Fonds MSS 85 (A1992-022, A1995-023) - John Zubek fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

John Zubek fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code

CA UMASC MSS 85 (A1992-022, A1995-023)

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

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

5 m of textual records, 34 photographs.

Publisher's series area

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

John P. Zubek was born in Trnovec, Czechoslovakia on 10 March 1925. He immigrated to Canada at the age of five with his parents. After his early education in Grand Forks, British Columbia. Zubek completed his Psychology in 1946 graduating with first class honours from the University of British Columbia. In 1948 he received a Masters in Social Psychology from the University of Toronto. From 1948-1950 Zubek was an instructor in Psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore from where he received his Ph.D. in 1950 graduating Phi Betta Kappa.

Zubek then joined the Psychology Department at McGill University in the fall of 1950. During his three years at McGill as assistant professor, Zubek published eight articles on such widely divergent topics as the cerebral cortex and locomotor activity in rats to a genetic of Doukhobors' attitudes.

In 1953 Zubek joined the faculty of the University of Manitoba as a full professor and chairman of the Department of Psychology, a post he held for the next eight years. In 1954 he and P.A. Solberg coauthored the book Human Development (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1954) an advanced textbook treating the development and decline, throughout the lifespan, of the nervous system, glands, physical structure, senses, learning and thinking processes, emotions, beliefs, attitudes and personality. The following year he authored the Laboratory Manual in Introductory Psychology, a textbook consisting of 25 student-oriented experiments. He also published fifteen articles. In 1959 he added Directorship of the Sensory Deprivation Laboratory to his workload.

Dr. Zubek did not limit his activities to the University of Manitoba. He served two terms as a member of the Associate Committee on Experimental Psychology for the National Research Council of Canada from 1955 to 1961. He also served two terms, from 1958 to 1964 as a member of the Human Resources Scientific Advisory Committee for the Defense Research Board of Canada. Zubek was a member of Directors of the Canadian Psychological Association from 1956 to 1958.

In 1961 Dr. Zubek turned his attention solely to research. His new position as Research Professor reduced his teaching load to only one class. In the next thirteen years he wrote or edited four more books. One of them, Sensory Deprivation: Fifteen Years of Research (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969), consists of chapters written by eight of the leading investigators in the field. The book gives some 1,300 references to articles in journals and government technical reports, many of which were published in foreign languages. Zubek also published another 50 articles during this period, many of which were published in foreign journals.

Zubek and his associates received prestigious research grants to further their work. The National Research Council provided six years of funding (1968-1974) at $13,200 per annum for research on the effects of prolonged sensory deprivation. The same funding body provided a development grant of $110,000 in 1968 to establish a centre for research in sensory deprivation at the University of Manitoba. Furthermore, from 1959 to 1974 the Defence Research Board provided operating grants of $15,000-$21,000 for additional sensory deprivation research. Between 1964-1967 Zubek received $100,000 from the United States Public Health Service.

Dr. Zubek was made a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association in 1967. He was the recipient of the Clifford J. Robson Distinguished Psychologist in Manitoba Award bestowed by the Manitoba Psychological Society in 1973. The same year, Manitoba's research in sensory deprivation was listed among the 30 major achievements in Canadian science and technology.

Dr. Zubek died suddenly on 22 August 22 1974 at the age of 49. His academic legacy includes six books and over eighty articles. He helped to establish two awards for academic excellence. The John J. Zubek Award, named for his father, has been presented to younger staff members at the University of Manitoba for excellence in research and scholarship. The purpose of the award is to accord public recognition and provide encouragement to younger professors who show promise of gaining prominence in their fields. Zubek was also responsible for establishing the Clifford J. Robson Award in the memory of his friend Dr. Robson from the Department of Psychology at the University of Winnipeg. The award is for teaching excellence at the University of Winnipeg.

Custodial history

The sixteen boxes of material that contain the remnants of Dr. Zubek's academic career were discovered beneath the sensory deprivation chamber in the Psychology Department. Dr. Al Pressey of the Psychology Department was responsible for pointing out the value of the collection to the Department of Archives and Special Collections. Dr. Richard Bennett, University Archivist, along with Professor Pressey and Professor Barry Ferguson, transported the material to the University Archives. Funding for the processing of the collection was made available by the Faculty of Arts, the Department of Psychology, the University of Manitoba Libraries, and Dr. Pressey.

Scope and content

The Zubek Collection arrived at the Department of Archives and Special Collections in sixteen boxes. Roughly half of the material consisted of raw data results from various psychological tests Profesor Zubek administered to candidates in the sensory deprivation program. While significant to Dr. Zubek and his colleagues during their tests, this material held little archival significance. Of far more permanent value are his notes, rough copies and correspondence with many editors of learned journals in which he published. There is considerable correspondence between Zubek and the many funding bodies that he approached for capital. The collection is also rich in correspondence and related materials from other scholars, associations, and organizations like NATO that funded his research. Press clippings, both laudatory and highly critical of Zubek's research, have been maintained as have his books and correspondence commenting on papers that he presented at international conferences. While in short supply, there are photographs documenting sensory deprivation experiments.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


This collection is organized into 22 series.
Published journal articles & correspondence*
Papers presented at conferences 1965-1973
Notes to Zubek's speeches & interview [19-?]-1973
Correspondence regarding books 1964-1972
Articles & reviews of Zubek's work 1959-1974
Zubek's research correspondence 1959-1964
Research correspondence 1965-1974
Zubek's research notes 1948-1950
Zubek's exams 1952-1962
Correspondence with research funding bodies 1953-1973
Defence Research Board grants 1964-1973
Assessments of Defence Research Board grants 1963-1972
United States public health services grant 1964-1967
Correspondence with United States public health services 1963-1967
Correspondence regarding nominations & letters of reference 1955-1974
Zubek's refereed comments on Arnhoff research
Canadian psychological association 1973 -1974
Faculty of psychology correspondence 1961-1974
Clifford J. Robson award 1970-1974
John j. Zubek memorial award 1972-1974
Psychology department equipment purchases 1958-1970
Zubek's book: Human Development
Photograph collection (PC 88)

Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

The following files are restricted:
Box 6, File 9
Box 6, File 17
Box 7, File 5
Please consult a university archivist for further information.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

A finding aid can be downloaded by clicking on the “Download’ link under “Finding Aid” on the right hand side of the screen.

Generated finding aid

Associated materials

Related materials


Alternative identifier(s)



Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions



Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Finding aid created by Lewis St. George Stubbs (1993). Encoded by Julianna Trivers (August 2002). Revised by N. Courrier (November 2019).

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres