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McGraw, Myrtle B. (Myrtle Byram) (1899-) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: McGraw, Myrtle B. (Myrtle Byram) (1899-)

Historical Note:

Myrtle Byram McGraw was born on August 1, 1899 in Birmingham, Alabama. At age 16, while attending secondary school in Boaz, Alabama, she happened across a magazine article about John Dewey, and soon after began a correspondence with him. As a graduate student at Columbia University Teachers College, McGraw worked as Dewey’s typist.  She received her M.A. in 1925 in religious education, and returned to Columbia to study psychology. She was an assistant instructor in child development at Teachers College 1925-1927, and an assistant professor of psychology at Florida State College for Women 1928-1929. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1931 and from 1930 to 1942 served as a research psychologist and associate director of the Normal Child Development study at Babies Hospital, Columbia Medical Center. During her tenure at Teachers College and Columbia Medical Center she stayed in close contact with Dewey and was considered part of the family.

Dr. McGraw is credited with a number of publications including three books.

In 1936 McGraw married scientist-engineer Rudolph F. Mallina in a ceremony officiated by Dewey at his New York City apartment. While raising her daughter, McGraw taught occasionally at New York University and Adelphi University. She accepted a full time position as professor of psychology at Briar Cliff College in 1953, and held that position until 1972. McGraw’s contributions to early childhood development included her influence in the development of water birthing and encouraging swimming lessons for babies to help them build psychomotor skills. Dr. McGraw died on September 8, 1988 at the age of 89.

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