Samuel Torrey Orton and June Lyday Orton case files

Creator
Samuel Torrey Orton, 1879-1948 and June Lyday Orton, 1898-1977
Date [inclusive]
1925-1977
Languages
English
Physical Description
65 cubic feet (138 boxes, 8 cartons)
Access

All 3231 case files in the collection were microfilmed in North Carolina in 1980-81. Researchers must use these microfilm copies.

Though surnames have been removed, the records still retain personally identifying information.  Researchers are allowed access only after agreeing not to publish any names or personally identifying information of those individuals with learning disabilities treated by the Ortons.

Abstract

Over 3200 case files of dyslexic children seen by Samuel Torrey Orton and June Lyday Orton between 1925 and 1977. Cases prior to 1948 are from Samuel Orton's private practice in New York City, though June Orton was much involved with evaluation and remedial planning. Later cases are from June Orton's work in language disabilities in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Contents vary over time, but the files usually contain referral information from schools; detailed case histories; tests administered; educational profiles with test results plotted; case reports; progress reports; and correspondence with patients, their parents, and their teachers.

Cite as
Samuel Torrey and June Lyday Orton Case Files, Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library.
Historical/Biographical Note

See Biographical Note of the Samuel Torrey Orton and June Lyday Orton Papers

Scope and Content

This collection contains the professional files of over 3200 cases seen by Samuel Torrey Orton and June Lyday Orton between 1925 and 1977. The cases prior to 1948 are from Samuel Orton's private practice in New York City (though June Orton was much involved with evaluation and remedial planning), and the later cases are from June Orton's work in language disabilities in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. These case files document the Ortons' involvement in the field of specific language disabilities, their approach to the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with reading and writing difficulties, and the development and growth of their methods over fifty years. The files are arranged alphabetically by patient name, but all surnames have been removed from case records to preserve confidentiality.

The following types of materials are found within the case files:

  1. Information received from schools and referral sources prior to the Ortons' evaluation. This includes test scores, I.Q. scores, grades, teacher evaluations, physical and medical evaluations, and reports of earlier language therapy.
  2. Detailed case histories. These may include developmental, medical, social, environmental, educational, and familial data. Typically, June Orton gathered this information during conferences with parents.
  3. Tests administered. The Ortons used tests designed to measure intelligence, silent and oral reading, dictated spelling, handwriting, written composition, math reasoning and computation, and other areas of academic achievement. Also included in the diagnostic battery were motor tasks to determine cerebral dominance, perceptual tests, tests for auditory memory, and audiograms. Roughly within each decade, the Ortons employed similar tests, but over time, added newer evaluative methods. The common intelligence tests include the various Wechsler Intelligence tests; Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test; Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test; Thematic Apperception Test; Draw-A-Person; Stanford Binet; Slossen; Otis Self-Administering Test of Mental Ability. Other achievement tests include the Standardized Oral Reading Paragraphs by William S. Gray; Gates McGinitie; Gates Basic Reading Test; Iota Word List; Gilmore Oral Reading Test; Nonsense Phonetic Words; Wide Range Achievement Test; Gates Advanced Primary Reading Test; Stanford Achievement Test; Diagnostic Reading Test - Survey Section (School and College); Iowa Silent Reading Test; Otis Arithmetic Reasoning Test. A more detailed list of tests used by decade is available in the Archives.
  4. Educational profiles with test results plotted. These provide a graphic picture of an individual's development in mathematical and basic language skills in terms of chronological age, school grade, and mental maturity.
  5. Case reports. These consist of summary statements for research purposes and letters to parents, school personnel, and referral sources regarding diagnosis and recommendations. With respect to diagnosis, the preferred terminology evolved from the 1920s to the 1970s, from strephosymbolia and specific language / reading / learning / developmental disability, to dyslexia. A more detailed list of terminology used is available in the Archives. Regarding treatment, the Ortons offered detailed recommendations for teaching their clients. The specific techniques were heavily influenced by Anna Gillingham's structured, multisensory, individualized approach to phonics. In later years, June Orton was more personally involved in teacher training, and written recommendations became less specific. Other recommendations pertained to school selection, one-on-one tutoring, emotional adjustment, and other factors.
  6. Progress reports from language therapists and schools. Student progress was carefully monitored throughout the period of the Ortons' involvement, and often lasted for several years.
  7. Related correspondence and, occasionally, newspaper clippings concerning clients and their families.
Provenance

See Provenance Note of the Samuel Torrey Orton and June Lyday Orton Papers.

Processing Notes

Finding aid prepared by Bob Vietrogoski, May 2002