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Ernest M. Ligon Papers

Identifier: MS137

Collection Scope and Content Summary

Correspondence, diaries, record books, manuscripts, publications, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia document the life and career of Ernest Mayfield Ligon from 1919 through 1980. The bulk of the material concerns the CRP project that Ligon dedicated his professional life to developing and publicizing in national journals.

Much of the correspondence is between Ligon and Eli Lilly, grandson of the founder of Eli Lilly and Company, who supported Ligon's projects and research. The papers also include photographs, memorabilia, and scrapbook material from Ligon's time as a TCU undergraduate in the early 1920s.


  • Creation: 1910-1980
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1910-1980 inclusive, 1923-1975


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Mayfield Ligon was born in 1898 in Iowa Park, Texas. His father's work as a builder took him to a number of towns and cities in Texas and Oklahoma. The family lived in Byers, Texas when Ernest enrolled at Texas Christian University. He served a year in the Army Air Corps (United States Army Air Service) during World War I, while earning college credits at a school near the airfield where he was stationed. Ligon earned bachelor's and master's degrees from TCU by 1921. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale. During his graduate studies, Ligon met Lois Wood. They married on June 30, 1925.

Ligon went on to teach psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York for 33 years and also taught at Yale and Connecticut College for a time. He served as a consultant to the Secretary of War during World War II, studying in child psychology labs in Vienna, Geneva, London, and Paris.

While at Union College, Ligon founded the Character Research Project (CRP) in 1935. He would spend 42 years as its director, co-director, and a volunteer consultant. The CRP developed around the principles put forth in Ligon's book The Psychology of Christian Personality, a work that grew out of his master's thesis at TCU under Dr. Erret Wier McDiarmid. The work proposes that using the teachings of Jesus Christ, as set forth in the Beatitudes, as a guideline for character development and philosophy of life will result in mentally healthy individuals. The philosophy was instilled with the ideas of McDiarmid about integrating emotions and aptitudes with Christian religious faith. In addition to McDiarmid, Ligon was also influenced by Dr. Edward McShane Waits, president of TCU.

In 1948, TCU honored Ligon by awarding him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He supported TCU throughout his life and bequeathed his papers and a generous financial donation to the university upon his death in 1984.


11.50 Linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence, diaries, record books, manuscript drafts, photographs, and scrapbooks. The bulk of the papers are dedicated to the Character Research Project founded by Ligon. There is also extensive correspondence between Ligon and Eli Lilly, who supported his research.


Arranged in eight series: I. Correspondence, 1922-1977.

II. Diaries, 1919-1976; III. Record books and notecards; 1946, 1971-1980; IV. Manuscripts, 1925-1976;

V. Publications, 1932-1971; VI. Photographs, 1910-1976; VII. Scrapbooks, 1937-1965; VIII. Memorabilia, 1929-1973.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in 1984 by the estate of Ernest M. Ligon.

Guide to the Ernest M. Ligon Papers
Compiled by Special Collections Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library Repository

TCU Box 298400
2800 S. University Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76129-0001
Fort Worth Texas 76129
(817) 257-4566
(817) 257-7282 (Fax)