphonia. Medical Record, 73, 480-481.

Scripture, E. W. (1908). Treatment of negligent speech by the general practitioner. Medical Record, 73, 480.

Scripture, E. W. (1908). Treatment of hyperphonia (stuttering and stammering) by the general practitioner. Medical Record, 73, 480-481.

Scripture, E. W. (1908). Researches of the voice. Laryngoscope, 18, 161-168.

Scripture, E. W. (1909). Penmanship stuttering. Journal of the American Medical Association, 52, 1480-1481.

Scripture, E. W. (1909). Tics and their treatment. Archives of Pediatrics, 26, 10-13.

Scripture, E. W. (1911). Psychoanalysis and the correction of character. Medical Record, 80, 859-862.

Scripture, E. W. (1911). The cause and treatment of defective mutation of the voice. Journal of Amercan Medical Association, 56, 490.

Scripture, E. W. (1911). Treatment of stuttering, Journal of American Medical Association, 56, 1168-1171.

Scripture, E. W. (1911). The sounds of ch and j. Popular Science, 79, 35-354.

Scripture, E. W. (1912) The voices of the deaf. Volta Review, 15, 141-145.

Scripture, E. W. (1913). The care of speech defectives. Medical Record, 83, 339.

Scripture, E. W. (1913). The voice of the deaf. Surd and sonant; or unvoiced and voiced sounds. Volta Review, 15, 314-316.

Scripture, E. W. (1913). The voices of the deaf: nasality. Volta Review, 15, 269-275.

Scripture, E. W. (1913). The voices of the deaf. The stroblion control of pitch by means of sight. Volta Review, 15, 77-80.

Scripture, E. W. (1913). Voices of the deaf: Graphical records of speech. Scientific American Suppplement, 76, 60-61.

Scripture, E. W. (1913). Speech without a larynx, Journal of the American Medical Association, 60, 1601.

Scripture, E. W. (1916). Records of speech in disseminated sclerosis. Brain, 39, 455-477. (Report of records made using the phonautograph method.)

Scripture, E. W. (1916). Records of speech in general paralysis. Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 10, 20-28.

Scripture, E. W. (1917). Speech in disease. Volta Review, 19, 314-315.

Scripture, E. W. (1917). The nature of stuttering. Volta Review, 19, 297-298.

Scripture, E. W. (1919). The pathology of speech. Lancet, 94, 943.

Scripture, E. W. (1920). Ataxia, aphasia, and apraxia in speech. Journal of Neurology and Psychopathology, 1, 124-130.

Scripture, E. W. (1920). Tracings from speech records. Volta Review, 22, 480-485. (Examples of vowel and consonant sounds.)

Scripture, E. W. (1920). Action of the glottis. Volta Review, 22, 710-713.

Scripture, E. W. (1920). The organ of the voice. Volta Review, 22, 571-575.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The analysis of vowel curves. Volta Review, 23, 99-102.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The laboratory of experimental phonetics at Hamburg. Volta Review, 23, 238-240.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). Nature of vowel sounds. Nature, 106, 632, & 664-666.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The nature of vowel sounds: The laryngeal puff which distinguishes the musical from the unmusical quality of voice. Scientific American Monthly, 3, 361-364.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The physical nature of a vowel. Volta Review, 23, 149-150.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The physics of speech. Volta Review, 23, 366-368.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The vowel siren. Volta Review, 23, 75-76.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The mechanism of breathing. Volta Review, 23, 403-406.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). Observation of the glottis. Volta Review, 22, 640-642. Addendum 23: 77.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). Differential diagnosis of nervous diseases by speech inscription. Vox, 31, 16-23.

Scripture, E. W. (1921). The epileptic voice. Vox, 31, 70-78.

Scripture, E. W. (1923). The treatment of stuttering. Lancet, 204, 749-750.

Scripture, E. W. (1923). Correcting the speech of the deaf. Teacher of the Deaf. 21, 38.

Scripture, E. W. (1923). The study of English Speech by new methods of phonetic investigation. British Academy Proceedings. London: British Academy, 10, 271-299. (A description of speech instrumentation for doing phonetic analysis).

