Godfrey H Thomson: The man who tested Scotland's IQ

About the Exhibition

Dates: 29th July 2016 - 20th October 2016
Where: Exhibition Gallery, Main Library, George Square
Curated by: Professor Ian Deary


Professor Sir Godfrey Hilton Thomson (1881–1955) was a giant in educational research. In 1932, and again in 1947, he led ground-breaking studies to test the intelligence of every 11-year-old in Scotland.

In his day, he was internationally recognised as an educator, an intelligence theorist, a statistician, and the largest-scale producer of IQ tests in Europe.

Thomson simultaneously held the Chair of Education at the University of Edinburgh and the post of Director of Studies at the Edinburgh Provincial Training Centre at Moray House from 1925 until 1951.

Throughout his career he worked to ensure that disadvantaged children had the opportunity for a good education. His academic and professional concerns, such as educational testing and social mobility, remain relevant today.

Despite Thomson’s achievements during his lifetime, after his death he began to fade from public and academic memory. In 2008, a chance phone call facilitated the rescue of his personal and professional papers from his family home, just prior to its demolition.

Today, the Godfrey Thomson Archive provides key insights into the life and work of this remarkable man. This exhibition tells his story.

Godfrey Thomson's house at 5 Ravelston Dykes.