Noted child psychologist Louise Bates Ames, PhD, was instrumental in the field of child and human development. Both her undergraduate (1930) and master’s (1933) degrees in psychology were received from the University of Maine. Her doctoral degree in experimental psychology was granted by Yale University in 1936. Working with Arnold Gesell, in her doctoral dissertation, Ames examined the development of creeping and crawling in infants, otherwise known as the development of “prone progression.” This, along with her collaboration with Gesell, soon developed into the theme that followed her life’s work—the appearance of relatively clear-cut stages of human development that follow each other in a defined and predictable pattern. This work led to numerous honorary degrees and awards. Among them are two doctor of science degrees, awarded in 1957 from the University of Maine and in 1967 from Wheaton College. In 1974, Ames was the recipient of University of Maine’s Alumni Career Award, described as the highest and most distinguished alumni award offered by the university.
Upon the completion of her doctoral degree, Ames worked with Gesell in the Yale Child Studies Clinic. In 1950, Ames, Frances L. Ilg, and Janet Learned (Rodell) cofounded the Gesell Institute of Child Development in Gesell’s honor to continue his work. There, Ames served as director of research, associate director, and director and following her retirement, as president of the board.
Her publication list (ranging from 1953 to the early 1990s) is extensive. She authored and coauthored many books and articles and appeared on several television and radio shows. Some of her best-known books are also listed as her favorites, including Don’t Push Your Preschooler, which she coauthored with her daughter, Joan Ames Chase. He Hit Me First, Your One Year Old, and Your Seven Year Old, coauthored with her granddaughter, Carol Chase Harber, are also among her most popular. In addition to her publications, Ames began a daily newspaper column, “Questions Parents Ask,” in 1952 that lasted for 25 years and was carried by 65 newspapers across the country. “We had more papers than Ann Landers when we began. And we started first,” she often noted with pride. One year later, she brought her knowledge and expertise about children and parenting to television stations in major cities.
Ames died on October 31, 1996. Her work is carried on today by the Gesell Institute of Human Development in New Haven, Connecticut.
Gesell Institute of Human Development, http://www.gesellinstitute.org