Guide to the Elizabeth Elmer Papers, 1959-1993 UA.90.F86

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ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Elizabeth Elmer Papers
Creator
Elmer, Elizabeth
Collection Number
UA.90.F86
Date
1959-1993
Extent
5.84 linear feet (6 boxes)
Abstract
This collection contains the professional papers of Elizabeth "Betty" Elmer, University of Pittsburgh faculty member, psychiatric social worker, and pioneer in the study of child abuse. Records include personal writing, data and case files for a number of grant-funded studies into the short and long term effects of child abuse, and the organizational records related to the Parental Stress Center and its Bright Beginnings program. The material in the collection dates from 1959 to 1993.

Preferred Citation

Elizabeth Elmer Papers, 1959-1993, UA.90.F86, University Archives, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography

Elizabeth "Betty" Elmer was born in Black Rock, Arkansas, in 1911. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 1932 from Syracuse University. During World War II she worked at a military hospital in Guam as a member of the Red Cross, a role which drew the praise of colleagues and deepened her interest in humanitarian concerns. Following the war, Elmer enrolled in the Smith College School of Social Work, where she received a Master's Degree in Psychiatric Social Work in 1948. She initially worked for family agencies in both Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Rochester, New York, before relocating to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to pursue a research opportunity.

Elmer began as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Social Work in 1954, and it was while supervising students at the Children's Hospital a few years later that she happened upon an incident of infant trauma that would affect a reorientation of her career. Attempting to pursue further details on what she believed to be a unique trauma from the previous night, Elmer was shocked to learn that the hospital had numerous records of a infants admitted with similar injuries. Her initial concern over the regularity of infant abuse grew, as further research confirmed that no legal apparatus prevented the return of such cases to parental custody. Literature on the subject of child abuse was nearly non-existentin the 1950s, and the little that was available was thoroughly obscured by the clinical language and limited audience involved with publication in medical journals.

Elmer moved from the Graduate School of Social Work to the School of Medicine in 1962, where she first taught in the Department of Pediatrics and subsequently, the Department of Psychiatry until her 1981 resignation. Elmer retained the distinction of Emeritus Professor of Child Psychiatry, but was focusing on other professional activity. Primarily she was busy with the Parental Stress Center (PSC) which she co-founded in 1975. The PSC was designed to educate and assist families with abused and at-risk children by providing resources, training and intervention. During her time at both the University of Pittsburgh and the PSC, Elmer conducted a number of pioneering studies into child and infant abuse. The results of several of these studies formed the material for her two books, Children in Jeopardy: a study of abused minors and their families and  Fragile Families, Troubled Children: the aftermath of infant trauma. She also initiated Bright Beginnings, a parental education program for similar purposes. In her retirement from teaching and the PSC, Elmer served on the board of directors for Safe and Sound, the Western Pennsylvania Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

Elmer passed away in April of 2007 at the age of 96. Family Resources Inc., a Pittsburgh child abuse prevention organization, presents an annual Betty Elmer Award.

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Scope and Content Notes

This collection documents Elizabeth Elmer's various professional activities around issues of infant and child abuse. Material consists of academic and professional writing, case files of child abuse studies, recorded interviews, instructional videos, annotated publications, and various organizational records of the Parental Stress Center, Bright Beginnings, and Safe and Sound, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, chapter of the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

A significant portion of this collection involves comprehensive documentation of long term grant funded studies into child abuse. Elmer's 1964-1969 Infant Accident Study and the subsequent  Follow up Study of Traumatized Children of 1974 to 1975 are heavily represented, as is her later study  Children in Jeopardy, which revisits the infant subjects of her 1962 to 1964  Fifty Family Study in adulthood.

The materials are arranged in five series. More detailed descriptions follow in individual series scope and content notes.

