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Papers of Professor Boris Semeonoff

Identifier: Coll-225

Scope and Contents

The papers of Boris Semeonoff consist of thirteen notebooks containing Psychology and Education notes, two laboratory notebooks containing notes on Experimental Psychology and Experimental Education, a file containing a photograph of Semeonoff and a autobiography in typescript entitledChanging horizons: an essay in autobiography, and a thesis presented for the degree of B.Ed. 1933. The thesis is entitledA study of children's literary proclivities.


  • Creation: [ca. 1928]-1933

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Boris Semeonoff was born in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) on 20 March 1910 and arrived in Scotland at the age of four, in 1914, on holiday. With the outbreak of war that year, return travel to Russia was cut off and his mother, Anna Hering Semeonoff (b. 1883), became a teacher of Russian in the city. The young Semeonoff was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and then studied at Edinburgh University. He first graduated in 1931 with the degree of MA with honours in English Language and Literature, and then in 1933 with the degree of B.Ed. After that he was appointed to the staff of the Psychology Department in the University and continued his studies for the degree of Ph.D in Pyschology. This was awarded in 1936 for his thesis on Weber's Law in relation to the intensity of sound. Apart from the period interrupted by the Second World War, Semeonoff worked in the University's Psychology Department for the rest of his career. During the war he was involved in the selection of personnel for the Special Operations Executive and in the selection of army officers. In 1956, Semeonoff became a Senior Lecturer, and in 1964 he was given a Readership. Between 1958 and 1964, he edited theBritish Journal of Psychology, and during this period the journal achieved an enhanced international position. Research on the assessment of personality dominated his later years, and this work had been grounded on his wartime experience in the Services. Influential titles were written on the subject, includingProjective techniques(1976). Earlier he had editedPersonality assessment: selected readings(1966). Throughout his career, Semeonoff did much to nurture the development of British psychology, and he was a member of the council of the British Psychology Society, a president of the Society, and honorary life member. His interest in sound was not only evident in his psychological research but also in music as a leisure activity. He wrote on this too, notablyRecord collecting: a guide for beginners(1949). Semeonoff retired in 1980 and died in Edinburgh on 2 August 1998.


1 box

Physical Location

MS 3214

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers came to from the estate of Boris Semeonoff, March 1999. Accession no. E99/08.

Papers of Boris Semeonoff (1910-1998)
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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