College Archives

SG12 Selma Sapir Papers (1962-1997)

Creator: Sapir, Selma G.
Title: Selma Sapir Papers
RG: RG 10 SG 12
Dates: 1962  [1972-1985] 1997
Quantity: 18 boxes (11 cubic feet)
Language of Material: English

Administrative History

The collection was donated to the Bank Street College Archives by Selma Sapir in 2007. It was processed by Nicole Frisone and Lindsey Wyckoff in 2012. This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department.

Biographical Note

Selma Sapir received a B.S. in education from New York University (1935), an M.A. in psychology from Sarah Lawrence College (1956), and a doctorate in applied clinical psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University (1962).  Sapir’s background in psychology and early childhood education facilitated her work with learning disabled children and their families, which led to the founding of the Learning Disability Laboratory, or Learning Lab, at Bank Street College.

The Learning Lab was a “child service demonstration center and interdisciplinary training project” that provided Bank Street College graduate students with hands on, practical experience working with learning disabled children from New York City’s public schools. In addition to graduate students, the center conducted workshops for pediatricians, teachers, psychiatrists, psychologists, speech and language therapists, disability therapists, and other individuals involved in early childhood development.  Once a week, students from area schools would come to Bank Street for one to two hours for individual attention and education, subsequently both the graduate student and the child were evaluated through workshops and group meetings by watching videotapes of individual sessions.

Dr. Sapir’s achievements include multiple publications and the development of four tests: Sapir Dimension of Learning, Sapir Learning Lab Language Scale, Sapir Self-Concept Scale, and the Sapir Developmental Scale. Sapir worked as a delegate for the International Council of Psychiatrists to the United Nations, prompting her research into the relationship between the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations.   

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the following series:
A - Publications
B - Career
C - Correspondence
D - Learning Lab (contains restricted material)
E - Audiovisual Material


Select a series below for further information.

  • SERIES A - Publications

    Contains Sapir’s published works, including conference papers, manuscripts for proposed publications such as a travel book, articles and essays, speeches, and small booklets Sapir co-authored. There are also publications from other individuals that Sapir kept, though these are few.

  • SERIES B - Career

    Contains general materials relating to Sapir’s work outside the Learning Lab, such as her work with the United Nations.

  • SERIES C - Correspondence

    Contains professional and personal correspondence.

  • SERIES D - Learning Lab

    Contains materials relating directly to the Learning Lab at Bank Street College and includes case studies, funding, practicum materials such as syllabi and student work, research for possible publications, and materials.  The case studies, which form the bulk of this series, include daily logs, evaluations, meeting transcripts, and other materials relating to specific students in the program.

  • SERIES E - Audiovisual Materials

    Contains VHS and cassette tapes. Most of these tapes are related to the Learning Lab and contain footage of children as well as recordings of meetings with parents and graduate students.