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Arrangement

Series I. Articles and Speeches, 1959-1989

Series II. Child Abuse Studies, 1964-1988

Series III. Child Abuse Organizations, 1975-1993

Series IV. Publications, 1965-1990

Series V. Audiovisual Formats, 1975-1988

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, July 2009

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Access Restrictions

Case files are restricted. A signed confidentiality agreement is required for access.

Copyright

The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Elizabeth Elmer on February 28, 2006.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sean Kilcoyne in January 2009.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Bright Beginnings (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse (U.S.).
  • Parental Stress Center.
  • Safe and Sound (Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh.
  • Western Pennsylvania Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

Genre(s)

  • Audiotapes
  • Transcripts
  • Videotapes

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Elmer, Elizabeth

Subject(s)

  • Child abuse
  • Child abuse -- Case studies
  • Child abuse -- Pennsylvania
  • Child abuse -- Pennsylvania -- Case studies
  • Faculty papers
  • Health and medicine
  • University of Pittsburgh

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Previous Citation

Elizabeth Elmer Papers, 1959-1993, UA.90.F86, University Archives, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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Bibliography

Elmer, Elizabeth. Children in Jeopardy; a study of abused minors and their families. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1967. Elmer, Elizabeth.  Fragile Families, Troubled Children: the aftermath of infant trauma. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977.

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. Articles and Speeches, 1959-1989 

Scope and Content Notes

This series documents the writing of Elizabeth Elmer during her time at the Smith College School of Social Work and over the course of her professional career. Where dates are available, materials proceed in a chronological order up to the last three folders. These folders contain a variety of information, and have the distinction of having been selected by the author for inclusion in a three ring binder of writing samples. The folders preserve Elmer's original order. Material in this series dates from 1959 to 1989.

Notes and transcripts of speeches are also included in this series.

  BoxFolder
Smith College School of Social Work, 1959 11
  Folder
"Growth and Development through Parenting", 1980 2
  Folder
"Child Abuse: An Evaluation of a Residential Program", 1981 3
  Folder
Testimony Presented before U. S. House of Representatives on the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Act, March 9, 1981 4
  Folder
"Outcome of Residential Treatment for Abused and High Risk Infants", 1986 5
  Folder
Speech at Eighth National Conference of Child Abuse, October 23, 1989 6
  Folder
Fist article about Children in Jeopardy, undated 7
  Folder
Drafts for second article about Children in Jeopardy, undated 8
  Folder
Materials for third article about Children in Jeopardy, undated 9
  Folder
Bright Beginnings Presentation, undated 10
  Folder
"Adult Outcome of Childhood Abuse", undated 11
  Folder
Work from Elmer's Binder, undated 12
  Folder
Work from Elmer's Binder, undated 13
  Folder
Work from Elmer's Binder, undated 14

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Series  II. Child Abuse Studies, 1964-1988 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains extensive documentation surrounding several of Elmer's groundbreaking studies into infant and child abuse. It is arranged chronologically and begins with Elmer's 1964-1969 Infant Accident Study and the subsequent  Follow up Study of Traumatized Children of 1974-1975. Her  Children in Jeopardy study from the 1980s revisits the infant subjects of her 1962-1964  Fifty Family Study in their adulthood. In addition to these major projects, two more compact studies are included in this series: the 1977 - 1981  Child Abuse: Evaluation of a Residential Program and the1988  Infant Teaching Project. The materials date from 1964 to 1988.

Subseries  1.  The Infant Accident Study (IAS), 1964-1969 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries includes materials from Elmer's second major study into child abuse. The records document the planning and conceptualization of the study, which precede individual case files. The materials are arranged in numerical order.

