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Aaron T. Beck, born 1921,
Papers, 1953 - 2000

UPT 50 B393

60 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Kaiyi Chen
2009 January 6

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.

This collection includes a fairly large quantity of patient records or patient study files, which are closed permanently. According to the Protocol of the University Archives, all personnel/employment records and other personal files containing confidential data will be closed for seventy –five years after their generation.


The Aaron T. Beck papers were accessioned as a gift to the University Archives in 2001.




The collection is basically arranged alphabetically, except for the section of the audio-visual material, which is attached to the end of the manuscript part.



Aaron T. Beck was born July 18, 1921 in Providence, Rhode Island.  He entered Brown University in 1938 and graduated with B.A. in 1942. He went on to Yale University for his medical education and obtained his M.D. in 1946.

Beck served a rotating internship and a residency in pathology at the Rhode Island Hospital from 1946 to 1948,  and had a residency in neurology and later in psychiatry at the Cushing Veterans Administration Hospital in Framingham, Massachusetts, from 1948 to 1950, and served as a Fellow in psychiatry at the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, from 1950 to 1952.  He was in military service from 1952 to 1954, serving as Assistant Chief of the Department of Neuro-Psychiatry at the Valley Forge Army Hospital, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  He was certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1953.

Beck started his career at the University of Pennsylvania in 1954.  He was an Instructor of the Department of Psychiatry from 1954 to 1957, was appointed as an Associate in 1957 and became Assistant Professor in 1958.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1967 and Professor of Psychiatry in 1971.  

At the University of Pennsylvania, Beck formulated his cognitive model of depression and cognitive therapy of depression in 1962.  In 1965, he founded the Center for Cognitive Therapy and served as its Director until 1994.  The Center is a leading tertiary care facility, conducting therapy, education and clinical training, and research.

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Beck has authored and co-authored over two hundred articles and books.  Among his published books are: Depression: Clinical, Experimental, and Theoretical Aspects (1967); Diagnosis and Management of Depression (1967); Prediction of Suicide (1974); Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders (1976); Cognitive Therapy of Depression (1979); Anxiety Disorders and Phobias (1985); Love is Never Enough (1988); Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders (1990); and Prisoners of hate : the cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence (1999).

Beck’s contribution to the psychotherapy of depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior has been widely acknowledged.  He has been honored by a Foundation Fund Prize for Research in Psychiatry from the American Psychiatric Association, a Distinguished Scientific Award for Applications of Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the Paul Hoch Award from the American Psychopathological Association, and the Louis Dublin Award of the American Association of Suicidology.   He received an honorary Doctor of Medical Science degree from Brown University in 1982, was designated by the University of Pennsylvania as University Professor of Psychiatry in 1983, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1987. 

Beck has been member of many professional and scientific institutions of national and international importance, among them the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychopathological Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Association of Suicidology, the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, the Eastern Psychological Association, the Psychiatric Research Society, and the Society for Psychotherapy Research.

Aaron Beck is married to Phyllis, who was a  Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge.  The couple live near Philadelphia..



This collection includes two major series, which are the records of the Center for the Cognitive Therapy, of which Beck has been the founder and Director, and the material, in the forms of notes, papers and manuscripts, of all research done by Beck and his associates. Other smaller series are: Awards and honors, Clippings, Correspondence, Department of Psychiatry (of the Penn School of Medicine), Foreign Connections, Meeting Files, Patient Records, Patient Studies, Recommendations and Requests. In addition to the above manuscript series, there is a series of tapes and transcripts of Audio and Visual Tapes.

The series of the Center for the Cognitive Therapy documents all important aspects of this Center’s activities embracing therapy, training, and research. Represented in this series are records of various training programs and workshops sponsored by the Center; files of research, grants, and publishing grouped by subject; royalties; Mood Clinic correspondence and therapist report; evaluation material either by supervisees or supervisors; records of internship and post-doctoral fellowship recruitment; grant proposals by individual staff members or associates on various topics; questionnaire for schools on child abuse of a project named PACE (meaning “Preventing Abuse through Community Education”); and copy of outgoing research correspondence dating from 1968 to 1997. This series also includes correspondence and administrative files, among them a correspondence file from 1971 to 2000 grouped either chronologically or alphabetically, correspondence with various psychiatric and psychological institutions, intramural links within the University of Pennsylvania, correspondence with foreign connections (under Foreign correspondence), staff memos, mails drafted for Beck, files of individual associates by name, and files of speaking arrangements.

This series also includes a few separately-listed sub-series, which are Financial; Journal/publishing; Meeting file; Meeting file specifically related to Beck’s daughter, Judith S. Beck, also a cognitive therapy psychiatrist, and Personnel.

The other big series of this collection is named the “Research--notes, papers and manuscripts” series. It includes research files in all forms listed by subject or project titles. Notable subjects include: anxiety, Beck Depression Inventory, the book project of Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence (typescript), Cognitive approaches to depression, stress, suicide, etc., the book project of Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders, the book project of Cognitive therapy of Cocaine Abuse: a Treatment Manual, the book project of Cognitive Therapy of Depression, the book project of Cognitive Therapy of Substance Abuse, Anxiety and Substance Abuse, a study of depression, the book project of Inpatient Cognitive Therapy, by Jesse Wright, et al., an incomplete group of numbered manuscripts done by Beck, the book project of Scientific Foundations of Cognitive Theory and Therapy of Depression, by David A. Clark, et al. Attached to this series is a sub-series which collects short pieces of research writings, mostly notes and outlines in preparation for certain research projects or topics.

All other smaller series named in the first paragraph include records mainly generated by or for Aaron Beck himself, rather than related to the Center for the Cognitive Therapy in general.

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