Scripture, E. W. (1924). Three biological principles observed in speech inscriptions. Nature, 113, 383. (Abnormalities in speech transcriptions for cases of paralysis.)

Scripture, E. W. An observation of the terminal verb in infant speech. Science, 23, 62.

Scripture, E. W. (1930) Studies in speech neurology. Journal of Neurology and Psychopathology, 11, 156-162.

Scripture, E. W. (1930). Analyses of verse from Herrick, Scott and Hood. Archives Neerlandaises de Phonetique Experimentale, 5, 64-76.

Scripture, E. W. (1931) English speech molecules and analogues in Greek metrics. Archives Neerlandaises de Phonetique Experimentale, 6, 46-60.

Scripture, E. W. (1932). The nature of vowels. Archives Neerlandaises de Phonetique Experimentale and Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1936, 22, 359-366.

Scripture, E. W. (1933). Analysis and interpretation of vowel tracks. Journal of Acoustical Society of America, 5, 148-152.

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Phonemes. Nature, 136, 261-262.

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Experimental phonetics and ancient Greek verse. Nature, 136, 340-341.

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Failure of Fourier analysis applied to vowel vibrations, Nature, 136, 223.

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Film tracks of English vowels. Journal of Acoustical Society of America, 6, 169-172.

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Overlapping of speech sounds. Nature, 136, 759.

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Puff and profile theory of the vowels. Nature, 136, 435-436. (Confirmation of the Willis-Hermann theory of vowels).

Scripture, E. W. (1935). Registration of speech sounds. Journal of Acoustical Society of America, 7, 139-141.

Scripture, E. W. (1936). The nature of speech. In Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (pp. 209-219). D. Jones & D. Fry (Eds.) London: Cambridge University Press.

Scripture, E. W. (1936). E. W. Scripture. In C. Murchison (Ed.) A history of psychology in autobiography, Volume 3,pp. 321-261. Worchester, MA: Clark University Press.

Scripture, E. W. (1937). Systems of speech. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 23, 32-34. (Traces the series of physical, physiological and psychological events during an act of speech.)

Scripture, E. W. (1938). Vowel vibrations and vowel production, Nature, 142, 619.

Writings about Scripture and the Instruments he used (Chronologically arranged)

Kingsley, N. W. (1879). Surgery or mechanism in the treatment of congenital cleft palate, New York Medical Journal, 29, 484-492.

Seashore, C. (1894) Notes on setting up the laboratory at Yale, Psychological Review, 67-69. (Seashore describes Scripture's contributions to this laboratory.)

"Edward Wheeler Scripture" National Cyclopedia of American Biography. NY: James T. White & Co. (1909).

Speech and disease. (1917) Literary Digest, 44, 23. (A report on work by Professor E. W. Scripture suggesting that certain diseases reveal their presence through speech pecularities.)

Boring, (1965). Edward wheeler Scripture: 1864-1945. American Journal of Psychology, 78, 314-317.

Berry, Mildred F. (1965). Historical vignettes of leadership in speech and hearing: I Speech pathology, ASHA, 7, 8-9

Sokal, M. (1980). The psychological career of Edward Wheeler Scripture. In J. Brozek & J. Ludwig (Eds). Historiography of modern psychology: Aims, resources, and approaches. (pp. 255-278). NY: C. J. Hogrefe. (Sokol talks about Scripture's proselytizing about "the New Science" and alienating himself from mainstream psychology.)

Black, J. W. (1980). Edward Wheeler Scripture, Phonetician. In R. W. Rieber (Ed.) Studies in applied psycholinguistics, [Volume 1]. (pp. 225-238) New York/London: Plenum Press.

Hardcastle, W. J. (1981). Experi mental studies in lingual coarticulation. In R. E. Asher & Eugenie J. A. Henderson (Eds.) Towards a history of phonetics (50-66). Edinburgh: The University Press.

Corston-Oliver, Monica (1999). Edward Wheeler Scripture. In J. J. Ohala, A.J. Bronstein, M. Grazia Busa, J.A. Lewis, and W.F. Weigel, (Eds.) A Guide to the history of the phonetic sciences in the United States. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.