Jack Alroy Holmes
Class of 1931

© University of California, 1968

Jack Alroy Holmes, Education: Berkeley


Professor Jack Alroy Holmes was born September 23, 1911, in Oakland, California. He died on October 19, 1967, after an illness which required open heart surgery.

Holmes attended public schools in California, graduating from Oakland High School in 1931. His Associate in Arts degree was taken at Modesto Junior College in 1936, and his B.A. degree from the University of California in 1938, with a major in Physiology and minors in Physical Science and English. In these early years he was interested in poetry and wrote a number of poems which won contests and were published. In 1940 he took a General Secondary Teaching Credential from the University of California, and for two years taught Chemistry in Courtland, California, High School. In 1942 he received the M.A. degree in Educational Psychology at the University of California. He then taught Chemistry and Physics in Petaluma High School for a year. After that he returned to the University, where he was engaged for two years in research in physical chemistry in the Manhattan Project at the U.C. Radiation Laboratory. From 1945-46 he was Director of Psychological Research and Testing for the U.S. Army at Benicia Arsenal, and the next year, while pursuing further graduate studies, he was instructor in the Reading and Study Clinic at the University of California. In 1947-48 he served as Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at Oklahoma A. & M. College. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in Educational Psychology at the University of California in 1948, he moved to Western Reserve University as Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Reading Improvement Services of the Personnel Research Institute. He returned to the University of California as Assistant Professor in 1950, became Associate Professor in 1953, and since 1959 was Professor of Education and Research Psychologist in the Institute of Human Development. Jack Holmes worked energetically and persistently over a period of several years as a member of University committees, especially the University Committee on Housing. He devoted a great deal of time and thought to the planning of the laboratories and the selection of equipment for the Division of Educational Psychology and for the Education Department quarters in Tolman Hall. As one concrete result of his work, the Division of Educational Psychology has a large and well-equipped laboratory for experimentation, especially for research on reading.

Dr. Holmes was awarded substantial grants from the U.S. Office of Education and from the Carnegie Corporation for research on reading. Dr. Clark, Director of the Cooperative Research Branch of the U.S. Office of Education, spoke of his work on the substrata-factor theory of reading as, "A most exciting research study representative of the best that is going on in the field of educational research," and requested that a monograph based on the results be prepared for use in the Cooperative Research Program Monograph Series. Dr. Holmes was asked to serve as a consultant to the U.S. Office of Education, and he also served as a member of the State of California Committee to select tests to be used in the public schools in accord with provisions of laws passed in the early 1960's.

Dr. Holmes published a large number of research papers, ranging from brief articles to large monographs and extensive technical reports. While working on the Manhattan Project, he published 10 experimental papers on uranium compounds and was sole author of one patent and co-author of two more. These materials were kept classified by the U.S. Army. In his research Holmes showed great versatility, his studies including such topics as measurement of musical ability, motivational factors affecting school achievement, and the study of specific aphasic disabilities. In recent years his major interests were centered on the causes of reading and spelling difficulties, on cerebral localizations and their functional psychological correlates, and on theories of reading. He was dedicated to his research, and his studies were characterized by creativity, resourcefulness in the analysis of his data, and endless painstaking work which led to special insights. His formal teaching assignments included such courses as general educational psychology and more specialized courses in teaching the slow learner, the exceptional child, the psychology of reading, and experimental education. His teaching was greatly enriched by his research activities, and his students have caught his enthusiasm.

A member of the American Psychological Association since 1949, he was a Fellow of Division 15 and also a member of Divisions 8, 10, and 22. He was a member of the National Society for the Study of Education and the American Educational Research Association and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was President of the California Educational Research Association, 1958-59. In recent years he has been one of the foremost leaders in the International Reading Association. His services have been sought for teaching appointments, and for conferences and seminars, in Europe and in many states in the U.S.A.

He presented research papers before such groups as the American Association of School Administrators, the International Reading Association, the National Reading Association, the California Educational Research Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Psychological Association. His reports covered such topics as "The Usefulness of Phonics in the Teaching of Reading," "Educational Provisions for the Gifted Child," "The Factors Underlying Reading Disabilities," and "Personality Characteristics of the Disabled Reader." Jack Holmes will be missed by his many friends and students, who have long enjoyed his warmth and generosity, his kindliness and understanding. He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Alroy Holmes of Modesto; by a sister, Mrs. Dorothy MacMeekin of San Francisco; by his wife, Mrs. Florence Holmes of Orinda; and by his three sons, Jack, Keith, and Daniel.

Harold D. Carter T. Bently Edwards Luther C. Gilbert