John Madison Fletcher's Impact at Iowa from Moeller, 1975

John Madison Fletcher served as a visiting professor at Iowa during the 1924-1925 academic year and the summer of 1924. Here is what Dorothy Mueller in her history of speech-pathology origins at Iowa (Mueller, 1975) says about Fletcher's visit:

For the academic year and summer session. of 1924, John Fletcher of Tulane was brought to Iowa by Seashore as a visiting professor in psychology. Fletcher was one of the few people in the country then studying stuttering scientifically. As a matter of fact, when Seashore and Dr. Orton pooled the techniques and skills of psychology and psychiatry-beginning with the Travis program-the problem of stuttering was being given practically no attention by the academic community at large and such attention as was being given was from more or less self-trained "experts" who, for a fee, promised a "cure."

Travis, who was in Fletcher's seminar, remembers Fletcher as a big, tall man who "stuttered a little bit yet. He was a very fine scholar. He had written a most provocative book, The Problem of Stuttering, along purely psychological lines. It was very early and very sound. I'll wager he was the one who inspired me to pick up stuttering as a really important research problem."

In bringing Fletcher to Iowa Seashore obviously was strengthening his scientific program in speech. He may also have been comparing Fletcher with Travis in an effort to choose the man who would continue training as the first "speech pathologist." Travis and others who were there had this impression, Travis from a conversation in which Seashore seemed to be saying this. At any rate, as things worked out Fletcher went back to Tulane and Travis stayed at Iowa.

In his year at Iowa, Fletcher directed the University's first graduate theses concerned exclusively with stuttering, for the 1924 M.A. degrees of Marion McKenzie Font ("A comparison of free-associations of stutterers with those of normal speakers") and Marion Brehm Hebenstreit ("Effect on motor control of negative instruction in the case of stutterers"). Sara Stinchfield Hawk's thesis of 1919 had mentioned stuttering, but it was with these two theses that the Iowa research program in stuttering began in earnest, to continue without interruption to the present.

Moeller, 1975, p. 20

Moeller, D. (1975). Speech pathology and audiology: Iowa origins of a discipline. Iowa City: University of Iowa.