John Madison Fletcher


John Madison Fletcher was an early pioneer in the field of speech-pathology. He was a psychologist, who stuttered, and whose major research interest was to scientifically study the nature of stuttering. He argued that stuttering therapies should be carried out by psychologists and school personnel and not be left to physicians who had too little time and knowledge to do a good job.

Fletcher's scientific approach to stuttering influenced many other scholars of his time. Of special note is his influence on Lee Edward Travis, who was one of the founders of ASHA and a proponent of the brain laterality theory of stuttering.

John Fletcher was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on July 27, 1873. In 1896 he graduated from Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tennessee and went on to obtain a bachelors degree at Vanderbilt University in 1901, a masters at the University of Colorado in 1904, and a Ph.D. in psychology 1912, from Clark University. His thesis was entitled: "An experimental study of stuttering."

Between his BA and MA, Fletcher taught at Webb School (1901-1902), and at Vanderbilt training School in Elkton Kentucky.

In 1905-1906, John Fletcher served as an assistant in education at the University of Colorado and an assistant in philosophy at Stanford University in 1909-1910. He was a fellow at Clark University from 1910 to 1911. In 1912 he became an assistant professor in experimental and clinical psychology at Tulane University. In 1913 he served as head of the department of Psychology at Tulane, and in 1919-1920 acting dean of the graduate department there. From 1920 to 1924 he was director of a laboratory of psychology and education. He was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa in 1924-1925 where he advised the first master's theses in this country having to do with stuttering (Moeller, 1975, p. 20) and where he taught a course entitled "The correction of speech disorders." From 1926 to 1928 he was a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University and lecturer in Vanderbilt Medical School.

On Christmas day in 1907, John Fletcher married Annie Cooper. They had one child, a daughter, Olive May Fletcher.

Fletcher died in New Orleans on December 12, 1944, after a long and influential career establishing a new professional discipline.

Chronological Bibliography of Fletcher's Writings

Fletcher, J. M. (1911). Speech defects in children. Proceedings of the National Association for the Study and Education of Exceptional Children, 148-159.

Fletcher, J. M. (1912). Speech defects in children. American Journal of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children, 55, 176-186.

Fletcher, J. M. (1912). Speech defects in children. NY: W. Wood & Co.

Fletcher, J. M. (1913). An experimental study of stuttering. Unpublished Ph.D., Clark University, Worcester, MA.

Fletcher, J. M. (1914). An experimental study of stuttering. American Journal of Psychology, 25, 201-255.

Fletcher, J. M. (1916). The etiology of stuttering. Journal of the American Medical Association, 64, 1079-1081.

Fletcher, J. M. (1916). Etiology of stuttering. Journal of the American Medical Association, 66.

Fletcher, J. M., Cowan, E. A. and Arlitt. A. H. (1916). Experiments on the behavior of chicks hatched from alcoholized eggs. Journal of Animal Behavior, 6, 103-137.

Fletcher, J. M. (1917). The mental imagery of stutterers: An examination of certain current theories. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 12, 34-43 (or 3-12).

Fletcher, J. M. (1928). The problem of stuttering: A diagnosis and a plan of treatment. NY: Longmans, Green and Co.

Fletcher, J. M. (1931). Dunlap's theory of the treatment of stuttering. Proceedings of the American Speech Correction Association, 1, 64-69.

Fletcher, J. M. (1934). Psychology in education with emphasis on creative thinking. NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co. (argues for inclusion over pull out of children who stutter, p. 289-290)

Fletcher, J. M. (1943). Predisposing cause of stuttering. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 29, 480-483.

Fletcher, J. M. & Johnson, H. (1944). Human nature and world peace. Virginia Quarterly Review.

Reviews of John Fletcher's Work

Kaucher, D. (1930). Review of Fletcher, J. M., The problem of stuttering. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 16, 129-132.

Moeller, D. (1976). Speech pathology and audiology: Iowa origins of a discipline. Iowa City, Iowa: The University of Iowa. (Moeller describes Fletcher's impact on the University of Iowa's fledgling department of speech at Iowa.)

Solomon, D. (1916). Meyer Solomon's review of an article that grew out of Fletcher's doctoral thesis: An experimental study of stuttering. Fletcher's original article appeared in the American Journal of Psychology, 1914, 25, 201-255.