Additional Reading/Viewing

Links to articles & Books

  1.  Book by John B Calhoun  Environment and Population: Problems of Adaptation        Hardcover – July, 1983
  2. Obituary     September 29, 1995 NY Times
  3. NLM announcement  of the collection of Dad’s work posted in June 2012
  4. NLM announcement of   January 2008 paper by Edmund Ramsden & Jon Adams – see item #5 below
  5. Paper presented at NLM  Escaping the Laboratory: the rodent experiments of John B. Calhoun & their cultural influence – January 2008 by Edmund Ramsden & Jon Adams
  6.  Article/Cabinet Magazine  The Behavioral Sink by Will Wiles in 2011 issue
  7. Article/Victor Pest   What Humans Can Learn from Calhoun’s Rodent Utopia – January 11, 2017 article on a pest control website
  8. Article/Atlas Obscura   The Doomed Mouse Utopia That Inspired the ‘Rats of NIMH’ – September 14, 2016 internet article by Cara Giaimo

Links to Videos of Calhoun’s Work

  1. Film/Calhoun’s work  1983 Encyclopaedia Britannica Film – Film of Calhoun’s work and follow-up work done by Dr. James Hill.      Running time: 8:23 min
  2. Film/Norway Rat Experiment   Published by NLM February 9, 2018 (US Army and John B. Calhoun, 1957) – Film of Calhoun’s experiment with Norway Rats in Towson, Maryland.        Running time: 27:09 min
  3.  Film/Mouse City   Published by NLM November 9, 2017 – NIMH 1970-1972 edited version – This film is a trimmed version of a longer set of stitched-together reels that contain remarks by and interviews with National Institute of Mental Health scientist John B. Calhoun, as well as extensive footage of the thousands of mice Calhoun studied over many years. In Mouse City, Calhoun provided his research subjects food, water, bedding, protection from predators–all that they needed except adequate space. The results were destructive and dramatic. Based on these experiments, Calhoun drew conclusions about human behavior in overcrowded conditions, such as high-density public housing.                                                                   Running time: 38.32 min

Links to Videos about Calhoun’s Work

  1.  Escaping the Laboratory Published on Mar 7, 2016 – This video is a reading of an essay written by Edmund Ramsden and Jon Adams.  It includs images and video clips, some of which do not match what is being read.                     Running time: 15:58 min
  2.  Film/Critical Mass website  Film on the state of the world using Calhoun’s work to tie it together.  Available on Amazon: Critical Mass
  3. John B. Calhoun and the Rats of N.I.M.H. 2019 by The History Guy – Well done. Interesting and entertaining. Running time: 13:46 min

10 thoughts on “Additional Reading/Viewing

  1. Natanael Antonioli January 1, 2020 — 3:27 pm

    Hi! I’m Natanael, a Brazilian student and YouTuber doing some research about the work of John B. Calhoun, and came across your website.

    There’s plenty of information on the internet about universe 25, but a lot less (sometimes none) about the other universes, like universe 23, 19, 12, and others that have been listed on;cc=nlmfindaid;view=text;rgn=main;didno=calhoun586.

    So, is there any way to know more about that universes, beside going to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and taking a look at the archives?

    Do you know if this book ( has that information? There’s a library about 200 miles from here that has it, and I could afford a trip there if I was sure it had what I need.

    Many thanks in advance!


    1. Hello Natanael, I can say for certain that the book will not contain the information you are looking for. The book has chapters by a number of individuals with instructions on which ones to read and in what order depending on the information you are interested in. It is a book that utilizes internet search methods but before in internet existed.
      As to the other universes, it has been a long time since I read my father’s papers so I do not recall mention of the other universes. That being said, I have copies of all his papers and publications but have not scanned them all the ones that are up on the website do not mention other universes. The NLM Archive list does mention a CBS film. Checking the dates of the ones I put up links to the CBS one does not appear to be there.
      What is your deadline? I could check to see if any of the papers that have not been scanned refer to the other universes, but I do not have time until the weekend of the 11th.


  2. Isabel MacKay-Clackett November 26, 2021 — 11:41 pm

    Hello, I’m a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (in Ontario, Canada), doing research on Dr. John Calhoun. At the moment, I’m particularly interested in the organization of his compiled 1983 work: Environment and Population, Problems of Adaptation, and am researching this with the intention of writing a paper about it. It’s my understanding that the book is structured around Dr. Calhoun’s understanding of the function of the brain… and also employs pre-internet algorithms to direct readers to sections they may find especially interesting, based on their existing research interests.
    I think this is utterly fascinating, and any information you could provide, or direct me to, on the process of, or explicit impetus for this organizational strategy would be enormously appreciated. Your website has already provided me with some documents I was unable to find digitalized elsewhere, so I also thank you for making these accessible to historians of science. Best, Isabel.


    1. Isabel, please forgive the delay in responding. I’m not sure what he based the organization of the book on but I do recall he explained that it was set up in such a way that when you read one entry you would be directed to related ones. It was basically an internet search in book form, which was rather remarkable for the time. Have you looked at a copy of the book?


      1. Isabel MacKay-Clackett December 22, 2021 — 1:49 am

        Thank you so much for your reply! The delay is very understandable; we are living in very exceptional times.
        Yes, fortunately, I do have access to a copy of the book. It seems he’s pretty explicit about the organization in the introduction, prologue-epilogue, etc. of the book. I suppose I’m more invested in understanding his motivations for organizing it in such a way, and how this related to his ideas for facilitating inter-disciplinary communication between scientists, and creating an “early warning system” for emergent issues related to population and the environment.
        Do you know if there’s any special significance to the icosahedron? (the stick-and-ball 3D image at the top of the site, which also appears as a watermark on all of the uploaded documents). It seems to be an organizing principle of the book, in as much as the chapters are arranged such that they maximally related to the other chapters directly before and after. Perhaps I’ve just answered my own question…


      2. 1974 Jan: Environmental Design Research and Monitoring from an Evolutionary Perspective
        He uses the diagram in this paper.
        My recollection, from conversations 30 years ago, is that he considered 12 an important number in human interaction. I believe he considered it the optimum number of groups to communicate well, possibly the optimum number of individuals in a group. It has been a long time! The diagram is probably used in other papers but I don’t recall which and I definitely have not gotten to scanning them yet. I checked my digital file.


      3. Isabel MacKay-Clackett December 29, 2021 — 11:21 pm

        Yes, I have found a few references with respect to the importance of 12, at least as an optimal social group size, for humans and rats. I’m curious to know, was your father religious? I’ve seen the lovely picture of him with Pope Paul VI, but certainly one can have esteem for religious world leaders without being personally religious. I’ve also encountered a reference to Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his speech on The Universal City of Ideas. I know it’s a somewhat personal question.


      4. He was religious in that he believed in God and attended church. In the photo of him with the Pope notice the placement of his hands. According to him it had significance although I cannot find any reference to the Pope hold someone’s hand in both of his.


  3. I have been following the work of Calhoun for many years, met him at Georgetown Universit Family Center, working for Dr. Murray Bowen. My blog


    1. Thank you for posting this! I recall Jack Calhoun being very much involved with the Family Center and both he and his wife were close friends with some of the folks there.


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