  Folder
Original Instruments and Job Assignments, undated 15
  Folder
Instruments and Consults, undated 16
  Folder
Minutes, September 1966-June 1968 17
  Folder
Pediatrician Questionnaire [RESTRICTED], undated 18
  Folder
Analysis of Data Methods, undated 19
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 20
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 21
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 22
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 23
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 24
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED, undated 25
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 26
  Folder
Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated 27
  Folder
Subject Cards [RESTRICTED], undated 28
  Folder
Study Case Numbers [RESTRICTED], undated 29
  Folder
IAS 106 [RESTRICTED], undated 30
  Folder
IAS 108 [RESTRICTED], undated 31
  Folder
IAS 109 [RESTRICTED], undated 32
  BoxFolder
IAS 114 [RESTRICTED], undated 21
  Folder
IAS 126 [RESTRICTED], undated 2
  Folder
IAS 127 [RESTRICTED], undated 3
  Folder
IAS 151 [RESTRICTED], undated 4
  Folder
IAS 177 [RESTRICTED], undated 5
  Folder
IAS 183 [RESTRICTED], undated 6
  Folder
IAS 201 [RESTRICTED], undated 7
  Folder
IAS 202 [RESTRICTED], undated 8
  Folder
IAS 208 [RESTRICTED], undated 9
  Folder
IAS 214 [RESTRICTED], undated 10
  Folder
IAS 215 [RESTRICTED], undated 11
  Folder
IAS 218 [RESTRICTED], undated 12
  Folder
IAS 225 [RESTRICTED], undated 13
  Folder
IAS 235 [RESTRICTED], undated 14
  Folder
IAS 237 [RESTRICTED], undated 15
  Folder
IAS 240 [RESTRICTED], undated 16
  Folder
IAS 243 [RESTRICTED], undated 17
  Folder
IAS 244 [RESTRICTED], undated 18

Subseries  2.  Follow Up Study (to IAS), 1974-1975 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries encompasses the planning, data, and case files to the project most commonly known as the Follow Up Study. Informally, the study was often described in relation to its component parts: T1, the time during the study, T2, one year later, and T3, further follow ups. This project was launched as an attempt to revisit the subjects of her previous  Infant Accident Study to explore the effects of the abuse study participants suffered in infancy.

  Folder
Follow Up Study Proposal, undated 19
  Folder
Overview, T1 and T2 [RESTRICTED], undated 20
  Folder
Overview, T3 [RESTRICTED], undated 21
  Folder
Overview, T3 [RESTRICTED], undated 22
  Folder
Juvenile Court, Child Welfare, and MHMR Agencies [RESTRICTED], undated 23
  Folder
Teacher and Psychologist Questionnaires [RESTRICTED], undated 24
  Folder
Instruments, undated 25
  Folder
Family Analysis, undated 26
  Folder
Card Layouts, cards 60-91, undated 27
  BoxFolder
FU 05 [RESTRICTED], undated 31
  Folder
FU 06 [RESTRICTED], undated 2
  Folder
FU 07 [RESTRICTED], undated 3
  Folder
FU 14 [RESTRICTED], undated 4
  Folder
FU 15 [RESTRICTED], undated 5
  Folder
FU 18 [RESTRICTED], undated 6
  Folder
FU 21 [RESTRICTED], undated 7
  Folder
FU 23 [RESTRICTED], undated 8
  Folder
FU 31 [RESTRICTED], undated 9
  Folder
FU 32 [RESTRICTED], undated 10
  Folder
FU 36 [RESTRICTED], undated 11
  Folder
FU 38 [RESTRICTED], undated 12
  Folder
FU 42 [RESTRICTED], undated 13
  Folder
FU 45 [RESTRICTED], undated 14
  Folder
FU 47 [RESTRICTED], undated 15
  Folder
FU 49 (photocopies) [RESTRICTED], undated 16
  Folder
FU 52 (photocopies) [RESTRICTED], undated 17

Subseries  3.  Child Abuse: Evaluation of a Residential Program, 1977-1981 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries includes a summary of this grant-funded study which attempted to measure the impact that the Parental Stress Center's residential program had upon the abused and high risk infants that participated. Subject master cards are included in addition to a summary of the program.

