Summary Information
Title: Elizabeth Elmer Papers
Collection Number: UA.90.F86
Creator: Elmer, Elizabeth

Collection Dates: 1959-1993
Extent: 5.84 linear feet (6 boxes)

Language: English

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.
Publisher:

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
412-648-3232
archives-ref@mail.pitt.edu
Date Published:

July 2009
Author:

Finding aid prepared by Sean Kilcoyne.
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.


Collection 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.


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


Subject Terms

Topics
  • Child abuse
  • Child abuse -- Case studies
  • Child abuse -- Pennsylvania
  • Child abuse -- Pennsylvania -- Case studies

Corporate Names
  • 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.

Personal Names
  • Elmer, Elizabeth

Locations
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)

Genres/Forms
  • Audiotapes
  • Transcripts
  • Videotapes

Category
  • Faculty papers
  • Health and medicine
  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

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

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Elizabeth Elmer on February 28, 2006.

Preferred Citation:

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

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Sean Kilcoyne in January 2009.

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.

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.


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.


Box 1
Folder 1 Smith College School of Social Work, 1959
Folder 2 "Growth and Development through Parenting", 1980
Folder 3 "Child Abuse: An Evaluation of a Residential Program", 1981
Folder 4 Testimony Presented before U. S. House of Representatives on the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Act, March 9, 1981
Folder 5 "Outcome of Residential Treatment for Abused and High Risk Infants", 1986
Folder 6 Speech at Eighth National Conference of Child Abuse, October 23, 1989
Folder 7 Fist article about Children in Jeopardy, undated
Folder 8 Drafts for second article about Children in Jeopardy, undated
Folder 9 Materials for third article about Children in Jeopardy, undated
Folder 10 Bright Beginnings Presentation, undated
Folder 11 "Adult Outcome of Childhood Abuse", undated
Folder 12 Work from Elmer's Binder, undated
Folder 13 Work from Elmer's Binder, undated
Folder 14 Work from Elmer's Binder, undated

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 Content Notes:

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 15 Original Instruments and Job Assignments, undated
Folder 16 Instruments and Consults, undated
Folder 17 Minutes, September 1966-June 1968
Folder 18 Pediatrician Questionnaire [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 19 Analysis of Data Methods, undated
Folder 20 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 21 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 22 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 23 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 24 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 25 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED, undated
Folder 26 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 27 Review for Final Evaluation [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 28 Subject Cards [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 29 Study Case Numbers [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 30 IAS 106 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 31 IAS 108 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 32 IAS 109 [RESTRICTED], undated

Box 2
Folder 1 IAS 114 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 2 IAS 126 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 3 IAS 127 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 4 IAS 151 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 5 IAS 177 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 6 IAS 183 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 7 IAS 201 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 8 IAS 202 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 9 IAS 208 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 10 IAS 214 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 11 IAS 215 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 12 IAS 218 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 13 IAS 225 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 14 IAS 235 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 15 IAS 237 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 16 IAS 240 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 17 IAS 243 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 18 IAS 244 [RESTRICTED], undated

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

Scope and Content Notes:

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 19 Follow Up Study Proposal, undated
Folder 20 Overview, T1 and T2 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 21 Overview, T3 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 22 Overview, T3 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 23 Juvenile Court, Child Welfare, and MHMR Agencies [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 24 Teacher and Psychologist Questionnaires [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 25 Instruments, undated
Folder 26 Family Analysis, undated
Folder 27 Card Layouts, cards 60-91, undated

Box 3
Folder 1 FU 05 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 2 FU 06 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 3 FU 07 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 4 FU 14 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 5 FU 15 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 6 FU 18 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 7 FU 21 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 8 FU 23 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 9 FU 31 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 10 FU 32 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 11 FU 36 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 12 FU 38 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 13 FU 42 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 14 FU 45 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 15 FU 47 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 16 FU 49 (photocopies) [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 17 FU 52 (photocopies) [RESTRICTED], undated

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

Scope and Content Notes:

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

Subseries 4. Children in Jeopardy, 1986

Scope and Content Notes:

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 20 Project Presentation Transparencies, undated
Folder 21 Reading Notes, undated
Folder 22 Instruments, undated
Folder 23 Instruments Pt. 2, undated
Folder 24 Interview Forms, undated
Folder 25 Follow Up Interview 1, undated
Folder 26 Follow Up Subject Search [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 27 Sample Addresses [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 28 Second Follow Up Interview, Letters and Directions [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 29 Health Questions [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 30 Follow Up Codebook [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 31 Follow Up Codebook [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 32 Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 33 Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 34 Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 35 Second Interview Codebook Notes [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 36 Tests, undated
Folder 37 Relatedness Data Notes [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 38 Data Analysis Notes, undated
Folder 39 Total Variables, undated
Folder 40 Data, undated
Folder 41 Follow Up Scales, undated
Folder 42 First Article Data, undated

Box 4
Folder 1 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 2 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 3 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 4 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 5 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 6 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 7 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 8 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 9 Forms for CHP [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 10 C in J 02 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 11 C in J 03 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 12 C in J 11 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 13 C in J 12 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 14 C in J 19 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 15 C in J 22 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 16 C in J 26 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 17 C in J 28 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 18 C in J 36 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 19 C in J 47 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 20 C in J 48 [RESTRICTED], undated
Folder 21 C in J 50 [RESTRICTED], undated

Subseries 5. Infant Teaching Project, 1988-1990

Scope and Content Notes:

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

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 Content Notes:

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

Subseries 2. Bright Beginnings, 1982-1991

Scope and Content Notes:

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

Subseries 3. Safe and Sound, 1988-1993

Scope and Content Notes:

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.


Box 5
Folder 1 Mission Statement and Long Range Plan, undated
Folder 2 Board Orientation Materials, 1990
Folder 3 Board of Directors, 1990-1993
Folder 4 Board of Directors, 1990-1993
Folder 5 Correspondence, 1992-1993
Folder 6 National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse materials, undated

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

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.


Box 6
Folder 1 VHS Combo Tape, undated
Folder 2 U-Matic Shelby Myers Tape, 1976
Folder 3 U-Matic Hawaii Combo Re-edited Tape, undated
Folder 4 U-Matic Nursing Curriculum Tape, undated
Folder 5 Elizabeth Elmer Audio Interview, August 28, 1987
Folder 6 P0 2 Cassette, undated
Folder 7 C in J 02, undated
Folder 8 C in J 02, undated
Folder 9 C in J 02, undated
Folder 10 C in J 03, undated
Folder 11 C in J 11, undated
Folder 12 C in J 12, undated
Folder 13 C in J 18, undated
Folder 14 C in J 24, undated
Folder 15 C in J 26, undated
Folder 16 C in J 26, undated
Folder 17 C in J 27, undated
Folder 18 C in J 28, undated
Folder 19 C in J 30, undated
Folder 20 C in J 35, undated
Folder 21 C in J 36, undated
Folder 22 C in J 42, undated
Folder 23 C in J 47, undated
Folder 24 C in J 48, undated
Folder 25 C in J 48, undated
Folder 26 C in J 53, undated