Fonds F0681 - Eric Trist fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Eric Trist fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Sound recording
  • Graphic material
  • Moving images

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code


Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


Physical description area

Physical description

1.72 m of textual records
29 photographs : b&w and col. ; 38 x 29.5 cm or smaller
41 audiocassettes
2 videocassettes : VHS
2 floppy disks : 9 x 9 cm

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Eric Lansdown Trist (September 11, 1909 – June 4, 1993) was an influential British theorist in the fields of psychology and organizational development. Trist was born to a British Naval Officer and Scottish mother in Dover, England, where he spent his early life. After completing his primary school education at the Dover County School in 1928, Trist read English Literature and Psychology at the University of Cambridge. While there, he studied under psychologist Sir Frederick Bartlett and influential British literary critics, F.R. Leavis and I.A. Richards, and was heavily influenced by the ideas of Kurt Lewin, whom he later met on more than one occasion. Trist graduated from Cambridge in 1933, whereupon he became the Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Social Psychology and Anthropology at Yale University until 1935. From 1935-1940, Trist was a member of the department of Psychology at the University of St. Andrew's, Scotland. During the war, he worked as a psychologist and researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry at Mill Hill Emergency Hospital, University of London, and as a senior psychologist with the War Office Selection Board. This led to a post-war position advising the British Army's Civil Resettlement Scheme for British repatriated prisoners of war. For this work, Trist was designated an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

In 1946, Trist helped launch the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, a British charity dedicated to research in organizational and group behaviour. He acted as the Institute's Deputy-Chair until 1958 and as Chair from 1958 to 1966. From 1960 to 1961, Trist was a Ford Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In 1966, he became professor of organizational behaviour and social ecology at the University of California Los Angeles, a post he held until 1969. At this time, he joined the faculty at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, as professor of organizational behaviour and social ecology, a position from which he retired to Emeritus status in 1978. Following this, Trist became a professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, again teaching organizational development and social ecology. In 1979, Trist was named a Fellow of the International Academy of Management. In 1983, he was awarded an honourary LLD from York University. He retired from academia in 1985.

During his career, Trist authored and co-authored numerous works in the social sciences, including Organizational Choice: Capabilities of Groups at the Coal Face Under Changing Technologies (Tavistock, 1963) and Towards a Social Ecology (with Fred Emery, Plenum Press, 1973). He was co-editor (with Hugh Murray) of The Social Engagement of Social Science: A Tavistock Anthology (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990).

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records pertaining to the life and work of social scientist Eric Trist. Records include photographs and textual material pertaining to Trist's early life and education in Dover, England, student records from his time at Cambridge and Yale Universities, and material related to his career as a theorist and academic in the fields of psychology and organizational development. These latter records consist of publications, presentations and other writings authored or co-authored by Eric Trist, records pertaining to Trist's teaching career in both the United States and Canada, and material related to the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, of which Trist was a founding member.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Beulah Trist in 2015.


Fonds is arranged into 5 series.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Finding aid

Associated materials

Related materials


Fonds consists of the following accruals: 2016-004. Further accruals may be expected.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area


Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

08/07/2016 C. Falls (Creation)

Language of description

  • English


Accession area