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Zella Luria Papers

Call Number: MS249

Content Description

This collection contains the papers of Tufts University psychology professor Zella Luria, mainly pertaining to her academic interests in sex, gender, and women’s studies. The collection includes correspondence, teaching and research materials such as lectures, notes, syllabi, and exams, and a series of records documenting a study Luria conducted in the 1960s and 1970s on Jackson College students’ attitudes toward work over time. Jackson College was founded as a coordinate college for women students at Tufts in 1910.

Luria’s correspondence is mostly professional in nature and details her active involvement in professional associations such as the New England Psychological Association, the Eastern Psychological Association, and others; her work as a professor and member of numerous committees at Tufts; her wide-ranging research in the areas of sex, gender, genetics, and multiple personality disorder; and her extensive network of friends and colleagues. Her strong opinions and willingness to take a stand for what she believed was right are well-documented in her correspondence, as are her warm relationships with former students, coworkers, and professional peers.

Teaching and research materials include copious notes, annotated copies of journal articles, reports, and newsclippings, drafts of writings and reprints of Luria’s published work, lecture notes and transparencies, syllabi, course outlines, and exams. These materials document the psychology and women’s studies courses Luria taught at Tufts and as a visiting professor at other institutions, as well as her own substantial research and list of publications.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Luria conducted a study with Jackson College students investigating their attitudes toward work, marriage, motherhood, and education. The records of this study provide a fascinating picture of evolving viewpoints on women and their place in the world. Records include questionnaires on attitudes toward work, demographic questionnaires, graduate questionnaires, California Psychological Inventory personality tests, computer encoding forms and programming instructions, reports, form letters and permission slips, and related reference materials.


  • 1933 -- 2010
  • Majority of material found within circa 1960s -- 1990s

Physical Location

These materials are stored in 002 Stacks, Range 3, Bay 1, Shelves 1-6.


Records containing information related to student education and staff and faculty employment are closed for 75 years from the date of creation. This collection may require review before it is available for use. Please contact DCA for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have been transferred to Tufts University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Estate of Zella Luria, 2018.


This collection is arranged in three series: Correspondence; Teaching and research files; and Jackson College students' attitudes toward work survey records.


11.5 Linear Feet (9 record cartons, 1 index card box, and 1 legal-size half document case)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the papers of Tufts University psychology professor Zella Luria and includes correspondence, teaching and research materials, and records of a study Luria conducted in the 1960s and 1970s on Jackson College students’ attitudes toward work over time. Subjects include sex, gender, and psychology. Materials date from 1933-2010, with the bulk of materials dating from 1960-1999.

Biographical / Historical

Zella Hurwitz Luria (1924-2018) was a psychology professor at Tufts from 1959-2002, known for her work on the social construction of gender roles. She received the Jackson College Teaching Award in 1969, and the Seymour Simches Award on Teaching and Advising in 1995. She was a charter member of the Women’s Studies program.

Zella Luria was born on February 18, 1924 in New York City to Dora (née Garbarsky), a factory seamstress, and Hyman Hurwitz, a house painter. She graduated from Brooklyn College in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and received her PhD in experimental psychology and a minor in genetics in 1951 from Indiana University, where she also met microbiologist Salvatore Luria, whom she married in 1945. As a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor at the University of Illinois, she was a clinician on the multiple personality case that became well-known as the inspiration for the film The Three Faces of Eve. After several years in teaching assistant and lecturer positions, she accepted a position as an assistant professor at Tufts in the Psychology Department in 1959.

At Tufts, she was known for her feminism, strong opposition to the Vietnam War, and vocal condemnation of social inequality. In 1969, she joined other faculty in voting to ban ROTC from campus. She was a popular teacher who won the Jackson College Teaching Award in 1969 and the Seymour Simches Award on Teaching and Advising in 1995. She worked to increase the number of women professors at Tufts and argued for better maternity leave and day care accommodations for faculty with children. A charter member of the Women’s Studies program, she also supported the Women’s Center and served as chapter president of the American Association of University Professors for several years.

Luria served as president of the New England Psychological Association from 1971-1972. She was a consultant to the Massachusetts chapter of Planned Parenthood, and worked with Physicians for Human Rights and the Center for Constitutional Rights to provide clinical assessments of asylum seekers. Co-author of the influential textbook Human Sexuality (1979, 2nd ed. 1987) and associate editor of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, she also published over forty peer-reviewed journal articles. She retired from Tufts at age 78.

She had one child, Daniel, with her husband Salvatore Luria. After her retirement, she continued to spend summers in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, at the summer home she and her husband built in 1964. She died on June 10, 2018, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Custodial History

Materials including research and teaching files and correspondence were boxed and brought to the archives by Dan Santamaria, Director of Digital Collections and Archives, at Luria’s home in Cambridge in July 2018. Attitudes to work among Jackson College students study records were boxed by the Psychology Department on Tufts Medford campus and transferred to the archives by Facilities Management in July 2018.

Processing Information

This collection was preliminarily processed by Adrienne Pruitt, Collections Management Archivist, in September 2018. All loose materials were foldered and damaged housing was replaced. In series 3, all folders were labeled and dated, and folders that contained confidential information were marked "closed." Series 1 and 2 have not been labeled, dated, or reviewed at the folder level.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States