  Folder
Final Report Summary, undated 18
  Folder
Subject Cards [RESTRICTED], undated 19

Subseries  4.  Children in Jeopardy, 1986 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries documents Elmer's extensive 1986 follow up to her Fifty Family Study, conducted between 1962 and 1964. Elmer attempted to locate and interview as many of the now adult subjects as possible. Included in the subseries are many examples of instruments, consent forms, sample interviews, and study data, providing insight into Elmer's conceptualization of the project. There are many individual case files and participant interviews in the study.

  Folder
Project Presentation Transparencies, undated 20
  Folder
Reading Notes, undated 21
  Folder
Instruments, undated 22
  Folder
Instruments Pt. 2, undated 23
  Folder
Interview Forms, undated 24
  Folder
Follow Up Interview 1, undated 25
  Folder
Follow Up Subject Search [RESTRICTED], undated 26
  Folder
Sample Addresses [RESTRICTED], undated 27
  Folder
Second Follow Up Interview, Letters and Directions [RESTRICTED], undated 28
  Folder
Health Questions [RESTRICTED], undated 29
  Folder
Follow Up Codebook [RESTRICTED], undated 30
  Folder
Follow Up Codebook [RESTRICTED], undated 31
  Folder
Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated 32
  Folder
Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated 33
  Folder
Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated 34
  Folder
Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated 35
  Folder
Tests, undated 36
  Folder
Relatedness Data Notes [RESTRICTED], undated 37
  Folder
Data Analysis Notes, undated 38
  Folder
Total Variables, undated 39
  Folder
Data, undated 40
  Folder
Follow Up Scales, undated 41
  Folder
First Article Data, undated 42
  BoxFolder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 41
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 2
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 3
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 4
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 5
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 6
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 7
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 8
  Folder
Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated 9
  Folder
C in J 02 [RESTRICTED], undated 10
  Folder
C in J 03 [RESTRICTED], undated 11
  Folder
C in J 11 [RESTRICTED], undated 12
  Folder
C in J 12 [RESTRICTED], undated 13
  Folder
C in J 19 [RESTRICTED], undated 14
  Folder
C in J 22 [RESTRICTED], undated 15
  Folder
C in J 26 [RESTRICTED], undated 16
  Folder
C in J 28 [RESTRICTED], undated 17
  Folder
C in J 36 [RESTRICTED], undated 18
  Folder
C in J 47 [RESTRICTED], undated 19
  Folder
C in J 48 [RESTRICTED], undated 20
  Folder
C in J 50 [RESTRICTED], undated 21

Subseries  5.  Infant Teaching Project, 1988-1990 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries includes information on Elmer's final study, the Infant Teaching Project. This project explored the disciplinary actions of caregivers in response to unsuitable behavior in infants up to 24 months of age. Physical punishment and the potential for abuse were of particular interest in this context. Included are sample interviews, planning documents, and data extracted from the actual interviews.

  Folder
Interviewing and Planning [RESTRICTED], undated 22
  Folder
Interview Schedules: Pediatricians, undated 23
  Folder
Pediatrician Letters of Thanks [RESTRICTED], undated 24
  Folder
Study Data, undated 25
  Folder
Study Data, undated 26

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Series  III. Child Abuse Organizations, 1975-1993 

Scope and Content Notes

This series documents Elmer's work with local child abuse organizations. She was one of the co-founders of the Parental Stress Center (PSC) in 1975, and served there as the Director of Research and Training until her retirement in 1990. Elmer launched Bright Beginnings in 1982, which included parental training and a phone counseling service for new or unprepared parents. This latter program was absorbed by Safe and Sound, the Western Pennsylvania Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

Subseries  1. Parental Stress Center, 1975-1990 

Scope and Contents note

The Parental Stress Agency is a Pittsburgh organization co-founded by Elmer in 1975. The PSC focuses their efforts upon preventing child abuse by strengthening family bonds and training those responsible for child care, and features a number of programs towards this end. Included within this subseries are early organizational records.

