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Peter G. Ossorio papers

Identifier: COU:3855

Scope and Content

Peter G. Ossorio rejected traditional theorizing, methodology, and “philosophy of science”, and offered new conceptualizations, methodologies, techniques, and practices for behavioral science. The Ossorio Collection contains all of the basic writings associated with this new approach, known as Descriptive Psychology. As the founder of Descriptive Psychology, Ossorio created monographs for limited circulation among colleagues and students as he was developing the system. A complete set of these monographs, known as LRI (Linguistic Research Institute) Reports, is in the Collection, as well as handwritten drafts and notes (“debris”) for some of the reports. In the business world, Dr. Ossorio developed artificial intelligence systems. Related to this work are reports written during the Cold War years for the Rome Air Development Center (RADC), which focus on the computer simulation of the judgment of an intelligence agent, as well as later work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on robotic systems for space exploration. There is also material related to his collaboration with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, on the classification of galaxies and on the Astrophysics Data System (ADS). Because there was a flood in Peter’s home in the early 1980s, early manuscripts are scarce in Peter’s own files. To fill in that gap, three of the boxes in the Collection are from Thomas O. Mitchell, Ph.D., who worked with Peter in the late 1960s. In addition, there are reviews written by Ossorio as consulting editor of the Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior; correspondence related to the Society for Descriptive Psychology, an organization formed in 1979 to promote Descriptive Psychology; requests for reprints of his work from around the world; maps which he saved from his travels; seven volumes of his Collected Works; and other items.


  • Creation: 1954 - 2014

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biographical Note

Dr. Peter Garcia Ossorio was born in Los Angeles on May 4, 1926, the youngest of six children. Little is known of his childhood as his son, Aladdin, said his father rarely, rarely reminisced and focused on the future. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles Ossorio served in the U.S. Army Medical Services, 1952-1954, and the U.S. Veterans Administration 1957-1961. Upon returning to UCLA he was awarded a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA in 1961. The same year Ossorio moved to Colorado where he began a career teaching psychology that ultimately spanned 30 years. During that time he oversaw the completion of some 50 dissertations. In addition to teaching, Ossorio did cutting edge research on topics from Descriptive Psychology, robotics, and astrophysics. Papers, articles, and reports were published through his various businesses, including the Linguistic Research Institute, Ellery Systems, Global Commerce Systems and NASA. His publications were extensive, and he is widely recognized for creating Descriptive Psychology, a unique and systematic approach to understanding persons and their behavior. Descriptive Psychology has been used by professionals around the world to solve problems in the fields of artificial intelligence, astronomy, business, computer science, psychology, spirituality, and others.


15.1 linear feet (36 Records Boxes and 1 Oversized Box )

Language of Materials



Papers, publications, and non-print materials documenting the academic and research activities of Peter G. Ossorio.


This collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: Personal and Professional Papers, 1954-2007 Series 2: Descriptive Psychology, 1965-2014 Series 3: Linguistics Research Institute, 1965-1997 Series 4: Rome Air Development Center, 1982-1990 Series 5: Ellery Systems, Inc., 1980-2001 Series 6: Global Commerce Systems, Inc., 1994-2001 Series 7: Information Access Systems, Inc. 1988-1998 Series 8: Management Support Technology, Inc., 1982-1993 Series 9: NASA, 1983-1995 Series 10: Publications, Reviews and Other Writings, 1966-2006 Series 11: Published Books and Manuscripts, 1965-2010 Series 12: Academic and Advising Papers, 1954-1999 Series 13: Travel, Maps and Photographs, 1982-1999 Series 14: Electronic Material, 1988-2002 Series 15: Audiovisual Material, 1975-2013

Peter G. Ossorio Papers
Processing began by Marilyn Burns, September 2017. Processing completed by Katelyn Morken, April-June 2017. Machine Readable Finding Aid in EAD by Katelyn Morken, June 2018.
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States