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Creative Education Foundation [1915-2007, bulk 1950-1980]: Home

Descriptive Summary


The Creative Education Foundation Collection

Date Span:

1915-2007, bulk 1950-1980

Acquisition Number:



Creative Education Foundation


Creative Education Foundation

Date of Acquisition:

2015, 2018


22 boxes




Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State


2018, Hope Dunbar, Angela Ethridge, Heather Hartz

Information on Use


The Creative Education Foundation is open for research. 

Reproduction of Materials: 

See Archivist for information on reproducing materials from this collection, including photocopies, digital camera images, or digital scans, as well as copyright restrictions that may pertain to these materials. 

Even though all reasonable and customary best-practices have been pursued, this collection may contain materials with confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the SUNY Buffalo State assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation: 

[Description and dates], Box/folder number, The Creative Education Foundation Collection, Archives & Special Collections Department, E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State.

Biographical Note:

Founded in 1954, the Creative Education Foundation is the recognized world leader in Applied Imagination. Alex Osborn, an adman and educator, not only founded CEF, but also invented brainstorming and co-founded the ad firm, BBDO. His classic book, Applied Imagination, continues to inspire the work of CEF. Along with Sidney Parnes, Osborn developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving process. For more than 50 years, CEF has been teaching adults and children in organizations, schools and communities how to use this proven process to develop new ideas, solve problems and implement solutions. -taken from Creative Education Foundation, A History of CEF,

Prominent Individuals Included in Collection Materials:

John Curtis Gowan

John Curtis Gowan (May 21, 1912 – December 2, 1986) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Graduating from Thayer Academy, Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1929, John Gowan was only 17 when he entered Harvard University, earning his undergraduate degree four years later. A master's degree in mathematics followed; he then moved to Culver, Indiana, where he was employed as a counselor and mathematics teacher at Culver Military Academy from 1941 to 1952. Earning a doctorate from UCLA, he became a member of the founding faculty at the California State University at Northridge, where he taught as a professor of Educational Psychology from 1953 until 1975, when he retired with emeritus status.

Dr. Gowan became interested in gifted children after the Russians gained superiority in space with the 1957 launch of Sputnik. He formed the National Association for Gifted Children the following year. He was the group's executive director and president from 1975 to 1979 and over the years wrote more than 100 articles and fourteen books on gifted children, teacher evaluation, child development, and creativity.

While at Northridge, he developed a program to train campus counselors, was nominated in 1973 as outstanding professor, and had been a counselor, researcher, Fulbright lecturer, and visiting professor at various schools including the University of Singapore, the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, the University of Hawaii, and Connecticut State College. He was a fellow of the American Psychological Association and was also a colleague of the Creative Education Foundation.

Besides his work in Educational Psychology as specifically related to gifted children, he also had an interest in psychic (or psychedelic) phenomena as it relates to human creativity. His work in this area was inspired by the writings of Aldous Huxley and Carl Jung. Based on his work in creativity and with gifted children, Dr. Gowan developed a model of mental development that derived from the work of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson, but also included adult development beyond the ordinary adult successes of career and family building, extending into the emergence and stabilization of extraordinary development and mystical states of consciousness. He described the entire spectrum of available states in his classic Trance, Art, & Creativity (1975), with its different modalities of spiritual and aesthetic expression. He also devised a test for self-actualization, (as defined by Abraham Maslow), called the Northridge Developmental Scale. Dr. Gowan died on December 2, 1986.

Joy Paul Guilford

Joy Paul Guilford (March 7, 1897 – November 26, 1987) was an American psychologist best remembered for his psychometric study of human intelligence, including the distinction between convergent and divergent production.

Developing the views of L. L. Thurstone, Guilford rejected Charles Spearman's view that intelligence could be characterized in a single numerical parameter. He proposed that three dimensions were necessary for accurate description: operations, content, and products. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Guilford as the 27th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Ralph Hoepfner

Ralph Hoepfner is the assistant director of the Aptitude Research Project at the University of Southern California.

Sidney Parnes

Sidney Parnes (January 5, 1922 – August 19, 2013) was an American academic who was professor at SUNY Buffalo State College and the co-founder of the International Center for Studies in Creativity. The Center is housed within Buffalo State College, one of the only places in the world that offers a Master of Science degree in Creativity. The department also now offers a distance learning version of the degree to students around the world as well as an undergraduate minor in Creative Studies.

Parnes was a lifetime trustee of the Creative Education Foundation (CEF). He joined the CEF in 1955 in order to help develop a comprehensive educational program for the CEF's Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), which is the world's longest-running international creativity conference. In 1966, CEF founder Alex Osborn died, leaving Parnes to head the Foundation.

Parnes and Alex Osborn developed the Creative Problem Solving Process (CPS), a structured method for generating solutions to problems. This method is taught annually at the International Center for Studies in Creativity, the Creative Problem Solving Institute and the CREA Conference in Europe.

Ellis Paul Torrance

Ellis Paul Torrance (October 8, 1915 – July 12, 2003) was an American psychologist from Milledgeville, Georgia.

After completing his undergraduate degree at Mercer University, Torrance acquired a Master's degree at the University of Minnesota and then a doctorate from the University of Michigan. His teaching career spanned from 1957 to 1984. First, he taught at the University of Minnesota and then later at the University of Georgia, where he became professor of Educational Psychology in 1966.

Torrance is best known for his research in creativity. His major accomplishments include 1,871 publications:88 books; 256 parts of books or cooperative volumes; 408 journal articles; 538 reports, manuals, tests, etc.; 162 articles in popular journals or magazines; 355 conference papers; and 64 forewords or prefaces. He also created the Future Problem Solving Program International, the Incubation Curriculum Model, and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.

Scope and Contents:

Bibliographies; booklets; by-laws; cards; conferences; correspondence; exam kits; evaluations; magnetic tape; meeting minutes; memos; microfilm; newsletters; newspaper clippings; photographs; procedures; publications; research; score sheets; surveys; test materials; and workshops.


The collection is divided into two series based on date of donation. The folders are in the original order as delivered by the donor.