The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.

From Undergraduate Leadership To Sympathetic Teaching


Martha Guernsey Colby
The Michigan Alumnus 309

By LOLA JEFFRIES
 HANAVAN, '12


MARTHA GUERNSEY COLBY, '19, Ph.D.'22, Associate 
Professor of Psychology, is, like all 
her colleagues, deeply concerned
 about the future of liberal educa
tion and the teaching profession. 
 She believes that a teacher must 
have character as well as clever
ness, and an exceptionally broad 
and thorough groundwork before
 specialization. Although she is very
 quiet by nature, her recent vigor
ous writings on fundamental edu
cation problems have brought her
 national recognition. 


A westerner by birth and early 
education, Dr. Colby entered the
 University of Utah as a freshman. 
 There she won the annual literary 
prize by an essay called "Old
 Clothes," and decided to become a 
writer. Shortly afterward, a fugue 
entitled "In Defiance of Richter's
 Manual of Harmony" won a conservatory award, and she decided 
to become a musician. But her 
first week as a sophomore in the
 biological and psychological labo
ratories at Michigan changed the
 course of her career.

As a faculty
 advisor, she retains a first-hand
 sympathy with student problems
 of specialization and "liberal" balance. 
 Dr. Colby's early interests sur
vived as a vocations. In college she
 wrote music for the Junior Girls' 
Play, was Woman's Editor of the
 Michigan Daily, the Michiganen
sian, and the campus literary magazine, Chimes. She was a member 
of Chi Omega, Sigma Alpha Iota, 
 Mortarboard, Stylus, and Sigma 
Xi. As a graduate student, she 
held three University of Michigan
 fellowships, and her dissertation 
was awarded the Solis prize.

In
 1926-27 she studied in Vienna on a
 Social Science Research Fellow
ship, and in 1929 was awarded the 
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fellow
ship for further study abroad. At
 various other periods she has 
travelled extensively with her hus
band, spending fifteen months of
 1936-37 in the Orient and Near 
East.


Professor Colby is the author of
 several scientific contributions, and
 a member of various national and 
local professional organizations. 
 As President of the Women's Re
search Club in 1941, and of the
 Women of the University of Mich
igan Faculty in 1942, she was ac
tive in efforts to coordinate these
 organizations with war work, both
 national and local. She is a mem
ber of the Women's War Commit
tee of the University, and a Red
 Cross instructor for college classes 
in First Aid. 


She is married to Walter Francis
 Colby, Professor of Physics, with
 whom she shares a deep interest
 in science, music, literature, languages, and plain dirt gardening.