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A Biography of S. Rains Wallace

by Kim Johnson
University of South Florida
April 2016

S. Rains Wallace was born in 1913. He completed his undergraduate work in English at the University of Virginia. He had a flair for writing that he exhibited through his contributions to the campus humor magazine and through his vividly written and often entertaining essays and exam answers. He became interested in psychology when he took an abnormal psychology class on a whim and his professor commented on the quality of his writing and the cogency of his discussions. He went on to earn an M.A in psychology from the University of Virginia. While he pursued his Ph.D., also from Virginia, he taught psychology at Ohio State University. He received his Ph.D. in 1937, upon which he began teaching at Tulane University.

In 1942, Dr. Wallace left Tulane to fight in World War II, going into the Army Air Force (AAF) as a First Lieutenant and leaving four years later as a Lieutenant Colonel. In the AAF, Dr. Wallace conducted research on the selection and training of air crews. He was then appointed Head of Research at the AAF Medical Center in Heidelberg, Germany.

Dr. Wallace briefly returned to Tulane University in 1946 as Chairman of the Psychology Department, before taking the position of Vice President of Research at the Life Insurance Management Association (LIAMA) in Hartford, Connecticut in 1947. In this capacity he studied selection, evaluation, and training of life insurance agents and managers, as well as investigating distribution costs, market analysis, and human resources.

In 1963-64, S. Rains Wallace served as the 19th President of Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (then known as the Division of Industrial Psychology). The first The Industrial Psychologist (TIP) magazine was published in 1964 under Wallace’s presidency. He stated that TIP “was a long-needed mechanism for the exchange of problems industrial psychologists face as professionals and scientists.”

In 1965 Wallace took a two-year leave of absence from LIAMA to act as Chief of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Section of the Department of Defense. Then, instead of returning to LIAMA, he became President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institutes for Research in 1967. After three years there, Wallace returned to the origin of his teaching career—The Ohio State University—as an instructor as well as the Chairman of the Psychology Department, where he remained for the duration of his career.

Wallace was married to Sara Hahn Wallace and had two children, Sarah Wallace Colucci Blackstone, Ph.D., and David Rains Wallace. Sarah Wallace Colucci Blackstone is an expert on augmentative and alternative communication (which is used to communicate with individuals who cannot use natural speech).  She has published multiple texts in her field and is a past present of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. David Rains Wallace is a well-known author of more than 16 books on natural history and conservation.

S. Rains Wallace died of cancer in Riverside Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, on August 29, 1973, at the age of 59. A SIOP award—the S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Research Award—was established in his name.


Weitz, J. (1974), S. RAINS WALLACE 1913–1973. Personnel Psychology, 27, 393–396. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1974.tb01162.x

Koppes, L.L. (1999, April). Ideals of Science: Persons Behind the SIOP Awards. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 36 (4), 75-86.

Dr. S. Rains Wallace of Ohio State Dead. (1973, August 30). The New York Times.