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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 79
BENTON J. UNDERWOOD
February 28, 1915–November 29, 1994
BY GEOFFREY KEPPEL
BENTON J.UNDERWOOD was one of the pre-eminent leaders in the post-World War II development of research on the acquisition and retention of verbal materials, frequently referred to at the time as the study of verbal learning and memory. Underwood is recognized for his extensive contributions to the experimental and theoretical analysis of this field and for a career as an innovator and a pacesetter in a rapidly growing and changing domain of research. Between 1941 and 1982, he amassed nearly 200 publications, including 10 books and 5 research monographs. Approximately 85 percent of his articles and monographs consisted of reports of experiments. His most ambitious research effort was his study of massed and distributed practice, which spanned over 17 years and included 26 empirical reports and theoretical articles.
Underwood was born on February 28, 1915, in Center Point, Iowa. He received his primary and secondary education in Albion, a small town serving the farming community in central Iowa, where his father owned and operated the local lumberyard. His mother was particularly supportive of her children’s education, providing each with the opportunity to take special music lessons and expressing great ad-