  Folder
PSC, 1975-1977 27
  Folder
PSC, 1975-1977 28
  Folder
Conference and Lecture Notes, 1976-1986 29
  Folder
Forms, 1983 30
  Folder
Volunteer Training , undated 31
  Folder
Contacts, 1989-1990 [RESTRICTED] 32

Subseries  2. Bright Beginnings, 1982-1991 

Scope and Contents note

Bright Beginnings was an educational project of the Parental Stress Center initiated by Elmer in 1982. The Bright Beginnings Warmline served to provide information referrals and non judgmental phone counseling to parents overwhelmed with childrearing. Included within this subseries are project overviews, sample promotional literature, an implementation manual, caller follow up records, and an evaluation of the program. Bright Beginnings was later absorbed by Safe and Sound, the Western Pennsylvania Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

  Folder
Basic Program Overview, undated 33
  Folder
Training Workshops, 1982-1983 34
  Folder
Consulting and Cost Effectiveness Notes, 1984-1988 35
  Folder
Evaluation of Bright Beginnings, 1986-1987 36
  Folder
Evaluation of Bright Beginnings, 1990 37
  Folder
Call Follow Up Record, 1990 [RESTRICTED] 38
  Folder
Implementation Manual, 1991 39

Subseries  3. Safe and Sound, 1988-1993 

Scope and Contents note

The Western Pennsylvania Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, or Safe and Sound as it was more commonly known, was a volunteer organization founded in 1988 to prevent child abuse within a twenty-four county region of Western Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Elmer served on the Board of Directors of this organization beginning in 1990. Included in this subseries are meeting minutes and correspondence, as well as an annotated selection of materials from the national parent organization.

  BoxFolder
Mission Statement and Long Range Plan, undated 51
  Folder
Board Orientation Materials, 1990 2
  Folder
Board of Directors, 1990-1993 3
  Folder
Board of Directors, 1990-1993 4
  Folder
Correspondence, 1992-1993 5
  Folder
National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse materials, undated 6

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Series  IV. Publications, 1965-1990 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains publications annotated by Elmer in the course of her research and work. The materials in this series are published by a number of sources and all deal with child abuse, except for a booklet related to fund raising.

  Folder
Publications, Monograph of the Society for Research in Child Development, 1965-1973 7
  Folder
Publications, Assorted, 1978-1990 8

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Series  V. Audiovisual Materials, 1975-1988 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains both audio and video recordings made in the process of Elmer's work. Included are cassette recordings of interviews with adult subjects for the Children in Jeopardy study as well as VHS and U-Matic video cassettes made for training purposes by the Parental Stress Center. There is also a significant audio interview with Elmer from August 28, 1987 in which she discusses her background and how she came to be an advocate for abused and neglected children.

  BoxFolder
VHS Combo Tape, undated 61
  Folder
U-Matic Shelby Myers Tape, 1976 2
  Folder
U-Matic Hawaii Combo Re-edited Tape, undated 3
  Folder
U-Matic Nursing Curriculum Tape, undated 4
  Folder
Elizabeth Elmer Audio Interview, August 28, 1987 5
  Folder
P0 2 Cassette, undated 6
  Folder
C in J 02, undated 7
  Folder
C in J 02, undated 8
  Folder
C in J 02, undated 9
  Folder
C in J 03, undated 10
  Folder
C in J 11, undated 11
  Folder
C in J 12, undated 12
  Folder
C in J 18, undated 13
  Folder
C in J 24, undated 14
  Folder
C in J 26, undated 15
  Folder
C in J 26, undated 16
  Folder
C in J 27, undated 17
  Folder
C in J 28, undated 18
  Folder
C in J 30, undated 19
  Folder
C in J 35, undated 20
  Folder
C in J 36, undated 21
  Folder
C in J 42, undated 22
  Folder
C in J 47, undated 23
  Folder
C in J 48, undated 24
  Folder
C in J 48, undated 25
  Folder
C in J 53, undated 26

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