Stephen Maxwell Corey

Stephen Corey was the co-author with Lloyd Messersmith of the 1931 paper The distance traversed by a basketball player. At that time, Stephen was a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at De Pauw University. He had received his PhD in 1928 at the University of Illinois.

Stephen and Lloyd were of similar ages, Stephen was born in 1904 and Lloyd in 1905. At the time of the publication of their paper (in volume 2 of the Research Quarterly) they were what we call today ‘early career’ university teachers.

The paper reports the distances traversed in a whole game by the De Pauw University floor guard in a game against Miami University. Lloyd’s pursuit apparatus for measuring distances traversed required an assistant to record sounds emanating from the tracing wheel used. I imagine Stephen provided that service and kept a record of change of possessions in the game (p.59).

I am keen to introduce Stephen as part of this story. I see the paper as a seminal moment in the start of the notational analysis of performance as a scholarly activity. Lloyd brought his basketball teaching and coaching insights and Stephen came from a different academic background. Their paper cited no earlier references.

Stephen was appointed professor of educational psychology and superintendent of laboratory schools at the University of Chicago in 1940. Eight years later he became a member of staff at the Teachers College as executive officer of its Horace Mann-Lincoln Institute of School Experimentation. 

Stephen developed an expertise in action research and published a number of papers and books on the subject. These include:

  • 1940. The teachers out-talk the pupils. The School Review, 48(10), 745-752.
  • 1949. Action research, fundamental research and educational practices. Teachers College Record, 50(8), 509-514.
  • 1953. Action research to improve school practices. Oxford: Bureau of Publications, Teachers Co.
  • 1954. Action research in education. The journal of educational research, 47(5), 375-380.

To my knowledge, Stephen did not write another paper with Lloyd. In 1954, Stephen wrote that “action research in education is research undertaken by practitioners in order that they may improve their practices” (p.375).

Back in 1931, Lloyd was developing his skills as a coach. I am hopeful that Stephen’s interest in action research gave them lots to discuss as they both started out on their coaching, teaching and research journeys.

Both of them spent their professional lives as educators. Lloyd died in 1977 and Stephen in 1984.

Photo Credits

Corey, Stephen M. (The University of Chicago Photographic Archive [apf1-01929], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library permission to use for educational and scholarly uses)

Apparatus for measuring distance travelled by basketball players

Cut to the Chase?

I posted earlier today about Bradley Cook, the Curator of Photographs in the Office of University Archives and Records Management at Indiana University. Bradley had shared with me a link to a photograph of Lloyd Messersmith’s measuring device.

For the best part of twenty-years, I thought Lloyd’s measuring wheel was a pastry cutter, taped up to give scaled readings of distance as Lloyd traced the distances traversed by basketball players.

As a result of Bradley’s work and the sharing of this photograph


… it is probable he used a swivel caster from a chair. This is Bradley’s take:

When you take a look at the image you can see how thick the metal frame is that holds the wheel. My guess is that he purchased a swivel caster to make it easier to go back and forth and make turns while following the player’s movement.

This would have made Lloyd’s measurements even more agile than I had anticipated. I am now thinking Lloyd is the Eadweard Muybridge of notational analysis.

Photo Credit

Detail of Lloyd Messersmith’s measuring device (Bradley Cook, Indiana University)

Remembering Lloyd: Celebrating Curation


Today was a serendipity day.

This morning, I read a post by Anita Brooks Kirkland about the role of the teacher-librarian as a curator.  She concludes:

In the early days of the Internet we sometimes had to justify our existence. After all, who needed libraries and librarians when we had the Internet? Fast-forward to 2013 and the very techies who espoused that idea are discovering a compelling need for human intervention in contextualizing information. Taking the lead in this environment offers a huge opportunity for teacher-librarianship.

This afternoon, I received a delightful email alert from Bradley Cook, the Curator of Photographs in the Office of University Archives and Records Management at Indiana University. Bradley shared with me a link to a photograph of Lloyd Messersmith’s measuring device for quantifying distances traversed in basketball. This photograph appears at the top of this post and is reproduced here with the permission of the Office of University Archives and Records Management at Indiana University. The photograph was taken seventy-three years ago.

I think this is a very important artifact and exemplifies perfectly the vital work that curators do on our behalf. Anita Brooks Kirkland observes:

The core element of content curation is the human touch. For librarians who found themselves defending that role in the early days of the Internet, one can’t help reflect on the irony of the rest of the world now realizing that they really do need help in filtering and sharing information effectively!

Lloyd’s device is very significant. To my knowledge his thesis is the first to outline a technological tool to measure distances travelled in a sport (basketball) and as such makes him (along with Hugh Fullerton) a founding father of notational analysis of sport.

I have written about Lloyd’s work and provide some detailed information about him.

You can find out more about the outcome of Bradley’s curation work at this link.

Photo Credit

Apparatus for measuring distance travelled by basketball players

LLM Record