Photo of Maud Amanda Merrill

Maud Amanda Merrill





Training Location(s):

AB, Oberlin College (1911)

AM, Stanford University (1920)

PhD, Stanford University (1923)

Primary Affiliation(s):

Minnesota Bureau of Research (1911-1919)

Stanford University (1920-1978)

Career Focus:

Education; child psychology; clinical psychology; intelligence testing; delinquency.


Maud Amanda Merrill is perhaps best remembered today for her work with Lewis Terman on the revised Stanford-Binet intelligence scales. Born in Owatonna, Minnesota on April 30, 1888, Merrill spent her childhood in an orphanage as the daughter of the institution's director.

In 1911 Merrill completed an undergraduate degree at Oberlin College in Ohio. She spent the next eight years working as Research Assistant to Fred Kuhlmann, the head of the Minnesota Bureau of Research. Assigned to the Minnesota School for Feeble-Minded in Faribault, Minnesota, during these years Merrill published research on the assessment of children's reading ability, as well as female delinquency.

Merrill's work with the feebleminded continued after her 1919 move to California for graduate study. She received a Master's degree in education from Stanford University in 1920 for her study entitled The Relation of Intelligence to Ability in the "Three R’s” in the Case of Retarded Children. Three years later she obtained a doctoral degree in psychology from the same institution. Both degrees were completed under the supervision of psychologist Lewis Terman and the latter resulted in Merrill's 1923 dissertation, On the Relation of Intelligence to Achievement in the Case of Mentally Retarded Children. From 1920 to 1924 Merrill also served as an instructor in psychology at the university.

During her time at Stanford, Merrill worked with Terman on his longitudinal study of gifted individuals, eventually published as Genetic Studies of Genius. She worked briefly on the project in the early 1920s (from 1921-22) while still a student. In 1924, by then an Assistant Professor in Stanford's Department of Psychology, she became involved in the study once more and continued to contribute to the project until her retirement in 1954. Her contributions to the study included training fieldworkers to collect data, as well as a longstanding role as statistical consultant to the project. In 1931 she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

In addition to working on Terman's Genetic Studies of Genius project, Merrill also collaborated with her former supervisor on a revision of his Stanford-Binet intelligence scale first issued in 1916. The revision of the Stanford-Binet, begun in 1926 and eventually published in 1937, included the construction of two parallel test forms; form "L" for Lewis and form "M" for Maud. A third revision of the Stanford-Binet was issued by Merrill in 1960, following the death of Terman four years earlier and her own retirement from Stanford in 1954. An authority on the proper administration of the Stanford-Binet intelligence scales, Merrill trained generations of undergraduate and graduate students at Stanford in the use of the test.

Merrill collaborated with Terman throughout her career, but was also heavily involved in other projects. In 1920 she began a psychological clinic for children and soon also took on regular consultancy work for the San Jose Juvenile Court. Both her work in the clinic and with the juvenile court system gave Merrill and her students the opportunity to engage directly with delinquent children and those experiencing psychological difficulties. This clinical work served as the basis of Merrill's 1947 book, Problems of Child Delinquency.

Through her work with the court system, Merrill met Judge William Frances James, a strong supporter of psychological work with children. The two married in 1933. Occasionally referred to by some as Merrill-James (or Merrill James), by all indications Merrill did not change her name after marriage.

Merrill and her husband lived together on the Stanford University campus throughout their marriage. After James's death in 1966, Merrill continued to reside in her campus home until her death at the age of 90 on January 15th, 1978.

by Jacy L. Young (2013)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works

By Maud Amanda Merrill

Kennedy, J. L., McNemar, Q., Merrill, M. A. (1942). Studies in personality. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Merrill, M. A. (1917). A note on the distribution by grades of defective delinquent women in an institution for the feeble-minded. Journal of Psycho-Asthenics, 22, 175-177.

Merrill, M. A. (1918). The ability of the special class children in the 'Three R's'. Pedagogical Seminary, 25, 88-96.

Merrill, M. A. (1919). A scale for the individual measurement of reading ability. Journal of Educational Psychology, 10, 389-400.

Merrill, M. A. (1920). Rosalind's diary: A study in temperament of a social misfit. Journal of Delinquency, 5, 95-116.

Merrill, M. A. (1921). The relation of intelligence to ability in the "three r's" in the case of retarded children. Pedagogical Seminary, 28, 249-274.

Merrill, M. A. (1924). On the relation of intelligence to achievement in the case of mentally retarded children. Comparative Psychology Monographs, 2, 1-99.

Merrill, M. A. (1925). The relation of mental age to industrial efficiency of a group of mental defectives. Journal of Delinquency, 9, 83-104.

Merrill, M. A. (1926). Mental differences in children referred to a psychological clinic. Journal of Applied Psychology, 10, 470-486.

Merrill, M. A. (1926). Intelligence of policemen. Journal of Personnel Research, 5, 511-515.

Merrill, M. A. (1926). Mental differences among juvenile delinquents. Journal of Delinquency, 10, 312-323.

Merrill, M. A. (1930). The care of the psychopathic or defective delinquent. Journal of Juvenile Research, 14, 165-170.

Merrill, M. A. (1938). The significance of IQ's on the Revised Stanford-Binet Scales. Journal of Educational Psychology, 29, 641-651.

Merrill, M. A. (1947). Problems of child delinquency. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

Merrill, M. A. (1951). Oscillation and progress in clinical psychology. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 15, 281-289.

Terman, L. M., & Merrill, M. A. (1937). Measuring intelligence: A guide to the administration of the new revised Stanford-Binet tests of intelligence. Boston: Houghton.

Terman, L. M., & Merrill, M. A. (1960). Stanford-Binet intelligence scale: Manual for the third revision, form L-M. Oxford, England: Houghton Mifflin.

About Maud Amanda Merrill

Merrill-James, Maud Amanda (1888-1979). (2000). In M. B. Ogilvie, & J. D. Harvey (Eds.), The biographical dictionary of women in science: Pioneering lives from ancient times to the mid-20th century (vol. 2, pp. 886). New York: Routledge.

Richmond, J. (2005). Maud A. Merrill (1888-1978). The Feminist Psychologist, 32(2), 11.

Rogers, K. B. (1999). The lifelong productivity of women researchers in Terman's Genetic Studies of Genius longitudinal study. Gifted Child Quarterly, 43, 150-169.

Sears, R. R. (1979). Obituary: Maud Merrill James (1888-1978). American Psychologist, 34(2), 176-176.